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Research Webinar

Learn about the research conducted at Jack's Solar Garden in the last two years

Jack's Solar Garden is the largest commercial research site for agrivoltaics in the US. This webinar is dedicated to the researchers located at Jack's Solar Garden studying the various microclimates created by this single-axis tracking system and learning about how various types of vegetation react to these microclimates

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Meet The Researchers

Jordan Macknick

Jordan Macknick is the Lead Energy-Water-Land Analyst for the Nation Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and a Distinguished Member of the NREL Research Staff. His primary work addresses the environmental impacts of energy technologies, while seeking opportunities for energy, economic, and ecological synergies. In his leadership capacity, Macknick analyzes national and regional implications of different energy pathways in the


context of water and land  resources, evaluates opportunities to improve the energy management of water infrastructure, and explores innovative approaches to co-locating solar and agricultural activities. He is the Topic Area Lead of Data, Modeling, and Analysis for the National Alliance for Water Innovation Energy-Water Desalination Hub, a $110M research effort to address water challenges across sectors. He is the Principal Investigator of the InSPIRE (Innovative Solar Practices Integrated with Rural Economies and Ecosystems) project, which is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive Agrivoltaics research project, with more than 25 Agrivoltaic field sites located across the country.

Christopher Toy

Christopher is a PhD candidate in the Agroecology Lab at Colorado State University (CSU). He is advised by Dr. Meagan Schipanski. He received his BS in Evolution and Ecology from The Ohio State University in 2018 and contributed to plant community ecology research in Dr. Maria Miriti's lab during that time. He currently manages an experiment he designed at Jack's Solar Garden as a portion of his dissertation research. This


experiment aims to assess the effectiveness of various vegetatation management practices at supplying ecosystem services post-solar energy installation. He joined the CALC team in April 2022 and hopes to facilitate easier access to high quality information concerning agrivoltaics.

Alyssa Salazar

Alyssa is a recent graduate from the University of Arizona working with Barron-Gafford and theUA Agrivoltaics research team. Alyssa studies phenology - the timing of importatnt biological events, like when plants germinate, flower, fruit, and dieback at the end of the growing season.  Alyssa leads this phenology research at Biosphere 2 and facilitates phenology data collection at Jack's Solar Garden remotely. Her research aims to better understand crop plant life


cycles in agrivoltaic systems. Professionally, her goal is to develop an adaptable framework in tracking crop plant phenology internationally to help others understand their crops growing in agrivoltaic systems and to empower those doing the work to bridge the gap between science and farming. 

Byron Kominek

Byron is an experienced natural resource management specialist having worked in international development for over a decade. He has lived in various parts of Africa for over 6 years serving in the Peace Corps, with Doctors Without Borders, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Byron is the founder and co-owner of Jack's Solar Garden. He manages the solar operation and helped found and currently directs the associated


educational nonprofit, the Colorado Agrivoltaic Learning Center (that is putting on this webinar). He has a M.Sc. in Environmental Engineering and speaks French and Portuguese.

Greg Barron-Gafford

Greg is an Associate Professor and the Associate Director of the Community and School Garden Program at the University of Arizona (UA). Greg and his students study how plants and ecosystems respond to threats from drought, climate change, and human pressures like over grazing or clearing for renewable energy production. For the last past decade, Greg's team have directed this science to build the field of 'agrivoltaics' in the USA.


Greg began in southern Arizona, studying the benefits across the food-energy-water nexus, and over the years his team have developed a national and international program connecting with researchers in Colorado and Oregon and in Africa and the Middle East. Helping develop science-based solutions to help people adapt to the increasing pressures that come from a changing climate is a personal and professional goal of Greg's.

Matthew Sturchio


Matt is a PhD student in the Plant and Ecosystem Ecology lab at Colorado State University (CSU). At Jack’s Solar Garden, he studies how plants respond to the redistribution of environmental resources (sunlight, water, nutrients) within the solar array. An overarching goal of his research is to better understand how the expansion of solar energy infrastructure might impact the ecosystem health and function of grasslands in Colorado.



Nesrine Rouini

Nesrine is a research specialist and PhD student at the University of Arizona (UA). She works with Greg Barron-Gafford and leads research coordination for the UA Agrivoltaics team. At Biosphere2 and Jack’s Solar Garden, she facilitates the deployment and maintenance of microclimate sensor networks and organizes crop physiology field campaigns. Nesrine’s enthusiasm about studying agrivoltaic systems stems from her concerns about the

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climate crisis and food security. Her background in biology and plant ecology informs her research directions. She focuses on uncovering the eco-physiological mechanisms influencing crop responses to shade and water stress in novel agrivoltaic conditions.

Webinar Schedule

  • 10:00am - Byron Kominek to introduce the event and Jack's Solar Garden

  • 10:20am - Jordan Macknick, NREL - An overview of how Jack's Solar Garden fits into the growing agrivoltaics field in the USA and the importance of this research

  • 10:35am - Christopher Toy, CSU - Ecosystem services of grasslands and wildflowers at Jack's

  • 10:55am - Matthew Sturchio, CSU - Grassland ecology at Jack's

  • 11:15am - Panel Discussion with Chris & Matt w/ Q&A from audience

  • 11:35am - Greg Barron-Gafford, UA - Vegetable growth and at Jack's

  • 11:55am - Nesrine Rouini and Alyssa Salazar, UA - Research protocols for studying agrivoltaics at Jack's

  • 12:25pm - Panel Discussion with Greg, Nesrine, and Alyssa w/ Q&A from the audience

  • 12:45pm - Overall Panel Discussion - Lightning Round - Researchers will ask each other challenging question.

  • 1:00pm - End

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