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North Dakota Senator Ray Holmberg Receives Energy Champion Award

North Dakota State Senator Ray Holmberg
The University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) presented its Energy Champion Award to the Honorable Ray Holmberg, North Dakota State Senator. The presentation and a reception were held at the EERC on June 18. 

Senator Holmberg’s visionary leadership and long-standing commitment to higher education, industry, and a strong economy in North Dakota bring together the state’s research universities and energy industry, a connection critical to successful energy development regionally and nationwide. Throughout his career in the North Dakota Legislature, Senator Holmberg has been a staunch supporter of the University of North Dakota and the EERC. In the 66th Legislative Assembly, he championed Senate Bill 2249, which established the EERC as the State Energy Research Center of North Dakota (SERC) to conduct exploratory and innovative research that advances future energy opportunities and benefits the state’s economy and environment.

“Senator Holmberg has been a true champion of energy research in North Dakota,” said Tom Erickson, EERC CEO. “We’re privileged to present the Energy Champion award to him for his unwavering dedication to public service, his commitment to a strong state energy industry and economy, and his invaluable support for the work of the EERC.”

The Energy Champion Award was created in 1986 to honor individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary personal commitment to energy and environmental research and development. Senator Holmberg is the eleventh recipient of the award. Past recipients are U.S. Senator John Hoeven, Michael Jones, Senator Byron Dorgan, Thomas Bechtel, Everett Sondreal, Thomas Clifford, Senator Kent Conrad, John McFarlane, Conrad Aas, and Senator Mark Andrews.

Photos from the event are available here: https://www.flickr.com/gp/undeerc/
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EERC Welcomes Gloria Rodriguez

The EERC is pleased to welcome Gloria Rodriguez to the Information Technology (IT) Group. As an IT Systems Administrator, Gloria will be assisting the EERC with all aspects of IT, including hardware and software installation and troubleshooting, server administration, documentation and policy development, and enhancing cybersecurity practices and policies. 

“We live in a digital age where the Internet touches almost all aspects of our daily life. Cybersecurity then, plays an essential role in ensuring the safety of systems that support our daily lives,” said Rodriguez. 

Gloria previously worked at the EERC as a student assistant in the IT Group and for UND’s Information Technology department. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Information Systems and a minor in Geography. She is currently working on her Master’s of Science in Cybersecurity at UND. “By getting my master’s in Cybersecurity, I am intending to apply the knowledge acquired to educate others and to work mitigating the challenges we constantly face,” said Gloria. 

“The culture at the EERC is fun and welcoming; I’m glad to be back,” said Rodriguez. “There are so many good people to learn from here.” 

Originally from MedellĂ­n, Colombia, Gloria moved to the United States in 2001. She has three children, with her oldest also at UND, studying political science and international studies. In her free time, Gloria enjoys cooking, making jewelry, oil painting, and yoga. She is passionate about the inclusion of women in the cybersecurity profession and is a member of the Women in Cybersecurity organization and Grand Forks Linux User Group. She is also an active volunteer in the community, volunteering at The Empire theater and the North Valley Youth Orchestra.

EERC's Tom Erickson Receives UND President's Medal

Energy & Environmental Research Center CEO Tom Erickson on Monday became the 34th person to receive the UND President’s Medal when University President Mark Kennedy made the surprise presentation before employees at the Center. Read the full article at UND Today

EERC Established as the Energy Research Center of North Dakota

North Dakota Senate Bill 2249 was approved by the state House of Representatives over this past legislative session, providing $5 million over the next two years to establish the Energy & Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota (EERC) as the state's energy research center.

The Energy Research Center of North Dakota at the EERC will focus on emerging topics critical to the state’s energy industry and environmental challenges, such as flaring reduction, pipeline safety, efficient lignite use, and increasing oil recovery while decreasing environmental impacts.

“This is an investment in North Dakota’s future,” said Tom Erickson, EERC CEO. “The world is changing quickly, and with those changes come monumental challenges. North Dakota has the opportunity to pioneer energy research that addresses those challenges and keep our state on the forefront of innovation.”

The Energy Research Center of North Dakota will concentrate on precommercial research to complement existing state programs and ensure North Dakota’s energy resources and products remain accessible, affordable, environmentally responsible, and clearly understood through education and outreach.

Questions can be directed to:

Nikki Massmann, EERC Communications Director
nmassmann@undeerc.org, (701) 777-5428 


4th Annual "Energizing North Dakota" Partnership Summit

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) hosted its 4th Annual “Energizing North Dakota” Partnership Summit May 21. This event serves as a forum for partners across energy industry sectors to discuss critical energy topics relating to North Dakota. The morning kicked off with North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness welcoming over 100 attendees, representing public utilities, private industry, government entities, and energy research experts.

The future of energy and the global connection was the overarching theme of discussions throughout the day. Keynote speaker Charles McConnell, Executive Director, Carbon Management and Energy Sustainability at the University of Houston, discussed the low-carbon future and reality of transitioning to that future.

“The market is asking for low-carbon energy, not only the government,” said McConnell. “As companies continue to drive innovation, future barrels of oil will be based not only on costs at the wellhead but also its lifespan, its carbon footprint, and the environmental responsibility of the operating companies.”

