Photo of Dr. Berry

Mark Berry

A utility company perspective on fusion

Mark Berry

Southern Company

Friday, October 14, 2022


NW17-218 Hybrid

PSFC Seminars

Abstract: Fusion and other first-of-a-kind technologies needed to achieve a net-zero future require aggressive research, development and demonstration to enable full commercialization - for both the energy industry and the wider economy. Dr. Mark Berry, senior vice president of Research and Development for Southern Company, a leading U.S. energy company, will explore a wide spectrum of considerations along this kind of commercialization - from engineering, supply chain, workforce development, risk, construction, regulatory engagement and approval, and community involvement, as well as the need for public-private investment and collaboration. Dr. Berry will share insights from Southern Company's experience with a variety of technologies, including the first new nuclear units built in the U.S. in 30 years at Georgia Power's Plant Vogtle and the development of next-generation nuclear technologies.

Bio: Dr. Mark S. Berry, P.E., is currently senior vice president of research and development (R&D) for Southern Company Services. In this role, he leads all activities of Southern Company’s industry-leading R&D organization and guides the company’s strategic advancement of technologies that provide clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy for customers in a net-zero future. This includes developing low- and no-carbon technologies, including advanced nuclear and the hydrogen economy; advancing energy storage, renewable, distributed generation and transportation solutions; modernizing the grid; and promoting negative-emission and sustainability innovations.

Named to the position in June 2022, Berry previously served as vice president of Southern Company Services R&D, as well as vice president of environmental and natural resources for Georgia Power, the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, where he oversaw Georgia Power-owned natural resources and managed environmental compliance and stewardship programs to meet or surpass all environmental laws and regulations.

Over his career, Berry has held numerous positions of increasing responsibility, including director of Southern Company research and technology management, managing a portfolio of research related to emission controls, energy efficiency, renewables, power delivery, central station generation and carbon capture, utilization and storage. He served as director in the generation sector at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), where he managed research and development efforts in renewables, water management, carbon capture and storage, and advanced fossil generation; and director of energy and environment at Southern Research. He was also manager of environmental assessment for Southern Company’s research and environmental affairs organization, where he managed the company’s regulatory response to federal rule-making activity and the environmental science research program.

Prior to joining Southern Company, Berry attained the commissioned rank of lieutenant commander in the United States Navy as a surface warfare officer. While on active duty, he served upon the USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44) in the capacities of deck officer and combat information center officer. After joining the reserves, he served as an engineering officer supporting the USS Sentry (MCM-3) and as an intelligence officer supporting the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA HQ).

Berry holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Alabama A&M University, and a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering and Ph.D. in interdisciplinary engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He also earned a master’s degree in public and private management from Birmingham-Southern College and is a registered professional engineer. He is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta. Berry is currently pursuing a chief technology officer certificate from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Berry is vice chair of the Research Advisory Council at EPRI. He is an advisory board member of the Strategic Energy Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the School of Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Berry is a board member of Wellstar Health System and serves on the boards of the Georgia Conservancy and the National Wildlife Federation. Berry is a member of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, where he leads the mentoring efforts for the organization. Berry also teaches thermodynamics as an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and is a program evaluator for the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. 

Berry is an active, lifetime member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. He has established two scholarships for minority students pursuing a degree in engineering in the name of his grandfathers – an endowed scholarship in the name of Marion Luscious Nell at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the Simpson Berry Sr. Endowed Scholarship at Alabama A&M University.