Dr. Katherine Ayers is Vice President of R&D for Nel Hydrogen US, focused on onsite hydrogen generation via water electrolysis. Her technical expertise spans multiple electrochemical devices including batteries, fuel cells/electrolyzers, and solar cells. Dr. Ayers previously spent several years at Energizer Battery Company, with responsibility for strategic materials direction, diagnosis of polarization losses and low battery service, and fundamental insight on other production issues. She has been with Nel since 2007 and leads the R&D group, with responsibility for developing and executing Nel’s technology strategy. She manages a broad portfolio of internally and externally funded research projects, across a range of collaborators in academia, industry, and National Labs. Her team is also responsible for supporting the electrolyzer cell stack product, launching new designs and supporting existing designs.
Dr. Ayers’ expertise has been widely recognized in the advisory roles she has been asked to fill. She served on the Scientific Advisory board for several years for the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), established in 2010 as an Energy Innovation Hub funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. She has also served on the scientific advisory boards for multiple Energy Frontier Research Centers and similar consortia, including the Center for Molecular Electrochemistry and the Chemical Transformations Initiative at PNNL. She has participated in several expert panels including a National Academy of Sciences roundtable on utilization of carbon waste streams, and served on two Federal level advisory committees for DOE: HTAC (Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Technical Advisory Committee, 2015-19) for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and BESAC (Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, 2019-present) for the Office of Science. Dr. Ayers received the 2012 R&D Award from the DOE Hydrogen Production Team, for Outstanding Contributions to Hydrogen Production by PEM Electrolysis, and an American Chemical Society Women Chemists Committee 2014 Rising Stars Award. She also received a Fuel Cell Seminar Program Award in 2015.
Dr. Ayers received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry/Chemical physics at UC San Diego. As an undergraduate, she was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater scholarship, and received the Urey Award as the top chemistry graduate in her class. She attended Caltech on an NSF Graduate Fellowship and earned her Ph.D. in chemistry under the direction of Professor Nathan Lewis.