The UA Renewable Energy Network (REN) is a university-wide initiative designed to support the expanded regional, national, and global use of abundant, clean, and economical renewable energy by connecting community and industry to the UA’s research and educational programs. 

Transformative change in our production and use of energy is one of the most significant challenges of the 21st Century. As energy demands and carbon emissions increase, tremendous pressure is exerted on the reliability and resiliency of existing energy delivery systems and water supplies. The technological, economical, and social factors of energy change, taken together, represent the best opportunity for accelerating progress towards a fundamental shift in our energy future.

In partnership with researchers, students, business and government leaders, REN works to:

  • Reduce our reliance on carbon-emitting energy sources

  • Increase access to energy services and economic development potential

  • Effectively integrate renewable energy into a complex electric grid system

  • Develop pathways for advanced energy innovation

  • Understand the link between energy and water and improve access to these services

  • Promote sustainable approaches for urban and rural energy delivery systems

“REN fosters an environment of interdisciplinary collaboration, where researchers from all over campus are coming together to share resources and expertise. I had no idea how much campus research was complementary to my work.  These collaborations are improving the quality of my own research and strengthen our future grant proposals.”

– Brian Wheelwright, 2012 Energy Fellow and 2013 Exploratory Grant Recipient

REN Faculty Advisory Committee and Program Direction

Neal Armstrong

Dr. Neal Armstrong, Professor of Chemistry, Optical Sciences and Director of CISSEM

Dr. Neal Armstrong is a professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona since 1978. Dr. Armstrong's research interests include the interface science of solar energy conversion and energy storage materials, surface and interface characterization using photoemission spectroscopies and scanning probe microscopies, electrochemistry, and the development and characterization of new solar energy conversion platforms. Dr. Armstrong is the director of the UA’s Energy Frontier Research Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. His center is part of a team of scientists, engineers, and staff located at major universities and research centers in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, New Jersey, and Washington working on developing new photovoltaic (PV) energy conversion technologies. The UA center is pursuing shared research advancing the understanding of “interface science” underlying PV technologies.

Ardeth Barnhart

Ardeth Barnhart, Program Director for the Renewable Energy Network at the Institute of the Environment. 

Ardeth Barnhart directs the UA Renewable Energy Network.  Her work includes the development of a UA renewable energy policy program focusing on economic and policy development for innovation. She specializes in the design and implementation of strategies for the adoption of renewable energy, both in Arizona and nationally.  Prior to her appointment at the Institute of the Environment in 2010, Ardeth was the co-director of the Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy (AzRISE) at the UA. While there, she advised on the strategic direction of the institute and evaluated solar energy programs worldwide, with an emphasis on the economics of these programs and the underlying public policy decisions that impact their growth, sustainability, and interaction with technology development.

Eric Betterton

Dr. Eric Betterton, Department Head and Professor, Atmospheric Sciences

Dr. Betterton is a Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and in the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, where he is currently the Head and Director, respectively.  He holds courtesy appointments in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, and in the Division of Community, Environment and Policy, Zuckerman College of Public Health. His research in the laboratory and in the field is focused on environmental pollutants, especially those found in the air and water that might affect people.  For example, he studies toxic metals in airborne dust, the chemistry of rain and snow, and the environmental fate of sodium azide, the propellant used in certain automobile airbags.

Kimberly Ogden

Dr. Kimberly Ogden, Professor Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Ogden is currently on the managing board of the Society for Biological Engineering and the secretary of American Institute for Chemical Engineers.  Dr. Ogden's research focus includes bioreactor design for production of alternative fuels from algae and sweet sorghum and microbiological water quality. She is the engineering technical lead for the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB). NAABB is working to make biofuels and bioproducts from algae a reality. The team consists of multiple universities, government laboratories and industrial partners. 

Dr. Ogden is also involved in teacher outreach programs. She has run a NSF Research Experiences for Teachers Program for over ten years, where teams of teachers spend 5 to 6 weeks in the summer doing research in the UA laboratories and transfer what they learn directly to the K-12 classroom through relevant lesson plans. She is also the principal investigator for a NSF GK-12 engineering program. 

Stanley Reynolds

Dr. Stanley Reynolds, Professor of Economics, Eller College of Management

Dr. Reynolds' current research is in two main areas. First, he is continuing to work on a long-standing research program that examines the dynamics of oligopoly pricing and capacity investment decisions. The second line of research examines electricity restructuring issues, the regulation of energy markets, and integration of renewable energy into the electric grid.

REN is also a founding member of the University of Arizona’s Water, Environmental, and Energy Solutions (WEES), a funding initiative to integrate UA’s vast expertise in water, the environment, and energy. Established by the University of Arizona and the Arizona Board of Regents, WEES is co-managed by the Water Sustainability Program, the Institute of the Environment, and the Renewable Energy Network. WEES funds are used to support interdisciplinary and cross-sector collaborations concerning scientific, technological, and policy-related solutions to Arizona’s water, environment, and energy issues.

REN works closely with the staff of the Institute of the Environment on administrative and outreach program development.