The University Energy Partnership was founded jointly in 2010 by five major research universities: Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia University. Building on their regional university alliance with the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory, these five research university partners are working together to address the nation’s energy transition challenge by:
- Facilitating collaborative work;
- Promoting the growth of the region’s research portfolio;
- Providing education and workforce development pathways into the broader energy sector;
- Commercializing technological innovations;
- Contributing to the growth of a strong, export-focused regional energy industry sector and its local supply chain; and
- Expanding economic opportunity throughout the sector.
As president of the partnership, Dr. Christina Gabriel works to strengthen the contributions that these research universities make together in addressing the nation’s energy transition challenge: defining, shaping and communicating a shared research vision; carrying out collaborative research and education programs; developing productive working relationships with industry; promoting the growth of the broader regional energy innovation economy through technology commercialization, education and workforce development at all levels; and expanding economic opportunity throughout the energy cluster and its local and global supply chain.
Dr. Gabriel served from 2010-2012 to advise and guide a federal interagency strategic planning process led by the White House Domestic Policy Council, as principal investigator for two related grants funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. This work was in support of the move and headquarters consolidation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to its new campus on the former St. Elizabeths hospital site, which is located in the southeast region of the District of Columbia. This will be the largest federal development since the construction of the Pentagon and the campus is located adjacent to several of the nation’s most economically distressed communities. The goal of this collaborative effort is to promote economic growth and broaden opportunity within the National Capital Region’s innovation clusters, engaging federal and District agencies in a community-driven process specifically to support urban economic revitalization. Work was carried out in partnership with the DC Office of Planning and a Virginia Tech research team as well as government offices, universities, nonprofits and other organizations in DC, Maryland and Virginia.
Between 2006 and 2010 Dr. Gabriel led Innovation Economy grant making at The Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh, PA. Philanthropist Teresa Heinz Kerry created this program to capitalize on the research and technology strengths of southwestern Pennsylvania’s universities, medical centers, corporate and government laboratories to promote economic growth and broaden economic opportunity.
From 1998 to 2006, Dr. Gabriel worked at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, eventually becoming vice provost and chief technology officer. Among her other responsibilities as a member of the university’s core management team, she led a campus-wide process that restructured the university’s technology transfer function to enable a higher volume of transactions and closer collaboration with the business community. She also represented all three of the region’s major research universities on the leadership team of the corporate consortium that competed successfully in 2004 to manage research and development services for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.
Dr. Gabriel served at the National Science Foundation between 1991 and 1997, first to direct Engineering Research Centers and other industry-university collaborative centers programs and later as deputy and chief operating officer of the agency’s $350 million engineering directorate. She spent the 1994 legislative cycle on detail as one of three majority professional staff members for the VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate. In 1990 Dr. Gabriel was visiting associate professor, NTT Telecommunications Endowed Chair, University of Tokyo.
Dr. Gabriel began her professional career as principal investigator conducting experimental research at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, NJ, focusing on lasers, optical fibers and thin-film waveguide devices for telecommunications, switching and computing applications. She is a member of the MIT Corporation Visiting Committee on Sponsored Research and the Catalyst Connection board of directors. She also serves on the steering committee for the National Research Council review of federal small business innovation research (SBIR and STTR) programs. Dr. Gabriel received masters and doctoral degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor of science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. She was a National Merit Scholar and an AT&T Bell Laboratories GRPW Fellow. In 2010 Dr. Gabriel was appointed by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke to serve as a member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Wayne Honath joined the University Energy Partnership February 2012 and is the Director of Program Development and Industry Relations for Grid Technologies.
Mr. Honath has extensive experience in the fields of energy and electric distribution. Before joining the University Energy Partnership, he was Smart Grid Program Manager at Tollgrade Communications, where he managed field trials of the company’s LightHouse distribution grid sensors, and led projects to integrate the system with third-party communications platforms. As the company’s electric utility subject matter expert, he served as a bridge between clients and internal design engineers developing technologies and applications to meet client needs and specifications.
Prior to his tenure at Tollgrade, Mr. Honath was Manager of Reliability & Standards in the Asset Management group at Duquesne Light Company, where he supervised development of the company’s multi-year capital and maintenance plans, and collaborated with the Public Utility Commission, the Energy Association of Pennsylvania, and other Pennsylvania electric utilities to develop standards and benchmarks for distribution reliability performance and maintenance practices. During this time, Duquesne Light’s reliability measures improved by 15 to 25 percent, becoming one of the most reliable electric distribution systems in Pennsylvania. He also served on a five-person management team that led the company’s Credit Department to reduce uncollected revenue by 50 percent over a five-year period, while maintaining the company’s customer satisfaction levels.
Mr. Honath received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. He is married and lives in Pittsburgh’s South Hills area.