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2023 Hydrogen Conference speakers:

Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, Vice President for Research and Partnerships, University of Oklahoma

Tomás Díaz de la Rubia is a science and technology leader, strategist and administrator with extensive experience in government, academia and the private sector. Tomas is the Vice President for Research and Partnerships at the University of Oklahoma. In this capacity, he leads OU’s efforts to enhance the scale and scope of the university’s research enterprise, and to develop a new strategic framework for research to propel the university forward, particularly in the areas of national security, energy and sustainability, and the life sciences.

Prior to this assignment, Tomas was the Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Purdue University. In that capacity, he helped the university pursue major new research initiatives and contracts, and led Discovery Park, a transdisciplinary complex of centers, institutes and facilities focused on turning new ideas and discoveries into disruptive innovations with global impact on society. During Tomas’ tenure, Discovery Park focused strategically on the development of real world solutions to major global challenges in health and the life sciences; sustainability and the nexus of energy, food, water, climate and the environment; and national security and defense. Tomas was also responsible for the success of the Burton Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and the Purdue Foundry, a hub to nurture and launch new start-up companies based on faculty and student intellectual property (IP) into the market. Over 100 new companies have been created over the last four years.

Prior to Purdue, Tomas worked for Deloitte Consulting, LLP where he was the innovation leader and a Director in the energy and resources industry practice, and prior to joining Deloitte, Tomas was the Deputy Director for Science and Technology (DDST) at the U.S. Department of Energy Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California, where he served as the Laboratory’s Chief Research Officer (CRO) and oversaw a $250M program of basic and applied research in support of the Laboratory’s missions in science and technology, nuclear security, defense, counterterrorism, energy and technology commercialization.

In addition to these leadership roles, Tomas is a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Intelligence Community Studies Board, which was tasked in 2016 by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and discusses science and technology issues of importance to the nation's intelligence community. He is a board member of the National Defense Industry Association and of CRDF Global. Among his hobbies, he is a member of the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, a worldwide group dedicated to promoting the virtues of the wines and foods of Burgundy


John Antonio, Dean of the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, U of Oklahoma

Title: A Framework for a University-Wide Academic Program in Sustainable Energy Systems

John Antonio has vast experience in research and leadership, both in academia and industry. He currently serves as Interim Dean for the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, where he also holds the Lester A. Day Family Chair. John has proven experience in forging partnerships with colleges, departments, and other entities both on and off campus to create opportunities to empower faculty and students to achieve their ambitions and have impact. In his current role he is particularly focused on forming collaborations aimed at transdisciplinary and convergence research to tackle societies’ most challenging problems in the realm of Earth and energy systems. Dean Antonio received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1989. His research expertise is primarily focused on the development and application of techniques for system-level modeling, control, and optimization. He has applied these methodologies to a number of application domains including optimal control of large-scale dynamic power grids, route optimization in data networks, power optimization for high-performance computing systems, and optimizing the performance and stability of massively parallel commercial computing platforms. He holds two US patents and has published over one hundred articles, book chapters, and reports, including 85 peer-reviewed articles. Dean Antonio is a member of the European Academy of Sciences, and a member of various professional and honorific societies.

Jeff Bielicki, Associate Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering, The Ohio State University

Dr. Bielicki  runs the Energy Sustainability Research Laboratory where he and his students research issues in which energy and environmental systems and policy interact, specifically on topics related to carbon management, renewable energy, and the energy-water nexus.  He is also a Research Lead for Sustainable Energy at the university-wide Sustainability Institute. Dr. Bielicki collaborates with researchers in academia and U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories in numerous disciplines. Prior to returning to graduate school, Dr. Bielicki was a mechanical engineer at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, where he primarily worked on devices and infrastructure that produce antiprotons. A blackbelt in taekwondo, in his free time Dr. Bielicki likes to run, practice yoga and improvisational comedy, teach himself how to play acoustic guitar, and be the best dad he can be.


Wesley Burnett, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Title: The greenhouse gas footprint and biogas production of livestock waste management. Is green hydrogen the future of manure management?

Dr. Burnett is a research economist within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS). His research agenda includes topics related to energy economics, agri-environmental and natural resource economics. Prior to joining the ERS, he served as an economics professor for ten years at West Virginia University and the College of Charleston. Dr. Burnett is a member of the American Economic Association, the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, and the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.


