Vasilis Fthenakis Named Senior Scientist Emeritus

Vasilis Fthenakis enlarge

Vasilis Fthenakis

For his contributions during a 36-year career at Brookhaven Lab, Vasilis Fthenakis of the Sustainable Energy Technologies Department was granted senior scientist emeritus status, effective at the time of his January 2017 retirement.

Fthenakis joined Brookhaven in 1980 as a research engineer II in the former Energy and Environment Department. In the next two decades, he received several promotions in this department and the then-Applied Energy Department. In 2003, he was promoted to chemical engineer and head of the National Photovoltaic Environmental, Health and Safety Center—a position he held for 10 years. He transferred to the former Nuclear Energy Department in 2006, at which time he started a dual appointment with Columbia University, where he founded the Center for Life Cycle Analysis (CLCA). He was promoted to senior chemical engineer in 2007 and was granted tenure in 2010 after transferring to the Sustainable Energy Technologies Department, where he remained until retirement.

Fthenakis is a worldwide leader in the analysis of life-cycle issues in renewable energy applications, with seminal contributions in photovoltaics and the environment. He has led the U.S. and European photovoltaic industries onto a pathway of sustainable development, identifying potential commercialization barriers and conducting research that resolved concerns associated with the market's rapid growth. He created and led multi-country collaborations supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the International Energy Agency. Currently, he continues to direct CLCA, where he has expanded his research to solar-enabled water desalination, renewable energy grid integration, and solar forecasting using deep-learning networks.

In his congratulatory remarks, Lab Director Doon Gibbs noted, "As the photovoltaic environment grew enormously, you were early in calling for research to ensure sustainability of this market with regard to environmental effects, particularly the effects of cadmium and lead used in the materials and their solders. As a leader in life-cycle analysis for photovoltaics, you promoted a photovoltaics recycling strategy to ensure that environmental effects of photovoltaic use are sustainable."

Said Fthenakis, "In addition to providing the environment to excel in the field of my programmatic responsibilities, Brookhaven inspired me to extend my reach worldwide. I am especially proud of the Solar Grand Plan for the United States—a collaborative study that was published in 2008 as a Scientific American cover article and translated into 14 languages. This study continues to have a great impact."

Meet 12 other scientists who have received emeritus status

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