South Pasadena Resident Named Fulbright Distinguished Chair

A South Pasadena resident, David Blekhman will teach and conduct research in Sweden this fall

PHOTO: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA | News | Professor David Blekhman, center, gives students tour of the university’s Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility

Cal State LA Professor David Blekhman has been selected as a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Alternative Energy Technology, one of the most prestigious appointments in the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Blekhman, a South Pasadena resident, is one of more than 800 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research, and/or provide expertise abroad for the 2019-20 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected based on academic and professional achievement, as well as their record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.

Blekhman is the first professor in the California State University system to be named a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Alternative Energy Technology, according to data provided by the Fulbright Program.

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The prestigious honor recognizes not only the individual faculty accomplishments but also Cal State LA’s leadership in advancing alternative and renewable technologies.

Blekhman is an expert in alternative and renewable energy, clean fuels, advanced transportation, thermal and fluid systems, and combustion. He is a cofounder and technical director of the university’s Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility.

The facility was the first in the world to sell hydrogen fuel by the kilogram directly to consumers for electric vehicles. Using renewable energy resources, the facility provides fuel that only emits water vapor.

As a Fulbright Distinguished Chair, Blekhman will teach specialized courses in alternative energy technology at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, starting in the fall of 2019 and continuing into spring of 2020. He will also collaborate with the Chalmers faculty on research related to alternative energy technology.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | News | South Pasadena Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian, center, presented a certificate of recognition to Laura Reilly, left, and Dr. Suyapa Portillo Villeda for being Fulbright Program Awardees earlier in 2019

“While California has led the world in introducing the hydrogen fueling infrastructure, other countries and regions are rigorously developing their own,” Blekhman said. “I plan to evaluate the growth and performance of the Scandinavian Hydrogen Highway—a series of hydrogen stations across the region, especially in northern climate deployment.”

He will share lessons learned in operations, maintenance and efficiency with the Swedish researchers.

At Cal State LA, Blekhman is also director of the Sustainable Energy and Transportation Program. He served as the lead faculty adviser for the Cal State LA EcoCAR student team. Cal State LA was the only university from California among 16 teams in the U.S. and Canada that for seven years participated in the EcoCAR: Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition. The competition trained the next generation of advanced vehicle engineers to design and build zero-emission vehicles.

Blekhman has been a principal investigator, co-principal investigator and senior personnel on grants from the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Argonne Labs, California Air Resources Board, and the California Energy Commission.

He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in thermal physics and engineering from Saint Petersburg State Polytechnical University in Russia and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

In 2011, Blekhman was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to teach and conduct fuel cell and hydrogen research in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The program has awarded more than 390,000 grants to students, teachers, scholars and professionals since its inception.