Harsha Chelliah, Program Director, Combustion and Fire Systems, National Science Foundation

Title: Hydrogen 3.0 – NSF initiatives

Professor Chelliah is a Program Director at NSF, and a faculty member at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia. He is an active member of the Combustion Institute, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He is a Fellow of ASME, an Associate Fellow of AIAA and a member of the AIAA Technical Committee on Propellants and Combustion. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Combustion Theory and Modelling. His research interest are in Fluid Mechanics, Chemical kinetics and model reduction, Combustion, Hypersonic propulsion, Soot nucleation, growth, and oxidation, and Chemical vapor infiltration of SiC.


James Collard,  Director of Planning and Economic Development for Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Title: From here to there: Industrializing ideas

Dr. Collard is currently the Director of Planning and Economic Development for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN), a Native American Tribal Nation.  In this capacity he evaluates and facilitates business development proposals and tribal franchise opportunities. He also compiled and manages the CPN Economic Development Strategy and the Comprehensive Water Plan. He is currently developing Iron Horse, a rail-anchored industrial park that serves as a destination for Foreign Direct Investment and Import/Export Center for U.S. domestic companies and is the only currently active Foreign Trade Zone on Native American land. He is a Fellow and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the International Economic Development Council. In addition he serves on the Board of Directors for the International Inter-tribal Trade & Investment Organization, and the Forum for International Trade Training.  Dr. Collard recently was awarded the prestigious Certified International Trade Professional designation.  Dr. Collard is a current member and Past Chair of the OK Governor’s International Team and is a member of the Oklahoma District Export Council. He has traveled extensively internationally on business and as a participant on trade missions and diplomatic delegations. He was recently asked to provide testimony before the U.S. Trade Representative during the USTR Consultation Hearings.  He is the co-founder and chair of the Tribal-Municipal Dialogue, a group dedicated to increasing cooperation between tribal & local governments.  He is also a Professor of Practice within the University of Oklahoma Regional and City Planning Program.  Prior experience includes seven years as a police patrol officer; seventeen years as a city manager, and five years as an executive in the environmental services industry.  


Shane Connelly, George Lynn Cross Professor of Psychology, Director, Institute for Community and Society Transformation, University of Oklahoma

Title: Engaging Communities to Promote Energy Justice

Shane Connelly, Ph.D. is a Professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, a George Lynn Cross Research Professor, and Director of the Institute for Community and Society Transformation (ICAST) and at the University of Oklahoma. She earned her Ph.D. in I/O Psychology from George Mason University. Dr. Connelly has conducted basic and applied psychological research for over 25 years. She has established a strong record of scholarly achievements, federal research grants, and mentorship of doctoral candidates. Dr. Connelly has made significant contributions to understanding the development and acquisition of leadership skills necessary for successful leadership. She has worked with U.S. federal government agencies, NSF, and DHS on projects aimed at understanding and countering extremist online communication associated with foreign and domestic extremist groups in online settings. Her research has also emphasized the development of ethical professionals in leadership and research domains. Dr. Connelly has published over 100 articles in top peer-reviewed outlets and has received over $11 million dollars in external funding as PI or Co-PI.


Steven Crossley, Sam A Wilson Professor of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, OU

Title: Hydrogen Production with catalytic pyrolysis

Steven Crossley received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 2009. From 2009-2011, he conducted research at ConocoPhillips, now Phillips 66, in the areas of fluid catalytic cracking and hydrocracking. In August 2011, Dr. Crossley joined the University of Oklahoma. His research involves evaluation of reaction mechanisms over zeolites and reducible oxides for biomass conversion, polymer upcycling, and CO2-free hydrogen generation. He is currently leading several large grants in the areas of waste polymer conversion and DOE and NSF funded grants focused on CO2-free hydrogenxf production via catalytic pyrolysis. Dr. Crossley is the recipient the NSF CAREER award and holds the Teigen Presidential Professorship and Sam A. Wilson professorship. He served as the CATL division Programming Chair for the 2019 and 2020 ACS fall national meetings and has served in multiple elected roles in the division since. He serves as Associate Director of the Institute for Resilient Environmental and Energy systems at OU. He also served as president for the Great Plains Catalysis Society in 2022. Dr. Crossley works to facilitate the success of Native American students in STEM fields and serves as faculty advisor for the University of Oklahoma’s award-winning American Indian Science and Engineering (AISES) chapter.


Hanping Ding, Assist. Professor, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, OU


Dr Ding worked as a Materials Scientist/Engineer  at the Idaho National Laboratory fro three years before joining OU. His research interests are in: Hydrogen Production and related technologies (materials R&D, stack/modular demonstration); Fuel Cells; Batteries; Electrocatalysis/membrane reactor/gas separation/high-temperature ceramics; Electrochemical Processing (natural gas direct conversion, CO2 electrochemical reduction, chemical synthesis); Integrated Energy System; Additive Manufacturing; Solid state ionics and Computational Modeling.


