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The ECS Lecture


America’s Energy Future: Science, Engineering, and Policy Challenges

by Professor Mark S. Wrighton

Monday, October 28, 2013 | San Francisco, California

Mark S. WrightonIn 2007 the National Research Council convened a committee to study America’s Energy Future, and the report from the committee became public in the spring of 2009. This presentation will include a summary of important events and issues that have arisen since the report was issued, including expansion of the use of natural gas in the United States, the devastating impact from the tsunami in Japan at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s plant in Fukushima, international tensions surrounding the photovoltaic industry, and a rise in CO2 concentration in the global atmosphere above the 400 ppm level in 2013. Efforts are being made to assure that America’s future energy needs are met at an affordable cost while minimizing adverse effects on the environment. However, to achieve this goal, many challenges must be overcome in a number of critical areas, many of which must be addressed by the science and engineering community. Other challenges require leadership on local, state, national and international policy. The challenges and opportunities to meet America’s future energy needs will be summarized.

Mark S. Wrighton, Ph.D., was named the 14th Chancellor of Washington University in 1995, and serves as its chief executive officer. Born in Jacksonville, Florida. Wrighton received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Florida State University. He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and, based on his research accomplishments, he was named the first recipient of the Herbert Newby McCoy Award.

Wrighton started his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was named the Frederick G. Keyes Professor of Chemistry, served as head of the Chemistry Department, and was named the first holder of the Ciba-Geigy Professorship. From 1990 until 1995, Wrighton served as provost and chief academic officer.

Chancellor Wrighton has received many awards for his research and scholarly writing, including the distinguished MacArthur Prize. He is the author of over 300 articles in scholarly journals, is the holder of 14 patents, and co-author of a book, Organometallic Photochemistry. His research interests are in the areas of transition metal catalysis, photochemistry, surface chemistry, molecular electronics, and in photoprocesses at electrodes.

Actively engaged in public and professional affairs, Chancellor Wrighton has served on numerous governmental panels and has been a consultant to industry. He served as Vice Chair of the NRC Committee on America’s Energy Future, 2007-2009. He was a presidential appointee to the National Science Board (2000-06), and a past chair of the Association of American Universities and the Business-Higher Education Forum. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is a member of the American Philosophical Society. He serves as a director on the boards of Corning, Inc., Brooks Automation and the Cabot Corporation and on the boards of numerous St. Louis organizations. In 2007, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch named him “Citizen of the Year.” He received the “2010 Right Arm of St. Louis Award” from the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association for outstanding contributions to the St. Louis region.

Under Chancellor Wrighton’s leadership, Washington University in St. Louis has made significant progress in student quality, campus improvements, resource development, curriculum, and international reputation.

Third international ECS Electrochemical Energy Summit (E2S)

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