On-Site Research Contacts

Onsite Research Key Personnel

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David E. Alman, Ph.D.

Acting Executive Director of the Research and Innovation Center (R&IC)

David E. Alman, is the Acting Executive Director of the Research and Innovation Center (R&IC) at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) of the Department of Energy (DOE). In this capacity, he is responsible for all aspects of the ~$120M/year intramural research effort at the NETL that employs approximately 500 multidisciplinary federal and contract research staff, at research locations in Pittsburgh, PA, Morgantown, WV, and Albany, OR. In this role, he leads R&IC in developing and implementing a high-caliber research portfolio that effectively addresses DOE and other customer goals through effective exercise of NETL’s core competencies in computer science and engineering, materials engineering and manufacturing, energy conversion engineering, geological and environmental systems, and systems engineering and analysis.

Dr. Alman has a distinguished research career in his nearly 25 years of federal service with the Albany Research Center and NETL, primarily focusing on development of materials for severe service environments.  Over the last ten years he has served in various research management positions within NETL’s intramural research organization.  In 2015, he assumed the duties as the Associate Director for Materials Engineering and Manufacturing within the R&IC. Dr. Alman holds a B.S. from Drexel University and Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, both in materials engineering.  He is co-inventor of nine US patents, published over 50 peer-reviewed scholarly articles, and is a recipient of two R&D 100 Awards for technology commercialization. In 2009, Dr. Alman’s technical contributions were recognized by ASM-International, as he was awarded a society fellowship for the development of novel materials and surface structures for power generation and high temperature applications.

Randall Gemmen, Ph.D.

Associate Deputy Director, Research and Development

Dr. Gemmen is the Associate Deputy Director of Research and Development, in the Research & Innovation Center at the National Energy Technology Laboratory. The office is supported by the Directors of nine ORD research divisions, which are: Computational Science and Engineering Division, Energy Processes Division, Engineered Natural Systems Division, Functional Materials Division, Materials Characterization Division, Molecular Sciences Division, Predictive Geosciences Division, Structural Materials Development Division, and Thermal Sciences Division. Dr. Gemmen assists the Director in the delivery of the Research & Innovation Center’s research product and along with his staff, and in formulating a strategic plan for the Office. He is also responsible for the oversight of the execution of environmental, safety, and health (ES&H) activities within ORD, and, along with the Associate Director for Outreach and Administration, oversees the development of ORD procedures. Dr. Randall Gemmen holds a Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the Department of Aerospace at the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Michigan. Dr. Gemmen has performed and supported the management of research on several key DOE programs, including: combustion for gas turbine power systems, fuel cells, hybrid (fuel cell + gas turbine) systems technology, gasification, and sensors.

Jimmy Thornton

Associate Deputy Director, Outreach and Administration

Mr. Thornton is the Associate Deputy Director of Administration, in the Research & Innovation Center at the National Energy Technology Laboratory. In this capacity, Jimmy manages all aspects of administration for onsite research, including the NETL Regional University Alliance, site support contract management, and lab safety and engineering. He holds a MS in Electrical Engineering from West Virginia University, and has over 20 years of experience working in energy-related research and development (R&D). His sensors and control background has given him the opportunity to make contributions in many energy related fields at all levels of R&D (i.e. from concept development, to commercial-scale testing). He holds seven sensors related patents, and several technical publications related to his research. Jimmy is also a retired combat veteran of the US Army with over 27 years of combined active and reserve service.

George (“Geo”) A. Richards

Focus Area Lead, Energy System Dynamics

Dr. Richards has more than 20 years of experience in energy systems research, including all types of energy conversion devices, with a particular interest in gas turbines and combustion. Dr. Richards currently leads the Energy Systems Dynamics Focus Area, providing technical direction for research groups investigating turbine combustion, carbon dioxide capture, high-temperature fuel cells, alternative fuels, and gasification technology. In addition to conducting his own research, Dr. Richards’s responsibilities include developing and executing cooperative research agreements with private industry and academia, and evaluating proposed concepts related to energy conversion. He also serves as a research advisor for both graduate and post-graduate investigators visiting from academic institutions. Dr. Richards received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1987, and his M.S. and B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from Clarkson University, 1983 and 1984 respectively.

Madhava Syamlal

Focus Area Lead, Computational and Basic Sciences

Dr. Madhava Syamlal leads the Computational and Basic Sciences Focus Area at NETL. He has over 20 years of experience in developing and applying computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models, particularly in multiphase flow and fluidization. Dr. Syamlal’s research work has included the formulation of constitutive equations and numerical methods, development of software, validation of CFD models, and application of the models to industrial problems. He led the development of the multiphase flow code MFIX and the integration of CFD and process simulation models. Dr. Syamlal holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology.