Kelsey Hatzell

Posted in 40 under 40 2021

Kelsey Hatzell, 34

PhD material science and engineering ’15


Assistant professor, Princeton University

kelsey hatzell

With dual degrees in engineering and economics, Kelsey Hatzell has long been fascinated with energy, sustainability and the way natural resources are priced. It was only natural that the materials scientist would develop a specialty in electrochemical and thermal energy storage systems, which are critical components of renewable energy production. Since sustainable resources like solar or wind power can only generate power intermittently, Hatzell’s work helps bridge the gap by developing efficient and reliable battery storage methods. “Electrifying our transportation system represents an important step for decarbonization,” she says. “My team focuses on how we store this energy for practical applications related to electric vehicles.” Hatzell was recently appointed assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Princeton University in the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. She was previously at Vanderbilt University, where her research group, Inks and Interface, established itself as an industry leader in electrochemical storage during its short four-year history. Since graduating from Drexel six years ago, Hatzell has published more than 30 papers in scientific journals and received nearly a dozen prestigious awards, including the National Science Foundation Career Award, Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award, and Sloan Fellowship. After graduation, she also received the acclaimed ITRI-Rosenfeld Distinguished Post-Doctoral Fellowship to pursue independent research at the Berkeley Lab. A highly-recognized scientific leader, she was elected co-chair of the Gordon Conference on Batteries and serves on a science advisory committee for an energy frontier research center with the Department of Energy. Hatzell is hopeful about the future of decarbonization. “The cost of batteries has dropped by an order of magnitude since I started studying them a decade ago,” she says. “This means that the electrification of transportation is imminent and likely to be driven by batteries, rather than fuel cells.”

My Greatest Accomplishment: Launching an independent research group paving new paths for electric mobility.

How Drexel Helped Me: The tight-knit community and world-class research in Drexel’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering provided me the opportunity to do great research in a supportive and collaborative environment.

What Success Looks Like to Me: Success to me is finding that work-life harmony!

How the Past Year Has Influenced Me: The plague made us slow down, step back, and re-think our everyday life. I hope the pandemic has taught me how to identify work-life balance in the future. Slowing down is a necessity for forward progress.

My Top Post-Pandemic Plan: Travel, right! My group has a few new collaborations in Germany, and we are very eager to spend some time in Europe launching these new directions, hopefully in 2022.