DGRP Spring 2021 Graduates

In May 2021, five students graduated from WSU and the DGRP in the fields of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering. They have accepted positions at PNNL and Commonwealth Edison.


Gowtham Kandaperumal
Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering

About: Kandaperumal’s next venture is working in the Utility industry at Commonwealth Edison as a Senior Engineer for the Chicago West region. His research focuses on distribution grid resiliency and he has been developing metrics to quantify the resiliency of cyber-physical systems with plans to use the metrics to assess infrastructural and operational upgrades to make distribution grids more resilient, and propose resiliency-driven control algorithms. During his time in PNNL, he developed a data-driven method to introduce tolerance to the effects of latency in microgrid applications.

DGRP Experience: “I have been encouraging others to be part of the DGRP because of the exposure, work culture, and collaborative nature of working in a national lab setting. The DGRP has given graduate students like me the chance to work together with subject-matter experts who can help answer many of your research questions in a short time.”


Monish Mukherjee
Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering

About: Mukherjee will be joining PNNL as a research engineer. His research focuses on developing architectures and coordination strategies for enabling smart consumers to proactively participate in power system markets ensuring reliable operation to facilitate smart consumers with fair grounds to compete in electricity trading and actively influence their governing tariffs. He has worked on a large-scale transactive energy framework for evaluating the impact of smart consumers to participate in wholesale market. The framework has been tested on the entire western interconnect system (Alberta to California) with 35,000 distribution networks.

DGRP Experience: “The DGRP has provided me an enriching experience of academic and national-laboratory research. The unique collaborative opportunity has cumulatively helped me to be multi-dimensional in designing research problems and adaptive during project execution. I would strongly encourage prospective graduate students to be a part of this unique opportunity.”


Xiaolu LiXiaolu Li
Ph.D. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering

About: Li is applying to a post-doctoral position at PNNL to continue her studies on method establishment of protein post-translational modification quantification and further application to various biological systems. Her research has been focused on bioconversion of lignocellulose to lipids to be used as precursors for production of biodiesel, an alternative to fossil-based fuels. This improved the understanding of principles and regulatory mechanisms in converting underutilized components of lignocellulose by oleaginous bacteria and discovered system-level potential pathways and biological processes shuttling various biomass-derived carbon to lipid biosynthesis. This work established a new proteomics workflow to observe redox level of metabolic enzymes of interest, enabling exploration of redox-dependent regulation in oleaginous bacteria.

DGRP Experience: “The DGRP offers a valuable opportunity to learn new technologies and communicate with scientists with different backgrounds at PNNL. It provided me with a different angle to think about my research and dig deeper with cutting-edge technologies.”


Benjamin Schuessler

Benjamin Schuessler
Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering

About: Schuessler has accepted a post-doctoral position within the Metals Processing and Performance team at PNNL. His research is focused on interface stereology in polycrystalline materials (extracting three-dimensional information from two-dimensional pictures), and he developed a method of characterization that can assist in studying the performance behavior of a given material through another lens. This project has far reaching applications to materials and computational science with plenty of opportunity to explore and research further.

DGRP Experience: “The DGRP was the gateway into my career goal of working in a national lab. It was a way to experience research outside of a university setting and step into a work culture focused on good communication, passionate workers, and work-life balance. Being able to be present at the lab itself during the latter half of your time as a graduate student is invaluable. I would highly recommend the DGRP to others because it is a chance to extend your reach as a student and researcher into an industrial setting that is meant to support you and your projects.”


Shuo Feng
Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering

About: Feng is planning to go on to a post-doctoral position. His current research is on developing high energy-density lithium-sulfur batteries, which can be used in future power grids and electric vehicles. During the last two years, his team at PNNL thoroughly discussed the challenges in practical sulfur cathodes and elucidated the design principles of sulfur cathodes, including the sulfur/carbon active materials and electrode structures, for practical applications. His investigations on material synthesis, cathode porosity and electrolyte permeability provided a basis for the next phase of lithium-sulfur battery research.

DGRP Experience: “I have had a great experience in the DGRP. At PNNL, there are plenty of outstanding scientists with different backgrounds. After training at PNNL, I am able to understand my research in different perspectives.”