North Dakota Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford highlighted both energy’s vital role in the state’s economy and the state’s commitment to environmental stewardship and innovation through EERC-led projects such as iPIPE.

Paul Sukut, CEO of Basin Electric Power Cooperative, outlined the changing capacity portfolio of utility providers and the need for an all-of-the-above approach to meeting electricity demands. Brian Kroshus, Chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, discussed meeting future energy needs and the importance of public perception regarding the energy industry.

A multidisciplinary discussion panel focused on the energy industry in 2030, specifically on society’s speed-of-change expectation versus the reality of balancing that change without putting excessive costs to customers or hindering economic growth. EERC Vice President for Strategic Partnerships John Harju moderated the panel of experts, which included Ron Ness, President of the North Dakota Petroleum Council; Jason Bohrer, President and CEO of the Lignite Energy Council; and Bill Sawyer, General Manager of Operations at ALLETE Clean Energy.

Charles Gorecki, Director of Subsurface Research & Development, outlined progress made toward advancing the goals developed during the 2017 Partnership Summit for North Dakota’s energy future. These goals include increasing the state’s daily oil production, eliminating pipeline leaks, capitalizing on the state’s synergies between agriculture and energy, maximizing the use of North Dakota natural gas and energy export opportunities, enhancing energy reliability and energy infrastructure, expanding the uses of lignite coal such as for enhanced oil recovery and the extraction of rare earth elements, and educating the world on energy and environmental topics. Gorecki also discussed ways to keep North Dakota and the United States a global energy leader through exploratory research on developing technologies, on which the EERC is able to focus some of its future efforts, thanks to the creation of the North Dakota State Energy Research Center in this recent 2019 legislative session.

“We are indebted to all of you in the room today for your support and faith in us,” said Gorecki as he addressed the attendees in the room. “We couldn’t be more humbled by the support given to us by the passing of SB 2249.”

“We have not only the opportunity but also the obligation to the citizens of North Dakota to adapt and prepare for the future,” said EERC CEO Tom Erickson. “Venues like this are important to enable collaboration on those opportunities.”


EERC Welcomes Todger Morrow

Todger Morrow has joined the EERC as a Technology Development Operator, where he will work on the operation, modification, maintenance, repair, and set up of bench-and pilot-scale equipment; and fabrication of new equipment in support of energy research projects for the EERC and their clients.

Prior to his position at the EERC, Todger worked as a machinist at American Crystal Sugar in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, and at Northern Valley Machine Inc. in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Todger has a degree in Machine Tooling/Precision Metal Working from the North Dakota State College of Science and over 8 years of experience as a machinist.

Originally from Wahpeton, North Dakota, he served in the National Guard based in Devils Lake for over 11 years. He is an Armament Maintenance Supervisor/Section Sergeant, with a rank of Staff Sergeant/E-6.

Todger’s wife works in shipping and receiving at American Crystal Sugar in East Grand Forks. They have two dogs. They both love hunting and fishing and look forward to summers spending time at Ottertail Lake by Fergus Falls. Todger’s other hobbies are clay and rifle target shooting, fixing weapons, and watching football. He also owns his own business as a machinist and gunsmith.

EERC Welcomes Alex Chakhmakhchev


Dr. Alexander Chakhmakhchev is welcomed to the EERC as a Principal Scientist where he leads projects and research in the areas of enhanced oil recovery, production optimization, geochemical solutions, and environmental protection.

Alex has over 20 years of geoscience experience in the international petroleum industry, academic expertise in geoscience and applying the results to petroleum exploration efforts, field development, production optimization, and problem solving in various geologic settings.

Prior to his position at the EERC, Alex served as a Senior Data Scientist with Applied Chem Data and was a Principal Geochemist with SGS Oil, Gas, and Chemical Services, in The Woodlands, Texas. He holds a Ph.D. in Petroleum Geochemistry from the All-Russia Research Institute for Geological, Geochemical, and Geophysical Information Systems, Moscow, and a Master’s of Science in Petroleum Geology from Moscow State University. 

Alexander is a Washington Capitals fan. He enjoys cross-country skiing, ice skating, and he loves cars.

EERC Receives Lignite Energy Council Honors

Two Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) staff were honored by The Lignite Energy Council for their dedication and contributions to the lignite industry. Dan Daly and Josh Stanislowski received these honors during the Council’s 46th Annual Meeting on April 24, 2019, in Bismarck, ND.

Josh Stanislowski, Principal Engineer, received the Distinguished Service Award – Research and Development Program for his efforts to study the economic impacts of using carbon dioxide from lignite-based power plants for enhanced oil recovery.

Dan Daly, Geologist, received the Distinguished Service Award – Education for his participation in the annual teachers’ seminar. Daly gave a comprehensive presentation about natural and manmade sources of CO2 and how it can be stored in geological formations.

“Our theme was ‘Blueprint for the Future,’ and certainly leaders who share their time and talents to benefit the entire industry are key to building a better lignite industry that provides reliable, low-cost and increasingly clean electricity,” said Jason Bohrer, president & CEO of the Lignite Energy Council.

The EERC is a global leader in developing solutions to energy and environmental challenges, known for its ability to bring cutting edge science and energy technologies to commercialization.