Kevin O’Brien, Ph.D., has been appointed Director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, effective Dec. 2, 2013. Most recently O’Brien served as president of Energy Commercialization, LLC, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A technology expert and project manager with more than 20 years of experience, O’Brien has managed multi-million-dollar programs related to renewable and sustainable technologies and practices in the U.S. and abroad. His international project experience includes Europe, Middle East, and Asia. Among his professional awards are R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 award and a Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Technology Transfer.
He will lead an organization which for nearly 30 years has advocated and helped enable sustainable practices in industry and other organizations in Illinois. Effective strategies have included applied research, industry and government partnerships, technical assistance, technology demonstrations, and information dissemination.
O’Brien’s energy expertise encompasses both the supply side and demand side. He is experienced with projects involving both renewable energy as well as traditional fossil based fuels. His focus in renewables has been on the development of utility scale solar projects. As a project developer, he has brought together the necessary technical, regulatory, and financial considerations in order to move solar projects forward. He has also been involved with advisory services to the state of California and utility companies on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
O’Brien led multi-disciplinary teams at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the development of technologies aimed at resolving critical environmental and public health issues such as the contamination of ground water, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable development of transportation systems, cost effective water purification for low economic underdeveloped regions, and the removal of endocrine disruptors from water sources.
O’Brien received his B.S. in Polymer Engineering, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Macromolecular Engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.
“Dr. O’Brien’s record of effectiveness at bringing together diverse stakeholders for the development and deployment of renewable and sustainable technologies and practices is an excellent fit for ISTC,” said Institute Executive Director William W. Shilts. “His experience in senior management and as a technology innovator will provide leadership to meet the range of sustainable technology challenges our society faces.”
“ISTC is well positioned to be a leader in building collaborative networks between business, government and academia,” O’Brien said. “Today sustainable technology is a growing cultural force which we can move forward to maximize economic and environmental benefits.”
The Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois is the home of the State Scientific Surveys: Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois State Water Survey, and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. For over 160 years the Surveys have applied cutting-edge science and expertise to keep Illinois’ economy, environment and people prosperous and secure. www.prairie.illinois.edu
The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) was established in 1985 and joined the Prairie Research Institute with the other surveys in 2008. Its mission is to encourage and assist citizens, businesses, and government agencies to prevent pollution, conserve natural resources, and reduce waste to protect human health and the environment of Illinois and beyond. www.istc.illinois.edu