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PRAIRIE PEOPLE: Week ending June 14

EERC director Erickson to lead new state energy research center

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Nearly five years after being appointed to head the Energy & Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota, CEO Tom Erickson is transitioning to a new opportunity: leader of the new State Energy Research Center of North Dakota.

In April, the North Dakota Legislature passed a bill creating and funding SERC, which will operate from the EERC. The new center will get $5 million a year to conduct research that advances future energy opportunities to benefit North Dakota’s economy and environment. Under the legislation, 1 percent of oil and gas production and oil extraction tax revenues are allocated to fund SERC.

Erickson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UND in chemical engineering. He began working at the EERC – then known as the UND Energy and Mineral Research Center – as a student in 1986 before being hired as a full-time research specialist in 1988.  

During Erickson’s tenure at the EERC and under his leadership, the Center has developed and participated in numerous projects and collaborations to address energy and environmental challenges. For example, it formed the Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and includes five states, two Canadian provinces and several industry partners.

Over a 16-year period, the EERC has become a leader in carbon capture, use and storage technologies aimed at countering climate change.


Jones named founding director of Ness School at SDSU

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Eluned Jones has been named the founding director of South Dakota State University’s Ness School of Management and Economics.

The Ness School has more than 700 undergraduates majoring in business economics, entrepreneurial studies and economics.

Jones came to SDSU in 2012 after working at Texas A&M University and at Virginia Tech. She holds a bachlor’s degree from the University of Bath, United Kingdom, a master’s degree from North Carolina State University and a doctorate in agricultural economics from Texas A&M.

As a professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M from 2002-12, Jones served as chair of the Intercollegiate Faculty of Agribusiness and directed the master of agribusiness program. She was a faculty member at Virginia Tech from 1988-02 with responsibilities in extension, research and teaching.

Jones is a fellow of the Kellogg-funded Leadership Development Program at the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy.


KLJ hires two in St. Paul

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Engineering firm KLJ has hired Cristian Encalada and Jessica LoBello in the company’s St. Paul office.

Encalada joins KLJ as an OSP designer. He earned a master’s in telecommunication systems from the University of Buenos Aires – Argentina.

LoBello comes to KLJ as a structural engineer. She earned her master’s degree in structural engineering from Milwaukee School of Engineering and is a registered professional engineer in Minnesota.


Alerus hires Sather as senior financial advisor

FARGO, N.D. – Alerus has hired Sean Sather as a senior financial advisor in Alerus’ Fargo office.

Sather has more than 11 years of financial industry experience. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Minnesota State University Moorhead and is a certified financial planner.


Strickler to lead Flint Group Minnesota offices 

FARGO, N.D. – Flint Group has promoted Jen Strickler to senior vice president of brand experience. 

She will lead Flint Group’s Duluth and Twin Cities offices. 

Strickler has more than 20 years of marketing experience and recently led Flint Group’s creative, user experience and technology teams.