Mark Johnson leads ARPA-E's Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage (GRIDS) program, which targets disruptive grid-level stationary energy storage technologies.
Johnson joined ARPA-E on assignment from NC State University, where he previously served as the Director of Industry and Innovation Programs for the Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems Center, a National Science Foundation Gen-III Engineering Research Center focused on the convergence of power electronics, energy storage, renewable resource integration and information technology for electric power distribution.
Johnson is an Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering as well as Director of Engineering for the Technology, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC) Program at NC State. His work has focused at the intersection of smart-grid, renewable energy, wide band-gap semiconductor materials and devices, communications and photonics technologies; as well as entrepreneurship, technology transfer, and public-private partnership formation. Johnson has been a successful entrepreneur, playing a critical role in the early-stage formation of Quantum Epitaxial Designs, EPI MBE Systems, and Nitronex.
Johnson holds a B.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University, both in Materials Science and Engineering.
About the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)
Recognizing the need to reevaluate the way the United States spurs innovation, the National Academies released a 2006 report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm", that included the recommendation to establish an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) within the Department of Energy (DOE). The America COMPETES Act, signed into law in August of 2007, codified many of the recommendations in the National Academies report. Authorized but without an initial budget, ARPA-E received $400 million funding in April 2009 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). ARPA-E is modeled after the successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the agency responsible for technological innovations such as the Internet and the stealth technology found in the F117A and other modern fighter aircraft. Specifically, ARPA-E was established and charged with the following objectives:
To bring a freshness, excitement, and sense of mission to energy research that will attract many of the U.S.'s best and brightest minds-those of experienced scientists and engineers, and, especially, those of students and young researchers, including persons in the entrepreneurial world To focus on creative "out-of-the-box" transformational energy research that industry by itself cannot or will not support due to its high risk but where success would provide dramatic benefits for the nation; To utilize an ARPA-like organization that is flat, nimble, and sparse, capable of sustaining for long periods of time those projects whose promise remains real, while phasing out programs that do not prove to be as promising as anticipated; and
To create a new tool to bridge the gap between basic energy research and development/industrial innovation.