John Kisacikoglu Tapped To Lead IEEE’s Transportation Systems Committee

Jan. 19, 2024 | By Anna Squires | Contact media relations

Portrait of a smiling man in a light-blue button-down shirt and black blazer.

John Kisacikoglu leads NREL’s EV grid integration research team. Photo from John Kisacikoglu, NREL

Mithat John Kisacikoglu, who leads NREL’s electric vehicle (EV) grid integration team, has long had a fascination with efficient electricity delivery—specifically, with its potential to move people and goods in clean, cost-effective ways. 

Now, Kisacikoglu has been tapped to lead the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Transportation Systems Committee (TSC), which focuses on electrification of the entire transportation sector from vehicle traction and energy storage system improvements to sweeping electrical grid infrastructure upgrades.

The committee is responsible for identifying challenges and advancing technologies related to the electrification of transportation systems, which allow people and goods to travel over roads, rail, sea, and air.

That twin focus on both components and systems makes Kisacikoglu a natural fit for the role. His expertise, too, is multidisciplinary, spanning power electronics, transportation electrification, and microgrid and smart grid integration. In other words, he is focused on building better EVs and better charging systems—ones that can help the transportation sector cost-effectively integrate with improved wide-scale grid operations.

Thanks to spending nearly a decade in academia before joining NREL in 2022, Kisacikoglu is bringing a professorial sensibility to his role as TSC chairman. One of his first priorities has been ensuring that all papers submitted to the committee’s journal, IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, undergo rigorous, high-quality technical reviews.

“When I took over the role of publications chair within TSC in 2020, we only required two paper reviews in the first round of the review process. I increased that,” Kisacikoglu said. “Researchers spend anywhere from six months to a year—or even longer—to prepare their manuscript, and they want a fair, technical review with detailed feedback on their publication. These improvements to the technical quality of the review process are critical to pushing the technology forward.”

To provide in-depth feedback, Kisacikoglu has also helped the committee to hire a strong and diverse roster of technical editors representing academia, industry, and national laboratories. All editors are carefully matched to publications based on their subject matter expertise, which covers a wide area within the transportations systems. Now, TSC rigorously reviews more than 100 journal paper submissions a year, with topics spanning technological breakthroughs in components—like electrified vehicle traction systems, new charging topologies, electric motors, and energy storage methods like lithium-ion batteries—to large-scale innovations in public transit systems, charging infrastructure siting, and charging ecosystem cybersecurity.

These changes join a host of improvements Kisacikoglu has sought to make to the committee’s operations over the past six years, during which time he served first as TSC secretary, then vice chairman. Through each service commitment, he has worked to improve conference and journal award processes and increase outreach to committee members’ more than 20 home countries.

For Kisacikoglu, the role is an opportunity to tap into the people power behind the transportation electrification revolution. It is also a way of giving back to the IEEE community. In 2010, as a Ph.D. student, he received a travel award to attend IEEE’s annual conference, the IEEE Energy Conversion Conference and Expo. The conference was a huge success and helped to launch his career.

Now, he is committed to helping IEEE serve as a launching pad for other researchers, just as it did for him.

“Even when I was in undergrad, I was amazed by the knowledge flowing through IEEE,” Kisacikoglu said. “There are so many people pouring information into the organization, and I’ve benefited throughout my career from reading their technical manuscripts, attending conferences, and talking with the area experts.

An older photograph of many researchers standing together in a carpeted conference room.
John Kisacikoglu was once granted a travel award to attend the annual IEEE Energy Conversion Conference and Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. That conference, which helped launch John’s career, also sparked his commitment to giving back to IEEE. Photo from John Kisacikoglu, NREL

“Over the past six years,” he continued, “I’ve seen how many opportunities there are to enable people from different geographies to contribute to this worldwide community. I strongly believe that what we do together within TSC and within IEEE, by advancing knowledge and helping to push technology forward, is helping transportation electrification worldwide.”

Kisacikoglu will serve as chairman of the IEEE Industry Applications Society’s Transportation Systems Committee from January 2024 to December 2025.

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Tags: Transportation,Staff Profile,Awards