Geoffrey Ellis, Energy Resource Program, US Geological Survey

Title: Geologic hydrogen - An overlooked potential clean primary energy resource

Dr. Geoffrey Ellis is a research geologist and the project chief of the Potential for Geologic Hydrogen Gas Resources project within the Energy Resources Program (ERP) of the U.S. Geological Survey. He is also an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines and the chair of the Hydrogen Resources and Storage Committee within the Energy Minerals Division of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. He holds an A.B. in Geological Sciences from Cornell University, an M.Sc. in Geochemistry from the Colorado School of Mines, and a Ph.D. in Marine Geology and Geophysics from the University of Miami. Prior to joining the ERP, he worked as a staff scientist in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, as a research chemist in the Water Resources Division of the USGS, and as a consultant in environmental and resource exploration geochemistry. His research interests include organic-inorganic interactions in geologic settings, gas isotope geochemistry, and the potential for natural hydrogen resources.


Tim Filley, Director of Institute for Resilient Environmental and Energy Systems, OU

Title: HALO initiative at OU


Kasun Gunasooriya, Assistant Professor, Chemical Biological and Materials Engineering, OU       

Dr. G. T. Kasun Kalhara Gunasooriya is an assistant professor of Chemical, Biological, and Materials Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. Prior to OU, he was a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Jens K. Nørskov at the Catalysis Theory Center at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). His research at DTU focused on developing novel catalytic materials for water electrolyzers and fuel cells in close experimental collaboration with Prof. Thomas Jaramillo at Stanford University and Prof. Ib Chorkendorff at DTU. He earned his B.Eng. and M.Eng in Chemical Engineering from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and carried out his Ph.D. research with Prof. Mark Saeys and Prof. Guy Marin at the Laboratory for Chemical Technology (LCT) at the Ghent University, where he investigated the catalyst structure and reaction mechanism of the cobalt catalyzed Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis. By bridging his expertise in computational catalysis, kinetic modeling, and data-science approaches, his long-term goal is to contribute toward understanding the structure-property relationships of advanced catalytic materials to accelerate materials discovery and establish catalyst design principles for sustainable energy applications. Some of his recent achievements include the 1st prize in the European Federation of Catalysis Societies (EFCATS) Young Generation Catalysis Challenge and an invitation to give a TEDx talk entitled ‘hacking the carbon cycle using computers’.


Ipsita Gupta, Associate Professor, Petroleum Engineering, Louisiana State University

Title: Hydrogen in Louisiana – Opportunities and Challenges

Ipsita Gupta is Associate Professor at the Craft and Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering at Louisiana State University. She has a PhD in basin-scale hydrogeology (Geological Sciences) from the University of South Carolina. Her industry experience spans working as a Research Scientist in the R&D unit of the then Energy Technology Company (ETC, Chevron) and thereafter Asset Development Geologist and Reservoir Engineering at the Chevron North America Exploration and Production (CNAEP) Company for the Gulf of Mexico business unit at Chevron. Her research expertise is in reactive transport modeling in geologic media with applications to energy and environment sectors, examples wellbore integrity, subsurface carbon and hydrogen storage. At LSU, she teaches courses on subsurface storage, reservoir engineering and reactive transport modeling.

Maša Prodanović (she/her/hers), Frank W. Jessen Professor, Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

Title: Hydrogen mobility in rock pores and implications for hydrogen storage

Maša Prodanović is a Frank W. Jessen Professor in Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering (PGE), The University of Texas at Austin. She is an applied mathematician-turned-engineer and has expertise in direct simulation of flow and particulate transport in porous and fractured media, porous media characterization especially based on 2D and 3D images of rock microstructure, unconventional resources and data curation. She is a recipient of multiple awards such as InterPore Medal for Porous Media Research in 2022, SPE Distinguished Member Award in 2021, EAGE Alfred Wegener Award in 2021, SPE Formation Evaluation regional award for development of Digital Rocks Portal in 2019, Texas 10 (top faculty) and Stony Brook 40 Under Forty awards in 2017, SPE Faculty Innovative Teaching Award in 2014 and Interpore Procter & Gamble Research Award for Porous Media Research in 2014. She was elected Interpore Society Council member, SIAM Geosciences Program Director 2021-22 and SIAM Geosciences Chair 2023-24.


