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Welcome to New Associate Director of CAES

November 19, 2018

John Russell is the new associate director at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES), a research, education and innovation consortium working to solve regional and national energy challenges.

Russell, a joint-faculty appointment with the U of I and Idaho National Laboratory, will connect U of I's network of faculty, students, facilities and capabilities with the CAES consortium, which also includes INL, Boise State University, Idaho State University, the University of Wyoming and other affiliates. Russell takes the position effective Nov. 19.

As a recognized expert in chemistry and materials science, Russell will spend time mentoring U of I faculty members, students and staff while also coordinating and integrating research and educational activities between U of I and CAES.

Russell will be an integral member of the CAES leadership team, providing strategic insight and feedback that will help the organization solve regional energy challenges with national impact. He reports to Janet E. Nelson, vice president of U of I's Office of Research and Economic Development, and is also accountable to CAES Director Noël Bakhtian.

"CAES is a tremendously valuable collaboration between the member institutions with the ability to impact global problems in energy access and sustainability," Nelson said. "John's unique skills and experience will be invaluable in helping to align the activities of the University of Idaho and the other member institutions and contribute to shared success at CAES."

Russell comes to CAES after spending three years in policy advisor roles. He replaces Rich Christensen who has served as the U of I's interim associate director for CAES since 2017.

Through sponsorship of George Washington University, Russell served as congressional nuclear security fellow for the office of U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, where he advised Daines' legislative staff on science, technology and security on a variety of topics including quantum information science, advanced computing, 5G wireless and coal-fired power plants.

He was also a science and technology fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, serving as a cybersecurity research and development policy advisor for the National Science Foundation and as an energy and advanced computing research and development policy advisor for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Russell previously performed graduate and postdoctoral research at Illinois' Argonne National Laboratory. Before receiving his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012, Russell served as a chemical officer in the U.S. Army with a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at