When Annette von Jouanne’s German-immigrant parents involved her in swimming as a child, it is unlikely they could foresee the force it would become in her life.
“We are a family of swimmers,” she says of her two brothers and sister who all swam competitively. Living in Seattle, von Jouanne also grew up loving the ocean.
“I have a tremendous respect for the amount of energy in those heaving ocean swells,” von Jouanne says. It was perhaps natural, then, that her interest in the ocean eventually combined with her other passion—renewable energy.
Arriving at Oregon State University in 1995 with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M, von Jouanne took a hard look at what renewable energy made sense for Oregon. “I saw a tremendous untapped opportunity with wave energy,” she says, noting the excellent wave potentials off the Oregon coast and citing the wealth of wave and energy lab resources at OSU.
Among these resources is the Wallace Energy Systems & Renewables Facility, the highest power university-based energy systems lab in the nation, which von Jouanne co-directs. The facility is capable of regenerating energy to the grid, and houses a novel wave energy linear test bed to optimize wave energy technologies.
Professor von Jouanne initiated the interdisciplinary wave energy program at OSU in 1998, which has developed into a prominent program for the nation. However, she is equally interested in other renewable energy sources, such as wind.“Not only has Annette been instrumental in starting the marine energy center – of which there are only two in the country – but she has also won national and university teaching awards, and is an IEEE Fellow. She does it all,” says Terri Fiez, head of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
University research for both wave and wind are critical, von Jouanne says. “It’s about educating students with a keen understanding of renewable energy technologies, so that they can springboard into careers to help make a positive impact on our energy future.”
She still swims every day in her dual swim flume, along with her husband (a three-time Olympic swimmer) and her three children, who she says began swimming “as soon as their umbilical cords came off.”
—By Rachel Robertson