Lenfest Faculty, Staff & Researchers

Klaus S. Lackner, Ewing-Worzel Professor of Geophysics



Klaus Lackner is the Ewing Worzel Professor of Geophysics at Columbia University, where he is also the Director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy and a member of the Earth Institute faculty.  From 2006 to 2012 he was the Chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering.  Lackner’s current research interests include carbon capture and sequestration, air capture, energy systems and scaling properties (including synthetic fuels and wind energy), energy and environmental policy, lifecycle analysis, and zero emission modeling for coal and cement plants.

Lackner’s scientific career started in the phenomenology of weakly interacting particles. While searching for quarks, he and George Zweig developed the chemistry of atoms with fractional nuclear charge. He participated in matter searches for particles with a non-integer charge in an experiment conducted at Stanford by Martin Perl and his group. After joining Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in 1983, Lackner became involved in hydrodynamic work and fusion-related research.  He was a scientist in the Theoretical Division, but also an active part of the Laboratory’s upper management. He was instrumental in forming the Zero Emission Coal Alliance and was a lead author in the IPCC Report on Carbon Capture and Storage. In 2001, Lackner joined the faculty at Columbia University.  In 2004, he became a member of Global Research Technologies, LLC, which is now known as Kilimanjaro Energy, Inc.

Lackner earned his degrees from Heidelberg University, Germany: the Vordiplom, (equivalent to a B.S.) in 1975; the Diplom (or M.S.) in 1976; and his Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics, summa cum laude, in 1978.  He was awarded the Clemm-Haas Prize for his outstanding Ph.D. thesis at Heidelberg University. Lackner held postdoctoral positions at the California Institute of Technology and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center before beginning his professional career, and he attended Cold Spring Harbor Summer School for Computational Neuroscience in 1985. Lackner was also awarded the Weapons Recognition of Excellence Award in 1991 and the National Laboratory Consortium Award for Technology in 2001.


Ah-Hyung (Alissa) Park, Lenfest Associate Professor in Applied Climate Science

Associate Director



Professor Park is the Lenfest Associate Professor in Applied Climate Science at Columbia University and is also the Associate Director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, where she researches issues in energy, environmental engineering and particle technology. Some of Park’s areas of research interest are carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS); sustainable energy conversion systems; synthesis of hydrogen and liquid fuels from alternative energy sources; particle technology; electrostatic charging penomena in multiphase flows; and electrostatic tomography.

Park has received numerous honors and distinctions throughout her career as a researcher.  Recently she has been appointed as a member of the International Committee at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, where she has also been elected as the Vice-Chair (2009-2011) and Chair (2011-2013) of the Fluidization and Fluid-Particle Systems Group and Treasurer (2010-present) of the Particle Technology Forum.  She has also recently received the James Lee Young Investigator Award, the NSF Career Award, and a nomination for the Packard Fellowship.  In 2011, she was the distinguished speaker at the Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit.  A more complete list of her many accomplishments can be found on her website.

A graduate of the University of British Columbia, Professor Park received a Bachelor of Applied Science with distinction and a Masters of Applied Science, both in Chemical and Biological Engineering. She received a PhD degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the Ohio State University.

Lisa Phillips

Executive Director


Lisa manages the Lenfest Center’s overall operations and oversees its programs and outreach activities. She leads funding initiatives for the center’s cutting-edge scientific research in alternative energy solutions. In addition, as the Co-Founder/Co-Director of the Earth Institute’s PositiveFeedback initiative, she brings together artists and climate scientists for research collaborations around topics related to climate change. She comes from the nonprofit performing arts sector where she produced, managed, and represented inter/national contemporary dance, music, theater, and multi-disciplinary artists dealing with issues ranging from environment to politics and civic dialogue. She has an M.S. in Fundraising Management and Nonprofit Administration from Columbia University, and a B.A. in French from Boston University.

