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Dr. Michael L. Jones, Vice President of Research and Development (R&D) for the North Dakota Lignite Energy Council, has been awarded the 2016 EERC Energy Champion Award.

The award was presented in May 2016 during the Energizing North Dakota’s Future: Realizing the Vision luncheon held at the EERC.

“Dr. Jones’s career, contributions, and leadership in the energy industry span more than 35 years and have had a significant impact on the nation, North Dakota, the lignite industry, and the EERC,” EERC CEO Tom Erickson said. “We are proud to honor Dr. Jones for his extraordinary commitment to the energy industry, his tremendous leadership, and his invaluable partnership.”

Dr. Jones began his career in the energy industry in 1979 when he joined the EERC’s predecessor organization, the U.S. Department of Energy Grand Forks Energy Technology Center, where he directed R&D projects related to combustion technology for low-rank coals. Following its defederalization in 1983, he continued with the University of North Dakota (UND) Energy Research Center, Energy & Mineral Research Center and, ultimately, the EERC, where he later became the Associate Director of Industrial Relations and Technology Commercialization.

In 2009, Dr. Jones was appointed by the North Dakota Industrial Commission as Research, Development, and Marketing Director for the Lignite Energy Council and technical representative to the Commission. In 2014, he was appointed to the National Coal Council, which is the Federal Advisory Committee to the U.S. Secretary of Energy on topics related to federal policies, plans, and priorities affecting the production, marketing, and use of coal.

Dr. Jones is a graduate of Bemidji (MN) State University, and he earned a master's degree and a doctorate in physics from UND. He has authored or coauthored over 80 publications.

The EERC Energy Champion Award was created to honor individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership, vision, and personal commitment to energy and environmental research, development, and demonstration programs across the nation. Past Energy Champion Award recipients include U.S. Senator Mark Andrews in 1986, Conrad Aas in 1987, John MacFarlane in 1990, U.S. Senator Kent Conrad in 1992, Thomas Clifford in 1993, Everett Sondreal in 1995, Thomas Bechtel in 1996, and U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan in 2004.

Erickson concluded, “Dr. Jones’s steadfast dedication to the EERC was integral to our success and transition from a federal facility to one of the nation’s premier energy research facilities. His part in developing early industry–government consortia provided a road map for decades of success at the EERC, an approach that became a foundation for programs that help to tackle many of today’s most vexing energy issues.”