Energy Speakers 2013

William Acker, Ph.D.

Executive Director, New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST)

William Acker, Ph.D., is a well-known and highly regarded scientist and entrepreneur in the field of energy. He is a serial entrepreneur who has been instrumental in the founding of several successful energy-related businesses. Dr. Acker founded MTI Microfuel Cells, Inc., a leader in the design, development, and implementation of direct methanol microfuel cells, and served as CEO from the company’s inception until May 2006. He is founder and chairman of Taconic Energy, Inc., a developer of fuel additives to improve vehicle efficiency and Optiwind, Corp., a developer of accelerated wind turbines. Dr. Acker previously served as vice president of technology and production development at Plug Power, Inc. where he was instrumental in building Plug from a small R&D lab to a product development and manufacturing company. He also held managerial and scientific positions at Texaco Fuel and Lubrications Technology, where he developed new fuels, testing techniques, and emission-improving fuel additives.

Dr. Acker is dedicated to promoting energy technology and the energy industry in New York State. He is a co-founder of New Energy New York and serves on the advisory board for the Center for Future Energy Systems. He also serves on the advisory boards of Energy Rotors, a company located in Schenectady, N.Y., and the Paul J & Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship at Rensselaer (N.Y.) Polytechnic Institute. He received his Ph.D. in applied physics and engineering from Yale University and a B.S. in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic University.


David Droz

Associate, Business Development – Telecoms
Urban Green Energy (UGE)

David Droz manages the Telecoms division at Urban Green Energy (UGE), where he is responsible for coordinating the deployment of UGE Fusion to remote telecom base stations around world. He thrives in the startup environment and has been involved in engineering, product design, manufacturing, marketing, and business development at various technology companies. After completing a fellowship at Haifa’s Technion Institute of Technology and a stint at Bell Helicopter in Texas, Droz moved to Israel, working as an aerospace engineer developing urban rotorcraft. After returning to the United States, he has shifted his focus from aerospace to energy (and uses that energy to speak very loudly while he is on the phone). Droz is from Sixburgh, Penn., and holds a bachelor of science degree  in mechanical engineering, with a concentration in aerospace, from Drexel University.


Susanna Hoffman, Ph.D.

Anthopologist/Director, Hoffman Consulting

Susanna Hoffman (Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley) is a disaster anthropologist, former professor, and author, co-author and editor of 10 books, two ethnographic films, and more than 40 articles and columns.  Among her books are:  Catastrophy and Culture (School of American Research Press, 2002) and The Angry Planet (Routledge, 1999), both co-authored with Anthony Oliver-Smith.  Her ethnographic films are the award-winning Kypseli: Women and Men Apart and the Emmy Award-winning The Nature of Culture. In 2001, she was the first recipient of the Fullbright Foundation’s new Aegean Initiative Grant, shared between Greece and Turkey after their recent earthquakes; she worked and lectured on the disaster issues facing both countries. In the past few years, Dr. Hoffman has also worked on pre- and post- disaster issues in Ache, Sumatra, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, El Salvador, India, and within the United State on Hurricane Katrina, the Deep Water Oil Spill, the Oakland Firestorm, and other disaster situations. She has served as a board member of a Project Concern International, an NGO dealing with disaster relief and sustainable development in 13 countries.

Dr. Hoffman has advised the Red Cross, Red Crescent, Northwest Medical Teams, and other disaster relief organizations. She gives talks and consults nationally and internationally on disaster issues, and appears frequently on television and radio shows.  She recently gave a keynote address at the second International Conference of Disaster Managers in New Delhi, India; the 10th anniversary of the Gujarat Earthquake in Ahmedabad, India; the Crismark Conference; and the International Society Meetings in Sweden. Each year, she addresses the Natural Hazards Workshop. Dr. Hoffman has advised the National Science Foundation on disaster projects and the United States government on vulnerability and climate change. Some of her topics include the overview of the entire disaster scenario, the stages of disaster events, perception of risk and danger, identifying the victims of disaster, gender and disaster issues, disaster and culture change, disaster resilience and trust, and the gap between disaster knowledge and government and agency policy.


Rosy Lum

Chief Analyst, TransmissionHub

Rosy Lum has been covering the United States utility industry for TransmissionHub for more than four years. She began her career as an energy journalist at SNL Financial, and established its New York news desk. While there, she covered topics ranging from energy finance and renewable policies and incentives to master limited partnerships and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Thereafter, she honed her energy and utility focus at the Financial Times' dealReporter, where she covered and broke stories on oil and gas and utility mergers and acquisitions.


Douglas L. Melzer, M.B.A.

President and Chief Executive Officer
Long Beach Medical Center

Douglas L. Melzer, M.B.A., was appointed to the position of CEO of Long Beach Medical Center on Sept. 1, 2000.  In this position, he is responsible for the overall operations of the 162-bed hospital and the 200-bed Komanoff Center for Geriatric and Rehabilitative Medicine.

Melzer joined the Medical Center in 1976 and served as its chief operating officer beginning in 1980.  Prior to joining the Medical Center, he worked at the Department of Health of the City of New York.

