Global Health Tuesday: Energy Challenges and Creative Solutions for Global Health

GHI’s Global Health Tuesday Webinar Series is back for seconds! Join us on Tuesday, December 5, from 9-10am (note the earlier time of day), when Giri Venkataramanan, GHI Advisory Committee Member and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UW–Madison’s College of Engineering, leads the conversation.

Panelists include Rebecca Alcock, Maitreyee Marathe, and Mou Riiny. View the Zoom recording here (available December 6, 2023, at Noon, CST).

Meet the Moderator:

Giri Venkataramanan, PhD, is a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Giri Venkataramanan studied electrical engineering at the Government College of Technology, Coimbatore, India. He received a B.S. degree from the University of Madras, India, a M.S. degree from Caltech, and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, in 1992. He began his academic career at Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, before joining the faculty at UW-Madison in 1999. He is currently the Director of WEMPEC at UW-Madison, and Keith and Jane Nosbusch Professor of Engineering. He has been actively conducting research in the areas of power converter topologies, microgrids, wind power systems, and utility-scale power electronic systems. Dr. Venkataramanan is the recipient of several major awards recognizing his preeminence as an engineering educator at the department, college and university level, including the Chancellor’s Award.

Meet the Panelists:

Rebecca Alcock is a fourth-year doctoral student in the University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Engineering, studying Industrial and Systems Engineering in the Analytics for Human Development Lab with Professor Justin Boutilier.

She completed the graduate-level global health certificate in the spring and also has a distributed minor in planetary health. Rebecca received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UW–Madison’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, during which she specialized in medical device design and human-centered design. She obtained certificates in Entrepreneurship and International Engineering with a focus area of Latin America. Her research mission is to combine her current training in optimization and machine learning with her background in design to address pressing climate-health challenges. Rebecca’s primary work is on clean electrification of rural health facilities in low- and middle-income settings. She is conducting a case study in northern Colombia for this research in partnership with the Global Health Institute. In 2020 and 2021, Rebecca also served as the International COVID-19 Engagement Coordinator for the UW–Madison International Projects Office, coordinating the partnership between UW–Madison, the United Nations Development Programme, and Engineers Without Borders for community-centered pandemic response.

Maitreyee Marathe is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Energy Analysis and Policy, advised by Prof. Line Roald and Prof. Giri Venkataramanan.

Her research interests include developing energy access solutions in resource-constrained settings such as remote microgrids, solar home systems, and home energy management systems for low-income customers. Her research is informed by community-engaged energy access projects for underserved communities such as medically fragile families, people dependent on in-home medical appliances, and people experiencing homelessness. She is a part of the Wisconsin Power Systems research group and the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium.

Mou Riiny is the CEO of SunGate Solar Ltd in South Sudan.

Riiny left South Sudan as a young man during the civil war and was fortunate to study electrical engineering at the University of San Diego. In his studies, he remembers seeing a world map at night from NASA. Seeing the darkness over South Sudan inspired him to want to develop solutions for energy access in South Sudan. Following a senior project focused on designing solar energy systems in remote areas, he moved back to South Sudan in 2012, and in 2013, with funding support from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and clean energy investors, Mou launched SunGate Solar. From these humble beginnings, Mou has now grown SunGate to have over 65 staff, 200+ projects, and 2 MW+ of solar online in 13 states providing clean, reliable, affordable solar solutions to thousands across South Sudan. SunGate Solar’s core business is designing and installing off-grid solar power systems, but last year, it opened the very first solar-powered Utility-scale project in South Sudan and is now working to scale the model to other towns.