Alexandra von Meier - "Green" Goddess

sascha_portrait.jpgAlexandra "Sascha" von Meier, professor of environmental studies and planning at SSU, is on her way to being part of the solution.

Now in the midst of transitioning to a full-time research coordinator at the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE), she expects, in 2012, to succeed the retiring Director of Electric Grid Research there.

She also anticipates an appointment as Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering at UC Berkeley, with a flexible part-time teaching load.

"My teaching and research is broadly concerned with systems that convert and deliver energy, from buildings to power plants and the electric grid," says the professor who is leaving her SSU faculty position to take the new post at the end of the year.

"In the big picture, I hope to contribute to the understanding and implementation of sensible strategies for converting our national energy supply system to the zero-carbon economy it ultimately needs to be."

This focus makes von Meier an asset to the CIEE, a organization that in turn plays an important role in helping the state of California to meet it's far-reaching, fast-tracked goals for energy efficiency and stemming climate change.

The CIEE, which is a branch of the University of California Energy Institute, draws on world-class researchers to do public-energy research, with emphasis on secure, sustainable energy systems, improved air and water quality and reduced greenhouse emissions.

At SSU, Meier has taught a number of energy and technology courses, including "Energy, Technology and Society," "Passive Solar Design" and "Small-Scale Design."

"One of the most fascinating problems to me, and a thematic thread in my research, is how humans conceptualize complex technical systems-- that is, how we form a picture of them in our minds in order to understand them-- and consequently judge good designs, technical modifications or policies," she says.

"I've brought this approach to studies of photovoltaics in the electric grid, theautomation of electric power distribution, the operation of nuclear power plants and the management of plutonium."

Additionally, von Meier has been active in the push to understand and analyze the importance and performance of green buildings, and the implementation of solar energy in the public sector, and particularly, on university campuses.

Von Meier holds a Ph.D. (1995) and M.A. (1990) Energy and Resources, University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. (1986) Physics, University of California, Berkeley. Away from the office, she enjoys meditation, yoga, cycling, the mountains, and especially rock climbing.

For more information on the CIEE, visit

A reception in Professor von Meier's honor will be held on Friday, Dec. 9 from 3-5 p.m. at Northlight Books in Cotati.

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