David Raney, Executive Director, Texas Hydrogen Alliance

Mr. Raney has also been the General Manager – Portfolio and Compliance Strategy in the Corporate Strategy and Planning Division for Toyota Motor North America, Inc., where he worked on developing the first hydrogen-run motor vehicles for Toyota.


Terri Reed, Professor and George Kaiser Family Foundation Chair, Director of OU Polytechnic at Tulsa

Dr. Teri Reed, is the inaugural director of the OU Polytechnic Institute in Tulsa and she holds the George Kaiser Family Foundation Chair. Under her leadership, the OU Polytechnic Institute will create pathways to connect students of all ages and skill levels with high-demand, advanced and applied technology-based education. She received her B.S. in petroleum engineering from the University of Oklahoma. After earning an MBA, she received her PhD in industrial engineering from Arizona State University. She is a Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), former President of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN), and a Distinguished Member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Her research interests include statistics education, concept inventory development, assessment and evaluation of learning/programs, recruitment/retention, and diversity/equity/inclusion. Reed helped establish the scholarly foundation for engineering education as an academic discipline through co-authorship of the landmark 2006 JEE special reports “The National Engineering Education Research Colloquies” and “The Research Agenda for the New Discipline of Engineering Education”.

Professor Reed has received a number of professional honors including the 2015 ASEE William Elgin Wickenden Award for research paper of the year, the 2013 ASEE Sharon Keillor Award for Women in Engineering Education, the 2012 Purdue University’s One Brick Higher Award. And was selected as one of the inaugural recipients of the OU Regents’ Alumni Award.

Shadi Salahshoor, Ph.D. (she/her), Sr. Technical Leader, Hydrogen Technology Center, GTI Energy

Title: Hydrogen Economy and Long-Term Storage Needs

Dr. Shadi salahshoor is a Senior Technical Leader at GTI Energy where she provides technical leadership and project management on a variety of research projects focused on low-carbon energy solutions. Prior to GTI, she worked as a petroleum reservoir engineer with independent operating and consulting companies in the U.S. and overseas.

Shadi holds a Ph.D. in Petroleum Engineering minoring in Data Science & Analytics from the University of Oklahoma. She is an advocate of leveraging big data analytics to discover insights and identify areas where the energy sector can facilitate optimized planning, exploration, delineation, and field development.

Raman Singh,  Associate Dean of Engineering at OSU-Tulsa, Materials Science and Engineering, Oklahoma State University


Katrín Steinþórsdóttir, University of British Columbia, Carbfix

Title: Carbfix - turning CO2 into rock. 

Katrin Steinthorsdottir (she/her) is a geologist at Carbfix and doing her PhD on carbon mineralization at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She acquired her MSc also at UBC and before moving to Canada, Katrin completed her BSc from the University of Iceland and the University of Bern, Switzerland.


Justin Winikoff, Research Agricultural Economist, Rural Economy Branch, US Department of Agriculture

Title: Renewable Energy on American Indian Land

Justin Winikoff is a Research Agricultural Economist in the Rural Economy Brand at the USDA’s Economic Research Service. His research focuses on the intersection of energy production, land use, and rural economic development.  He received his PhD in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Colin Wolden,  Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines,

The ongoing saga of Haber & Bosch: Scientists who saved the world, accelerated global warming, and may contribute to climate restoration. 

Colin Wolden is a Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Dr. Wolden has been at Mines for 25 years and his research interests focus on nanostructured materials and advanced processes for sustainable energy. Current projects include distributed production of blue and green hydrogen, tritium management for future fusion plants, solid state batteries, and thin film solar cells. He has mentored 10 postdocs, 47 graduate students, and >70 undergraduates. Selected honors include the NSF Career award, the ETS Walton Fellowship from Science Foundation Ireland, and he is a Fellow of the American Vacuum Society (AVS). He is also founder of Blaze Energy Technologies, a startup to commercialize technologies developed in his lab. 


Haibo Zhai, Roy & Caryl Cline Distinguished Chair in Engineering, U of Wyoming

Title: An Outlook for Technological Evolution of Large-Scale Blue Hydrogen Production. 

Dr. Haibo Zhai is the Cline Distinguished Chair in Engineering and an Associate Professor in Environmental Engineering at the University of Wyoming. He conducts systems research that addresses technical, economic and policy issues related to energy and the environment. Current interests of research mainly include low-carbon energy systems, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen production, negative emissions technologies, low-grade heat & water recovery and reuse, and the energy-water nexus. 

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