MSUToday
Published: Jan. 20, 2020

MSU Bioeconomy Institute offering summer internships for battery research and development

Contact(s): Melanie Kauffman Office of Research and Graduate Studies office: (517) 432-4499 kauffm59@msu.edu

The Organic Energy Storage Lab, or OESLab, located in Holland, MI and led by Tom Guarr, offers a paid summer program that involves undergraduate students in relevant, real-world research.

The OESLab focuses on original research in all-organic “redox flow” batteries, plus other chemistry fields such as alternative energy, organic synthesis, analytical chemistry, electrochemistry, catalysis and device design.

The summer internship offers an excellent opportunity for students to perform research in an MSU laboratory and expand their technical skills. Many of the alumni of the program have gone on to work at national research and tech companies, or to continue their education at distinguished graduate schools.

Former interns have said that they loved “doing actual relevant science” and “liked the opportunity to work towards something with a real-life application that’s realistic and impactful.”

Guarr is the director of research and development for the MSU Bioeconomy Institute, or MSUBI, location in Holland, Michigan. He supports the chemical scale-up efforts for commercial clients served by MSUBI and continues to conduct his own research with a focus on developing efficient and safe battery storage. He has been offering the MSU summer program for nine years.

He is currently completing a two-year fellowship at Argonne National Lab after winning the opportunity to participate in its Chain Reaction Innovations Program through a pitch competition for his start-up company, Jolt Energy Storage Technologies, LLC.

Jolt has licensed MSU technologies in the battery domain. Knowledge gained through the Argonne program will allow Guarr to further extend his battery storage research and bring his licensed MSU technology to market.

Jolt was recently awarded a competitive Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, or DOE, to efficiently integrate their storage technology with solar panel arrays.

Guarr is also currently a finalist in the Shell GameChanger Accelerator™ Powered by NREL program. This program provides promising cleantech start-ups with access to financial resources, state-of-the-art facilities through the DOE National Renewable Energy Lab and world-class technical experts.

“The Department of Energy is very interested in research, products and companies that offer new ideas in alternative energy and they want the program participants to be successful,” stated Guarr. “I’m excited to incorporate this information into the MSU summer program for students.”

The program already incorporates practical elements such as a “Patents 101” presentation and several visits to local high-tech companies.

The paid MSU internship program runs for 10 weeks. Current college students or recent college graduates who have completed organic chemistry class and lab are eligible to apply.

Full details are available on the Organic Energy Storage Lab website and the deadline to apply is Feb. 15, 2020.