Sarah Kurtz

Professor, University of California, Merced

2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Sarah Kurtz is a Professor in UC Merced’s Materials Science and Engineering division, supporting California’s energy revolution through cutting-edge research and education. She is a world-renowned expert in the fields of multi-junction PV, concentrator PV, and PV reliability. Her research interests include understanding trends of renewable energy growth and addressing reliability issues of PV modules integrated into larger systems. Before joining UC Merced, she was a Principal Scientist and Reliability Group Manager at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). At NREL, she was a Group Manager for the PV Module Reliability Test and Evaluation Group, leading a team of 20 people working to quantify and predict the performance of PV in the field. Throughout her tenure at NREL, she played a critical role in developing and maintaining the laboratory’s reputation in PV research and development, helping to illuminate how to grow high-quality cells, how to measure multi-junction cells, and how their performance is affected under various spectra. In addition to her research, Kurtz served as a mentor for students and post-doctoral fellows. In her final years with NREL, she worked and still works to develop international standards with NREL colleagues and hundreds around the world through PVQAT (the International PV Quality Assurance Task Force) and the International Electrotechnical Commission. Kurtz also serves as a Research Fellow with the National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV) and was the Group Manager for the NCPV Reliability and Systems Engineering group. Kurtz holds six patents and authored or co-authored over 100 refereed publications and over 100 conference proceedings. She holds a BA in Chemistry and Physics from Manchester College and a PhD in Chemical Physics from Harvard University.