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New hire, Brian Johnson, brings expertise in power electronics

September 12, 2017

Dr. Brian Johnson. Photo by Dennis Schroeder. 

This spring, Dr. Brian Johnson will advance the UW Department of Electrical Engineering’s (UW EE) research in power and energy systems by introducing new courses and research in power electronics.

Dr. Johnson currently works at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Power Systems Engineering Center. His research at NREL focuses on bridging advances in contemporary controls with power electronics and power systems. These are research themes he intends to bring to the UW this spring.

“I envision a diverse research portfolio that entails strong theoretical and experimental components,” Dr. Johnson said. “Over the years, I have formed several collaborations with staff at NREL, the DOE [Department of Energy], as well as several companies and universities. As part of my plans moving forward, my aim is to continue building on these relationships and forge an innovative research group that addresses fundamental challenges in energy conversion and grid integration of renewable energy.”

Renewable energy and energy conversion are strong focuses of Dr. Johnson’s research. In 2015, he received a 3-year, $3.8 million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop distributed inverter controllers, which enable reliable control of low-inertia power systems. This research supports the development of future of power systems driven by sustainable energy resources.

Dr. Johnson’s research portfolio also includes a recent grant from NREL’s R&D Program to advance next-generation renewable system architectures. In this project, he applies advances in wide-bandgap devices to produce medium voltage power electronics circuits that are scalable in both architecture and control.

As a researcher with unique and impactful contributions to the field of power and energy systems, Dr. Johnson will bring new dynamism to the department’s research. Dr. Johnson and UW EE’s shared vision for innovation brings exceptional promise to the future of power electronics.

“During my campus visits, I got the clear impression that UW’s EE department is an intellectually dynamic place that truly places value on innovation and scholarly contributions,” Dr. Johnson said. “There is a great opportunity for me to make a unique contribution within the Power and Energy Systems area by introducing new courses and research on power electronics.”