Interview with Alan Bigelow, PhD, Columbia University

Posted 4 March 2015 by Urs Riggenbach.

Alan Bigelow is a physicist that develops optical and ion-beam technologies at Columbia University. Passionate about solar energy and what it can do to solve our problems, Alan shares his views on solar concentration in this interview.

In 2007 Alan co-founded the solar-powered, eco-rock band Solar Punch, whose mission is to educate and raise awareness about environmental issues and solutions. Alan and the group find that performing original songs about solar science is an effective way to engage the public and encourage people to apply their individual skills toward solving environmental problems.

As the physicist in Solar Punch, Alan has developed and incorporated an array of solar-science demonstrations for hands-on opportunities for the public to experience and learn concepts in renewable energy and sustainable living. To further the outreach potential with Solar Punch, Alan has developed interactive workshops and presentations with his role in Solar Punch.

Alan has also worked with his Solar Punch bandmates to design and develop a series of off-grid, solar-power generators that they use to power their performances. In a particular example, Alan designed and built what he considers the world’s lightest and cheapest flexible solar panel, which was subsequently used for solar-powered filmmaking during their group’s participation in the first solar trek in Nepal. Along with Solar Punch, Alan is a named recipient of the Shirin Gadhia Sustainability Award.

Alan’s experience with concentrated solar power (CSP) originated through Solar Punch tours in India, Nepal, and Haiti. Alan is a member of the New York Solar Energy Society (NYSES). In outreach activities, Alan has given invited talks on solar science at Columbia University, at New York City’s EcoFest, at the NYSES Solar Salon, and at the Solar Cookers International convention.

Currently Alan works as a physicist on laser and particle-accelerator projects at the Radiological Research Accelerator Facility (RARAF), in New York. In his current role, Alan specializes in developing optical and ion-beam technologies for research scientists that visit RARAF to conduct radiation-biology experiments. He has published numerous academic articles and he is listed as a co-inventor on several patents involving differential sterilization approaches using UV light.


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