Allen Wright

Senior Staff Associate


Allen Wright is a senior staff associate at the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy at Columbia University and received his BS degree in Natural Resource Management from Michigan State University. His current research focuses on the characterization and improvement of air capture media as well as other related technologies. Allen has enjoyed several careers since including a decade of project management in commercial and industrial electrical construction and a decade of marine operations as Deputy Operations Director of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory piloting manned submersibles and remotely operated vehicles in support of NOAA sponsored oceanic research. This is followed by an appointment with Columbia University acting as a research engineer supporting the scientific community in the endeavor of converting the Biosphere II Center in Tucson, Arizona to a well-run and scientifically accepted research apparatus for climate and environmental research. Wright is also a co-founder and partner in Kilimanjaro, Inc., formerly Global Research Technologies, a privately held company dedicated to the development and commercialization of Air Capture Technology, a technology for the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Kristin Taylor

Program Manager


Kristin Taylor is the Program Manager at the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy at Columbia University. She received her B.A. in Political Science at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Sustainability Management through the Earth Institute at Columbia. Before starting at the Lenfest Center, Kristin worked in finance administration and budget operations for the Arts and Sciences at Columbia University.

Research Scientists

Christoph Meinrenken

Associate Research Scientist


Christoph Meinrenken is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering and associate research scientist at the Earth Institute/Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy. His research focusses on computer modeling to elucidate and improve the technological and economic performance of low carbon energy systems. Recent projects include automated product carbon footprinting (PepsiCo), electricity arbitrage in smart buildings (NIST), electrification of the transportation sector, and synthetic fuels (ABB).
Before joining Columbia, Meinrenken worked on modeling molecular spectra (MSE, Princeton University, 1996) and computational neuroscience (PhD Physics, Max Planck Institute, 2001). In addition to academic research and teaching, Meinrenken spent several years in the private sector, specializing in financial engineering and risk management.

Visiting Fellows

Emad Andarawis is a Senior Engineer with the Electronics Miniaturization Lab of GE Global Research. His current research interests are in the area of harsh environment sensors and sensor electronics for self-calibrating, ultra-low-power and high-temperature sensor subsystems, and energy harvesting sensor systems. Emad is researching scales and systems with Klaus Lackner focusing on energy production and smart grid applications.  Emad is a graduate of Columbia University (B.S. 1997, M.S. 1998) and currently holds 29 US patents.

Raghubir Gupta (gupta@rti.org) is the Senior Research Director at Research Triangle Institute’s (RTI) Center for Energy Technology.  He has 22 years of experience in coal gasification, gas cleanup, fluidization, reactor design, process engineering, and contaminant removal. Currently the senior research director, Center for Energy Technology (CET), Dr. Gupta is responsible for technical, financial, and administrative management of all Center activities. Principal areas of expertise for CET include hydrogen production, delivery, and storage; syngas cleaning; membrane separation; heterogeneous catalysis; and greenhouse gas control. Dr. Gupta also manages numerous projects in the area of catalysis and reaction engineering, including innovative approaches to the removal of sulfur from hydrocarbon fuels and syngas, as well as CO2 sequestration.  He is currently an Adjunct Visiting Research Scientist at LCSE and is working with Klaus Lackner on a project examining the feasibility of a small footprint reactor that can convert shale gas into liquid fuel.

Bob van der Zwaan (vanderzwaan@ecn.nl) is senior scientist at the Policy Studies department of the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) in Amsterdam and at Columbia University’s Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy (Earth Institute) in New York, and is adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Bologna. He is co-director of the International Energy Workshop (IEW), member of the Council of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, and lead author for Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 4th and 5th Assessment Reports). He held several visiting professorships, most recently at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH, Stockholm, 2010) and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IFW, 2008), and held research positions at Harvard University (Cambridge, 2002-2005), the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (1999-2001), Stanford University (Paolo Alto, 1999-2000), the Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI, Paris, 1997-1999) and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN, Geneva, 1992-1995). He was trained in economics (MPhil, 1995-1997, University of Cambridge, King’s College), physics (PhD, 1991-1995, NIKHEF, University of Nijmegen; MSc, 1987-1991, University of Utrecht) and international relations (Certificate, 1993-1994, IUHEI, University of Geneva). His research interest includes the fields of energy resources and climate change, environmental economics and technological innovation. He is (co-)author of over 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles, and contributor to, or editor of, a dozen books or book chapters.