Johanna Mathieu awarded 2023 IEEE PES Wanda Reder Pioneer in Power Award
The IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) has chosen Prof. Johanna Mathieu to receive the 2023 Wanda Reder Pioneer in Power Award. This award honors the efforts, accomplishments, and future potential of a woman in the field of power engineering. Mathieu is a national leader on research to improve the efficiency and reliability of the power grid while integrating renewable energy and reducing economic costs.
“My research has advanced the technologies needed to decarbonize the electric power grid,” Mathieu said. “I hope more of my work can be transitioned from academia to practice, and make real-world impact. I also hope to do this in a way that fosters energy equity and justice.”
My research has advanced the technologies needed to decarbonize the electric power grid.
Prof. Johanna Mathieu
Mathieu develops theories, algorithms, and tools that coordinate distributed energy resources — including flexible loads like air conditioners and water heaters, energy storage devices like batteries, and renewables like residential photovoltaics — to provide balancing services to the grid. She has also made significant contributions in a number of other power systems domains, including commercial building demand response, energy storage scheduling and control, optimal power flow under uncertainty, and coordination of power and water distribution networks.
Mathieu has long been passionate about applying her engineering expertise to help society. Before graduate school, she served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, where she taught high school physics and math. During her masters, she advanced the development of a method to remove arsenic from drinking water in Bangladesh. Recently, her research has been focused on energy justice, which seeks to ensure equitable access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy.
For a current NSF Smart and Connected Communities project, she is developing data-driven algorithms to help low to moderate income homes in Detroit connect with energy assistance, efficiency, and electricity rate programs that could help them save money, as well as improve the comfort of their home. She is also studying electricity consumption patterns in an effort to design new electricity rates that reduce energy burdens and the risk of shut-offs for low-income families. She is working with a highly-interdisciplinary group, including academics in in social science research, public administration, and public health, and practitioners in Detroit-based community organizations.
“Projects like this show her dedication to working on important problems and developing solutions that have the potential for immediate positive impact of people’s day to day lives,” said Ian Hiskens, the Vennema Professor of Engineering, a longtime colleague of Mathieu.
Projects like this show her dedication to working on important problems and developing solutions that have the potential for immediate positive impact of people’s day to day lives.
Ian Hiskens, Vennema Professor of Engineering
Mathieu is an active mentor for others in the power and energy field. She’s advised fourteen PhD students, six postdocs, fifteen master’s student researchers, and twenty-one undergraduate student researchers. Many of her students come from identities and backgrounds that have been underrepresented in power engineering.
In addition to advising students, Mathieu has developed two graduate level courses at U-M, one on electric power distribution systems and one on power systems markets and optimization. She teaches undergraduate courses on power systems, alternative energy, and feedback control systems. Her courses attract students across engineering and also often from other units on campus such as the School for Environment and Sustainability. To bring power and energy engineering to an even wider audience, she co-developed “Grid 101,” a short course for U-M researchers as well as local industry practitioners.
Mathieu’s research has been supported by $9 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, ARPA-E, The Sloan Foundation, and the University of Michigan. She is the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award and the U-M Henry Russel Award, which is U-M’s highest honor for faculty at the early to mid-career stages of their career. She currently serves the Associate Director of U-M’s Institute for Energy Solutions, and she is Chair of the IEEE PES Technical Committee on Smart Buildings, Loads, and Customer Systems.