Center Leadership and Staff
Project Manager, STEPs4GROWTH Clean Energy and Storage1127 Peacock Hall
Kate serves as the Clean Energy and Storage Project Manager for the Appalachian Energy Center’s participation in the statewide STEPs4GROWTH grant, a workforce development program that will deliver community college training in key sectors of North Carolina’s clean energy economy, with a focus on historically underserved regions. Kate previously worked as a state policy advisor for New England’s grid operator and electricity market manager, the Independent System Operator of New England, served as the Executive Director of Clean Energy New Hampshire, and worked in private consulting as well as government regulation focusing on energy efficiency and renewable energy. She has a master’s degree in international energy management and policy from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in environmental policy and economic analysis from Boston University.
Research Scientist/Laboratory Manager1122 Peacock Hall(828) 262-7289
Hei-Young Kim is the Research Scientist and Lab Manager for Nexus-Bioenergy at the Appalachian Energy Center. She earned her master's degree in renewable energy engineering from Appalachian State in 2014. Her topics of research focus are "waste to energy" and "efficient
greenhouse heating for the growing season extension". Hei-Young conducts collaborative research with local partner farms and businesses for the Nexus project and works on grant writing. She has organized several workshops and field days at partner farms and Nexus research sites.
Program Specialist1115 Peacock Hall(828) 262-8631
As Program Specialist for the Appalachian Energy Center and the Research Institute for Environment, Energy and Economics (RIEEE), Caitlin is primarily responsible for providing financial management on post-award grant activities and administrative management of funded projects. Caitlin earned her Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from Appalachian State in 2016, and has most recently worked at UNC Asheville.
Program and Research Development1119 Peacock Hall(828) 262-7514
Grace handles a variety of program and research development activities including funding opportunity identification, research team building, concept and program development and related workshops and events. She also supports the directors of the Appalachian Energy Center and the RIEEE to develop and cultivate partnerships and external collaborations. Her general interests lie at the food/energy nexus and include sustainability education and the role of human agency in environmental exploitation. She holds an undergraduate degree in international business and Asian studies from the College of Charleston and a Master of Arts in Human Geography from Appalachian State.
Director1123 Peacock Hall(828) 262-8264
Dr. Jamie Russell serves as Director of the Appalachian Energy Center and is an associate professor of Building Science at Appalachian State University. He holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Clemson University and received his doctor of philosophy degree in mechanical engineering from the University of South Carolina in 2004. Dr. Russell carried out his post-doctoral research as a Faraday Research Fellow at Ulster University in Belfast focusing on renewable energy in buildings.
Russell joined the faculty at Appalachian State University in 2008. During his tenure as Appalachian, he served for two years (2014-2016) as a visiting professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.
Dr. Russell has managed three Solar Decathlon Competition projects including the Solar Homestead (US Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon 2011), Solar Decathlon Europe 2014, and US DOE Solar Decathlon 2017. His current research focuses on energy in buildings, energy efficiency and harmonizing building energy consumption and renewable energy sources with the local utility grid.
Outreach Manager1126 Peacock Hall(828) 262-8913
James Sharp serves the Appalachian Energy Center’s mission by facilitating partnerships to co-create clean energy strategies and policies supporting economic growth, environmental protection, and resilience for North Carolina communities. He manages the Center’s workshops program and other extension initiatives. James has nearly 20 years of experience serving organizations and communities with a focus on strategic planning, business development, project management, and stakeholder engagement programs. Certified by the American Institute of Community Planners, James is a doctoral student in urban planning and public affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington, where his areas of research focus include sociotechnical transitions in rural communities, location behavior and urban spatial structure, and the economic and social benefits of public space.