Meet The Team

Our research group is comprised of a diverse group of researchers. You can learn about our team below!

Research Scientists

Adil Khurram

akhurram [at] eng [dot] ucsd [dot] edu

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Adil Khurram is an assistant project scientist working under the supervision of Prof. Jan Kleissl on the NSF-funded project DERConnect which is a national testbed, under development, for distributed controls in power and energy systems. He received his B.S. degree from the National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan in 2013 and his M.S. degree from the American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, UAE in 2016 both in electrical engineering. He earned his Ph.D. degree also in electrical engineering from the University of Vermont (UVM), Burlington, VT, USA. At UVM he was advised by Prof. Mads Almassalkhi and Prof. Luis Duffaut Espinosa. He has been a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) since 2014.
Research: His research interests include optimization and control of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), statistical electrical load modeling, and forecasting of renewable energy resources. During his Ph.D. degree, he worked on Packetized Energy Management (PEM) which is a control methodology that enables aggregators to manage hundreds of thousands of DERs with minimal communication. Specifically, he developed Markovian models to predict the population dynamics as well as virtual battery models to characterize the power and energy capacity of DERs under PEM. He is currently working on developing a national testbed DERConnect that will allow researchers from both academia and industry to implement and validate novel control techniques, such as PEM, at scale and in a heterogeneous environment.

Kohei Murakami

k1murakami [at] ucsd [dot] edu

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Kohei Murakami (he/him) is a postdoctoral scholar in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, under the supervision of Prof. Jan Kleissl in his NSF-funded research project, DERConnect since June 2022. He received his B.E. and Ph.D. in Engineering degrees from Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan, in 2016 and 2021. At Waseda University, he was supervised by Prof. Yasuhiro Hayashi and Prof. Hideo Ishii, both in the department of Advanced Science and Engineering. Before joining UCSD, he worked for the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI), Japan from 2021 to 2022.

Research: Kohei’s research interests include optimization, cybersecurity, and control of power systems and inverter resource-based microgrids. For his Ph.D. pursuit, Kohei worked on optimal voltage controls using step voltage regulators in distribution networks with photovoltaics. As part of the Ph.D. project, he developed a data-driven voltage control method using historical voltage measurements at multiple sensors in distribution networks. Also, he developed a dynamic control parameters optimization method for a step voltage regulator to maximize its voltage control performance considering the step voltage regulator’s durability. Both of his works are supported and consulted by Chubu Electric Power Grid Co., Inc. During his duty with CRIEPI, he was responsible for power quality analysis in distribution networks, working on supraharmonics impacts of solar inverters in distribution networks. Since he joined UCSD, he has been working on the real-time simulation of microgrids with distributed energy resources (DERs) using real-time simulators, which are Real-Time Digital Simulator (RTDS) and Typhoon Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) simulator for DERConnect. DERConnect aims to develop a test bed of DERs and microgrids, which is remotely accessible for nationwide researchers, and then his responsibilities cover the simulation of DERs and power grids in those real-time simulators and industry-standard communication protocols to control those simulated components.

Ph.D. Candidates

Cristian Cortes-Aguirre

ccortesa [at] eng [dot] ucsd [dot] edu


Cristian Cortes-Aguirre (he/him) is from Santiago, Chile. Cristian is a Ph.D. student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at UCSD. He is advised by Professor Jan Kleisl. He graduated from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile in Santiago, Chile with a master’s degree in 2012. Besides studying, there he was playing soccer and involved in outreach activities like collaborating with physics classes in a non-profit pre-college program. Cristian has worked as a Project Engineer and a Researcher for five years where he focussed on solar energy technologies and solar resource assessment. His passion for physics and renewable energy has inspired him to get his Ph.D. in renewable energy grid integration.

Research: Cristian’s research interests include solar resource assessment, solar forecasting, and distributed optimization and control of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs). His earlier research work focused on solar resource assessment through satellite images and short-term solar forecasting using sky images. His current research includes distributed optimization for voltage regulation using reactive power from solar inverters in distribution feeders with high PV penetration. He also focuses on demand charge reduction by optimal storage system dispatches.

Manasa Muralidharan

m1murali [at] eng [dot] ucsd [dot] edu

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Manasa Muralidharan (she/her) is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Mechanical Engineering department at UCSD co-advised by Prof. Jan Kleissl and Prof. Patricia Hidalgo-Gonzalez. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering with Distinction from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (University), Coimbatore, India in 2017. She was a study-abroad student at UCSD for 3 semesters, where she completed her undergraduate research project under Prof. Jan Kleissl. She studied the impact of shading from rooftop solar photovoltaics on building heating and cooling energy use and costs. It was her experience working on this research project that fueled her interest in the grid integration of renewable energy.

Research: Manasa is broadly interested in distributed control, optimization, and learning for power grids with a high share of renewable and distributed energy resources. Her earlier research work was on optimal control for battery energy storage systems. As a part of an ARPA-E OPEN project, she developed a system-level optimal controller for a novel heterogeneous unifying battery system that improves state-of-health uniformity, performance, and reliability of 2nd-life electric vehicle batteries. Her current research focuses on frequency control. As a part of an ARPA-E NODES project, she developed a power flow model of the UCSD microgrid to test the microgrid response to a secondary frequency regulation request from the grid operator. She also contributed to one of the first real-world, large-scale demonstrations of distributed secondary frequency control using heterogeneous distributed energy resources on the UCSD microgrid. Her current research includes distributed frequency control and safety-guaranteed learning-based frequency control for power grids with low and time-varying inertia.

