Principle InvestigatorProfessor Van P. Carey

Professor Carey is widely recognized for his research on near-interface micro-scale phenomena, thermophysics and transport in liquid-vapor systems, and computational modeling and simulation of energy conversion and transport processes.  Since joining the Berkeley faculty in 1982, Professor Carey’s research has spanned a variety of applications areas, including fuel cells, solar power systems, building and vehicle air conditioning, forging and casting of aluminum, phase change thermal energy storage, Rankine cycle power for manned space missions, heat pipes for aerospace applications, high heat flux cooling of electronics, heat transfer in porous burners, data center energy efficiency, energy sustainability of information processing, and advanced solar absorber and turbo-machinery technologies for Rankine cycle power generation.

Current Interests:
Energy conversion and transport; molecular-level modeling of thermophysics and transport in multiphase systems; statistical thermodynamics; thermal management and energy efficiency of electronic information systems; boiling phenomena in pure fluids and binary mixtures; surface wetting effects in condensation processes; heat pipes; energy-based sustainability analysis of energy conversion systems; high temperature solar collector technologies; radial flow turbines and disk rotor drag turbine expanders for green energy conversion technologies; computer-aided design of energy systems.

Ph.D. Student – Samuel Cabrera

Sam is interested in renewable and sustainable energy that will help create more efficient technology. In a broader sense, interested in engineering and technology that will help developing countries become more sustainable. He enjoys working on projects from which he can visualize people in rural areas like India or Latin America, directly benefiting from. I am also interested in biology, specifically the human body and bio-mimicry.

Sam, entering his second year at Berkeley, is working on the project developing nanostructured surfaces and exploring their performance to increase heat dissipation. Currently participating in a US-China grant to reduce water usage at power plants he is focusing on the pool boiling applications of these surfaces.

Outside Interests:
Sam is  deeply involved with his Catholic faith and considers himself a family person. He is really passionate about soccer (playing and watching) and he used to play competitively, but now just play with friends and family. He also like other sports: basketball, football (played in HS), and baseball. He is also into music: Christian contemporary, country, hip-pop, Mexican regional, and cumbia (hoping to get better at dancing cumbia though).
Overall, he enjoys talking about God, life, and sports.

Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Irvine
Hometown: Coachella, CA

Ph.D. Student – Paige Balcom

Paige is pursuing a PhD in heat transfer and development engineering. She is passionate about using engineering, entrepreneurship, and human centered design to create jobs and solve societal challenges, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Paige founded a research project to locally recycle plastic waste into construction materials and other saleable products in Uganda. Her research led to co-founding a social enterprise called Takataka Plastics. The company has over 30 employees in Gulu, Uganda and is the only local recycler of PET plastic waste (water and soda bottles) in Uganda. Takataka Plastics uses a community-centered approach to find innovative solutions to create a local, circular economy, educate community members about recycling, and create local employment opportunities. The company focuses on hiring street-connected youth and offers all staff trauma counseling.

Outside Interests:
Paige likes playing sports, running, biking, and being outside. She also enjoys reading and teaching and is passionate about social justice across the globe. Paige founded a student group at Berkeley called the Education Initiative for Development (EID) to raise awareness about educational needs in developing countries. While Paige was President, EID provided consulting services to a Rwandan non-profit that trains girls to code. Paige is also involved in Church Without Walls in Berkeley and loves talking about life, faith, and Uganda.

Undergraduate Institution: University of New Hampshire
Hometown: Londonderry, NH
Contact:, LinkedIn

Ph.D. Student – Alanna Cooney

After graduating with a BS in Mechanical Engineering, Alanna spent four years working as a project manager and HVAC designer specializing in mission critical facilities and high-tech workplaces. She recently completed her MS at Marquette University where her research focused on developing new computational methods for modeling vaporizing multicomponent droplets to investigate the effects of preferential vaporization on combustion behavior. Alanna hopes to combine her industry experience in HVAC design with her past research experience on droplet vaporization while working in the Energy and Multiphase Transport Laboratory. She is passionate about developing practical and sustainable solutions to reduce energy usage in HVAC systems. Her most recent research projects have focused on using lattice Botlzmann methods to develop mesoscale models to better understand how nanobubbles nucleate within a nanostructure coating.

Outside Interests:
Alanna enjoys spending time with her foster dogs, hiking, traveling, snowboarding, and doing crossword puzzles. 

Undergraduate Institution: Washington University in St. Louis
Masters Institution: Marquette University
Hometown: Mililani, HI
Contact:, LinkedIn

Ph.D. Student – Ursan Tchouteng Njike

Ursan is interested in applying machine learning to learn more about phase change. He hopes to use the insights from his study to build energy-efficient systems. He is currently working on the application of machine learning tools to assess surface dry out during nucleate and transition boiling on surfaces with different wetting and substrate properties.

Outside Interests:
Ursan is very passionate about education. He is currently leading the Education Initiative for Development that was founded by his labmate, Paige. He is also a Graduate Student Parent Advocacy Project Director of the Graduate Assembly as a student parent himself. He also enjoys djing at events, playing soccer, and grabbing coffee with friends.

Undergraduate Institution: Clarkson University
Hometown: Douala, Cameroon

Ph.D. Student – Anisa Silva

Originally hailing from the sleepy city of Fresno in the Central Valley of California, Anisa joined the lab in Fall of 2021 after spending 5 years in industry as a Mechanical Engineer. While in industry, her most recent job was at GE Healthcare where she was on the mechanical engineering team which designs x-ray tubes for CT and interventional systems. Time in industry allowed her to realize her passion for sustainability and renewable energy which drove her decision to pursue a PhD. As a part of the EMT lab, Anisa’s most recent work focuses on leveraging machine learning techniques to predict droplet evaporation time on nanostructured surfaces.

Outside Interests:
Outside of academia, Anisa is very family oriented and enjoys spending time with her family, especially her 12 nieces and nephews. When she is not spending time with family, she also enjoys reading (most recently finished The Martian), attending concerts, and exploring the bay area. Her passion for sustainability carries outside of academia and she continues to learn how she can be more sustainable by critically examining her own habits such as clothing choices and switching to a hybrid vehicle.

Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Merced
Hometown: Fresno, CA
Contact:, LinkedIn

Ph.D. Student – Alan Maida


  • Lauren Gagnon (Ph.D. 2021, next position postdoctoral researcher at FM Global)
  • Emma McClure (Ph.D. 2021, next position Thermal Engineer at Gradient – LinkedIn)
  • Dre Helmns (Ph.D. 2019, next position postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – LinkedIn)
  • Claire (Kunkle) Wemp (Ph.D. 2018, next position Thermal Applications Engineer at DuPont – LinkedIn)
  • Zachary Theroff (M.S. 2018, next position Mechanical Systems Engineer at Boeing)
  • Ruth Herrera Reed (Ph.D. 2016)
  • Jorge Padilla (Ph.D. 2014, next position Mechanical Engineer at Google working on Data Center R&D)