He is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives; the immediate past chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nassau Suffolk Hospital Council, and a member of the board of trustees of the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS). Melzer also has served as chairman of HANYS’s Continuing Health Services Committee and as a member of the Regents Advisory Committee of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the Society of Hospital Planning, the American Health Planning Association, the New York Society for Health Planning, and the Healthcare Executives Club.

Meltzer has served as a clinical instructor in the Graduate School of Public Administration at New York University and a preceptor in the School of Healthcare Policy at Pennsylvania State University. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Adelphi University and an M.B.A. from Wagner College.


Cynthia Rosenzweig

Senior Research Scientist
Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA

Cynthia Rosenzweig heads the Climate Impacts Group at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. She is co-chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the mayor to advise the city on adaptation for its critical infrastructure. She co-led the Metropolitan East Coast Regional Assessment of the U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, sponsored by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. She was also a coordinating lead author of the IPCC Working Group II Fourth Assessment Report.

Rosenzweig is also co-director of the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) and co-editor of the first UCCRN Assessment Report on Climate Change and Cities (ARC3), the first-ever global, interdisciplinary, cross-regional, science-based assessment to address climate risks, adaptation, mitigation, and policy mechanisms relevant to cities. She is the founder of AgMIP, a major international collaborative effort to assess the state of global agricultural modeling, understand climate impacts on the agricultural sector, and enhance adaptation capacity, as it pertains to food security, in developing and developed countries. Rosenzweig was named as one of the “10 People Who Mattered in 2012” by the science journal Nature. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, she joins impact models with climate models to project future outcomes of both land-based and urban systems under altered climate conditions. She is a professor at Barnard College and a senior research scientist at the Earth Institute at Columbia University.


Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Assistant Administrator for Weather Services and Director, National Weather Service

In this role at the National Weather Service, Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D., is responsible for the day-to-day civilian weather operations for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters, and ocean areas.  Prior to this position, he served as director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) for 13 years and was responsible for directing and planning the science, technology and operations related to NCEP's nine centers:  Central Operations, Environmental Modeling Center, Ocean Prediction Center, Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, and the Climate Prediction Center, located, respectively, in Camp Springs, Md.; the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla.; the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.; the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo.; and the Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Dr. Uccellini was the director of the National Weather Service’s Office of Meteorology from 1994 to 1999, chief of the National Weather Service’s Meteorological Operations Division from 1989 to 1994, and section head for the Mesoscale Analysis and Modeling Section at the Goddard Space Flight Center's Laboratory for Atmospheres from 1978 to 1989.

Dr. Uccellini received his Ph.D. (1977), master’s (1972), and bachelor of science (1971) degrees in meteorology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles and chapters in books on subjects including analysis of severe weather outbreaks, snowstorms, gravity waves, jet streaks, cyclones, and the use of satellite data in analysis and modeling applications. He is the co-author of a widely acclaimed two-volume AMS Monograph Northeast Snowstorms, published in 2004; and he has authored chapters in the 1990 AMS Publication Extratropical Cyclones; the 1999 AMS publication The Life Cycles of Extratropical Cyclones; and the 2008 AMS Publication, Synoptic Dynamic Meteorology and Weather Analysis and Forecasting.


Rahul Walawalkar, Ph.D., CEM, CDSM

Executive Director, India Energy Storage Alliance, and
Vice President, Emerging Technologies & Markets, Customized Energy Solutions

Rahul Walawalkar leads the emerging technologies and markets practice for Customized Energy Solutions, focusing on energy storage, renewable, demand response, and smart grid technologies as well as international markets. An internationally acclaimed expert in energy management, electricity markets, emerging technologies, and new product development, he has authored more than 100 technical papers/presentations including reports on demand response and energy storage. Walawalkar serves on the board of directors of the Electricity Storage Association and provides input on the demand response and energy storage policy to FERC & various state agencies. He is also executive director of the India Energy Storage Alliance and is part of the executive council of the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy in India.  He has served as an expert on evaluation panels for the U.S. Department of Energy’s smart grid projects.

Walawalkar holds a Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University. He also holds a master’s degree in energy management from New York Institute of Technology and undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering from Walchand College of Engineering.  He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Computer Society of India’s Young IT Professional Award and the Demonstration of Energy Efficiency Development scholarship from American Public Power Association; he is also recognized as one of the Legends of Energy by the Association of Energy Engineers, U.S.A.


Rae Zimmerman

Director, Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems
Professor of Planning and Public Administration, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University

Rae Zimmerman’s teaching and research encompasses environmental quality, environmental health risk management, and urban infrastructure. Some specific areas of focus include social and environmental performance measures for the resiliency of urban infrastructure services in the face of extreme events of both natural and human origins. The author of Transport, the Environment and Security (2012), Zimmerman is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and past president and fellow of the International Society for Risk Analysis. Former advisory committee appointments include: member of the U.S. EPA Science Advisory Board Homeland Security Advisory Committee, the New York City Panel on Climate Change, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee on the Review and Evaluation of the Army Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program, the U.S. EPA Board of Scientific Counselors, the U.S. EPA National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) Working Group on Drinking Water Research, the NAS Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment, working groups for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s sustainability commission, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Comparative Risk Committee. She earned a B.A. in chemistry from the University of California (Berkeley), a master of city planning from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in planning from Columbia University.