Minority-Serving Institutions Partner with U.S. Energy Department to Advance Solar Energy Research

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) recently awarded $3.2 million to seven Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) as part of the Science and Technology Research Partnership pilot program. The program’s goal is twofold: to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within STEM fields and to advance the development of clean energy.

The DOE funding will support eight two-year solar energy research projects across the seven schools, which include historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI). The participating schools are:

  • Florida A&M University, an HBCU
  • San Diego State University, an HSI and AANAPISI
  • Texas State University, an HSI
  • University of Arizona, an HSI
  • University of the District of Columbia, an HBCU
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas, an HSI
  • University of New Mexico, an HSI

Each project will focus on a different area of solar energy research and also involve performance and career training for participating team members. Individual research projects include analyzing the impact of power outages on disadvantaged communities, improving the efficiency of certain solar cells, creating a solar energy storage platform, and more. 

In addition to furthering clean energy initiatives, the pilot program serves as a way to build stronger relationships between the DOE and institutions that have long been underrepresented among the department’s research programs, said Kelly Speakes-Backman, principal deputy assistant secretary for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, in a news release.

“This pilot program is a great opportunity to support and expand a diverse STEM workforce, prioritizing Minority-Serving Institutions in DOE’s research ecosystem,” Speakes-Backman said. “We’re proud to partner with these researchers as they bring innovative ideas and deep scientific expertise to advance solar energy on behalf of all Americans.”

This article was published in our June 2022 issue.