Ryan Greenough

rgreenou [at] eng [dot] ucsd [dot] edu

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Ryan Greenough is a 5th year Ph.D. student from Davis, CA. He works in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at UCSD and is advised by Professor Jan Kleissl. He graduated from Santa Clara University with a Masters and Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2016 and 2017, respectively. While at Santa Clara University, he was a varsity cross-country and track athlete. Currently, he is a member of the UC San Diego Triathlon Club.
After an internship at NASA Ames, revolving around developing adaptive control algorithms for a flexible-wing aircraft, he was inspired to delve into the applications of control theory in graduate school. During his time at UCSD, he has researched risk-averse decision-making strategies for the localization of autonomous vehicles and microgrid optimization.

Research: Currently, Ryan’s research focuses on applications of decentralized/distributed optimal power flow (OPF) to extreme weather events. Previously his work helped develop electrical load forecasts of UCSD’s microgrid. During the summer, Ryan works with NIWC Pacific in the Cryogenic Exploitation of Radio Frequency (CERF) lab as a part of the SMART Fellowship.

Avik Ghosh

avghosh [at] eng [dot] ucsd [dot] edu

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Avik Ghosh is a Ph.D. student in the Grid Integration group of Prof. Jan Kleissl. He hails from the ‘City of Joy’, Kolkata (though he is more fond of the former name, Calcutta), India, and has completed his schooling (’15) and bachelor’s education (’19) from there, before joining UCSD in Fall ’19. The rising carbon footprint of the modern world deeply concerns him. He hopes that through his research, someday, he will be able to effect some (small) change in the quest towards the transformation to a majorly renewable energy-powered future.
Avik likes to play the guitar and listen to music in his spare time. He has a deep interest in Bengali (and more generally, non-fiction) literature, world (especially Indian) history, geopolitics, and political philosophies. He likes being a realist in his political thoughts/conducts, whilst being a romantic in his artistic pursuits. Like most other Calcuttans, he likes to engage in the quintessential freestyle chit-chat, Calcutta adda.

Research: Avik’s current research focuses on applying control, probability theory, and convex optimization for smart charging/discharging of EVs and batteries. Thus far, Avik has mainly focused on reducing demand charges incurred by consumers to utilities by smart usage of microgrid infrastructure.
Whilst an undergrad at the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, he did research on the design and thermal modeling of solar-powered liquid desiccant cooling systems for hot and humid tropical/subtropical areas of the world. He also interned at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur where he designed a standalone solar cooling system for maintaining sufficient human thermal comfort conditions, throughout the year in office buildings in Kolkata.

Ph.D. Students

Yi-An Chen

yic002 [at] eng [dot] ucsd [dot] edu


Yi-An Chen is from Taiwan, also known as Formosa. Yi-An is a 5th year Ph.D. in Professor Jan Kleisl’s research group in the Center of Energy Research at UCSD. She got a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from National Taiwan University. There her research focused on Capacitive Deionization for the water-energy nexus. Yi-An interned at the etching process department of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturer Company. She loves mountaineering and rock climbing. Her passion for the environment and renewable energy have inspired her to get her Ph.D. in renewable energy grid integration.

Research: Yi-An’s research interests focus on optimal BESS dispatch for demand charge management and energy market participation in California, EV flexibility, and optimal EV scheduling for load shedding and marginal CO2 emission reduction.

Graham McClone

gmcclone [at] eng [dot] ucsd [dot] edu

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Graham McClone is from the rural community of Placerville, California. Graham is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Center for Energy Research in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at UCSD, where is advised by Professor Jan Kleissl. As an undergrad, he attended Santa Clara University where completed his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Aerospace Engineering in 2017. Upon graduating, Graham played professional water polo in France. His favorite activities are surfing and rock climbing. His passion for the environment and renewable energy have inspired him to get his Ph.D. in renewable energy grid integration.

Research: Graham’s research interests focus on forecasting and control of distributed energy resources.

Melek Ben-Ayed

mbenayed [at] ucsd [dot] edu


Melek Ben-Ayed (he/him) is a first-year Ph.D. student and is advised by Dr. Jan Kleissl in the Center for Energy Research. Melek is from Sfax, Tunisia, and has lived in the state of Kansas for 10 years. Melek graduated from the University of Kansas (KU) in Lawrence, Kansas with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in May of 2022. At KU, Melek served as Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Student Advisory Board, President of the KU American Society of Mechanical Engineers, an engineering representative in the KU Student Senate, and the vice president of the KU Sunrise Movement student organization. Melek’s passion for climate justice has driven him to pursue a Ph.D. in renewable energy grid integration.
In his spare time, Melek enjoys cycling to explore different parts of San Diego, cooking meals from around the world, or simply scrolling social media. He enjoys reading and listening to podcasts that focus on climate justice and other social justice issues. When he gets the opportunity, he enjoys traveling and meeting new people from across the world.

Research: Melek’s research interest is renewable energy integration in a safe and efficient manner using methods such as convex optimization, controls, and Reinforcement Learning. His current research focuses on developing a Reinforcement Learning Control mechanism for smart EV charging.
As an undergraduate student at the University of Kansas, Melek worked with Professor Candan Tamerler on biomaterials, and later on, with Professor Christopher Depcik on thermodynamics.

Staff Alumni

The Lab Throughoughout The Years