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Team Bios

To see the stoves that these teams designed, click here.

Ryan Fisher (MF Fire, Maryland) – Ryan Fisher graduated from the University of Maryland with Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Fire Protection engineering. Ryan is a co-founder of MF Fire and is currently based out of North Carolina. Ryan grew up using wood as a secondary form of heat in his home and has been an enthusiast ever since. MF Fire is working to transform sophisticated combustion techniques into real world advances.

Taylor Myers (MF Fire, Maryland) - Taylor Myers is a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland and the Co-Founder of MF Fire. Taylor leveraged his background studying fire science to develop the Mulciber Stove, displayed at the first Wood Stove Decathlon and winner of the low particulate emissions prize. MF Fire is working to transform sophisticated combustion techniques into real world advances.

Jeff Hallowell (ClearStak, Conn.) - Mr. Hallowell has over 25 years of experience in the computer technology industry. He began his career at Xerox Corporation and has been as executive with Oracle Corporation, Netscape, and United HealthCare. A the President of ClearStak, Mr. Hallowell has been working with hydronic heaters, wood boilers, pellet burners, and now wood stoves. Responsible for conceptualizing the wood stove pollution control device, Mr. Hallowell recently entered the wood stove field. While ClearStak does not produce wood stoves or any other type of biomass burning equipment, Jeff’s experience in the computer technology industry has provided his company with the opportunity to become market leaders in providing pollution control devices for biomass burners. His idea of the wood stove pollution control device will continue ClearStak’s commitment to improve solid biomass combustion efficiency and to reduce visible emissions. Mr. Hallowell acknowledges the wood stove industry is in need of a pollution control device and is determined to provide a retrofit device manufacturers can utilize to ensure the continued success of their industry.

Corey Vann (ClearStak, Conn.) - Mr. Vann comes from a background in the air quality and emission regulations field. Since his prior experience with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, he has been motivated to improve air quality and emissions from multiple sources. While with DEEP, he was directly involved in the development of Connecticut’s 2013 State Implementation Plan for meeting national air quality standards. Other work included analysis and reporting of atmospheric and criteria pollutant data to the EPA as well as maintenance of the Air Bureau’s database of daily air quality measurements from remote sites around the state. Now working with ClearStak, that attention has become focused on wood stoves and biomass-fired appliances. Corey sees an incredible opportunity in the improvement of combustion efficiency for wood stoves. He has only recently become involved in the development of ClearStak’s wood stove pollution control device but is eager to apply the results to the ongoing air quality improvement and emissions reduction efforts put forth by the company.


Dean Still (Aprovecho, Oregon) - In 1989, after graduate school, sailing to the South Pacific and living on an isolated ranch in Mexico, Dean joined Aprovecho, a field-based educational program for sustainable living in Oregon. During his 14 years there, Dean led the effort to build the campus, and created a college-level training center. In 1997, he began focusing on the design and manufacturing of clean cookstoves, eventually establishing the stove oriented Aprovecho Research Center in 2004. During his years in the cookstove community, Dean has worked with Dr. Larry Winiarski, inventor of the rocket stove, to design numerous improved stoves. He has assisted more than one hundred international stove development and manufacturing projects throughout the world. He oversees the biomass cookstove research laboratory, emission equipment manufacturing, and manages ARC’s relationship with Shengzhou Stove Manufacturer (which sells rocket stoves worldwide through EcoZoom and StoveTec). Dean is author, or co-author, of six books and dozens of technical reports and articles on clean cookstoves.

Jessica Peterson (ClearStak, Conn.) - Ms. Peterson, Control Technology Product Manager, has a B.S. in Molecular Biology from Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania. As a strong research contributor for ClearStak, she began her career at a Breast Care Center in Springfield, Massachusetts where she was involved in lymphedema and breast cancer surgical treatment and testing. Now in her managerial role at ClearStak, Jessica has worked on countless projects to improve thermal efficiency and reduce harmful emissions for individual customers as well as manufacturers looking for retrofit solutions. Responsibilities have included full-scale testing using Method 28 for outdoor wood hydronic heaters and Canada’s B-415 method. She has also been a liaison between the EPA certified and DOE testing laboratories. Jessica is a member of the Technical Regulatory Affairs Committee with BTEC through which she has been involved with drafting and advising test methods and regulations, and choosing subcommittees. She is also a member of the Technical Specialists Group of the Ontario Ministry of Environment's Wood Heat <3MW ECA Guidance Development Working Group.

Niels Wittus (Wittus, New York) - Niels Wittus, president of Wittus – Fire by Design, wasborn and raised in Denmark andmoved to New York in 1974. In 1978,he founded Rais& Wittusin order to bring beautifully wrought European hearth products with award-winning styling, superior craftsmanship, high efficiency heating, and state-of-the-art burning technology to the American marketplace.

As interest incontemporary fireplaces has grown, Niels with his wife, Alyce have worked diligently to build the company that epitomizes the trend-setting design offerings in wood, pellet, and gasburning stoves and fireplaces, in addition to cookstoves, grills, and other outdoor products.

Wittus - Fire by Design participated in the Wood Stove Design Challenge last year and was proud to win 2nd place at the Decathlon in Washington DC with the unique and most efficient Twinfire series.

Ingo Hartmann (Wittus/EmTechEnginerring, Germany) - Dr. rer. nat. Ingo Hartmann (Doctor of things of nature) studied Energy Engineering at HTWK and wrote his doctoral thesis on “Microwave-assisted catalytic oxidation“. Since 2008 he has been the research group leader in theDepartment of Thermo-chemical conversion at DBFZ in Leipzig.

In 2014, Dr. Ingo Hartmann founded ETE EmTechEngineering GmbH, with Frank Werner and René Bindig, which was developed to help manufacturers solve the issues and problems in producing more efficient and cleaner burning stoves. ETE offers corresponding consultation and engineering services as well as tailored catalysts to improve existing and new products.

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