Distinguished Lectures


Daniel Schwartz

Daniel Schwartz

Director, Clean Energy Institute Boeing-Sutter

Professor, Chemical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle

Thursday, June 16, 2022 | 4:00-5:00pm | 255 OLIN

Can we do it now? Transforming the university model to address the climate crisis.

Academic medical centers and land grant universities were 19th century creations that transformed public health and agricultural productivity through holistic integrations of fundamental and clinical/applied research, professional training, and direct delivery of services to the public. By inventing new faculty categories (clinical, extension), expanding the roles trainees played in the community, and creating facilities to support new scholarly modes, universities became central actors in the transition to an industrialized nation. As a state, Washington has been the nation's top renewable energy producer for nearly a century, through hydropower, but is also a global cautionary tale for inequitable clean energy through the flooding of indigenous lands and damage to traditional food and cultural systems, with few benefits to the impacted tribes. This talk describes some of the ways the University of Washington Clean Energy Institute (CEI) shares Cornell's aspirations for "radical collaboration" through our focus on accelerating the adoption of a scalable and equitable clean energy future. The speaker describes his work with Columbia River Basin and Salish Sea tribes on community-engaged clean energy research, and more recent focus on electrochemical research to fill gaps in the information ecosystem needed to optimally use and reuse batteries in our electrifying economy. Through a description of the CEI and scholarly examples, this talk seeks to start a conversation on shaping "Academic Climate Centers" as central actors in the energy transition, serving all people in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Dr. Doug Wicks

Doug Wicks

ARPA-E Program Director

TUES, June 14th, 2022 | 2:00-3:00pm | 366 Hollister Hall

"Curiouser and curiouser", the Unexplored Potential to Stimulate a Limitless Supply of Geologic Hydrogen

The presentation will address the geologic sources of geologic hydrogen with an emphasis on the potential of this resource to be virtually an unlimited energy source for the energy transition. This represents a call to action to find and engineer approaches that allows mankind to tap into this resource.

Key challenges to be over come:

Identifying and accessing appropriate deep earth deposits with the potential to generate commercially viable hydrogen.

Developing methods to accelerate the reactions that lead to the geologic production of hydrogen

Understanding and controlling the subsurface parasitic reactions that consume the vast majority of naturally produced geologic hydrogen

Heather Kulik

Heather Kulik

Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering, MIT

TUES, MAY 24th, 2022 | 4:00-5:00pm | 255 OLIN

Molecular design blueprints: materials and catalysts from new simulation and machine learning tools

I will discuss our efforts to use machine learning (ML) to accelerate the computational tailoring and design of transition metal complexes and metal-organic framework (MOF) materials for outstanding challenges in resource utilization, including catalysis, separations, and energy storage. One limitation in a challenging materials space such as open shell, 3d transition metal chemistry is that ML models and ML -accelerated high-throughput screening traditionally rely on density functional theory (DFT) for data generation, but DFT is both computationally demanding and prone to errors that limit its accuracy in predicting new materials. I will describe three ways we've overcome these limitations: i) through efficient global optimization to minimize the numbers of calculations carried out to obtain design rules in weeks instead of decades while satisfying multiple objectives; ii) through machine-learned consensus from a family of dozens of functionals to more robustly uncover new materials; and iii) by the use of natural language processing to extract, learn, and directly predict experimental measures of stability on heterogeneous MOF materials

Peter F. Green

Peter Green

Deputy Laboratory Director for Science & Technology; Chief Research Officer for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO)

WED, MAY 4th, 2022 | 4:00-5:00pm | 255 OLIN

Decarbonization of the Energy System: Status of Key Scientific and Technological Challenges

Major trends, including the warming of our planet and associated extreme weather events, urbanization, the proliferation of distributed power generation, storage and consumption technologies (e.g.: EVs, distributed solar and wind power generation, smart devices etc.), and cyber-physical threats, have important implications for how we develop and implement plans to achieve a successful transition from our primary reliance on fossil fuels, and hence achieve the proposed climate goals -a decarbonized energy system by 2035 and a net-zero economy by 2050. To address this challenge, the future energy system must generate power seamlessly from diverse renewable sources: wind, solar, hydropower, bioenergy, nuclear; in the near term fossil (carbon capture and utilization will also be necessary) and non-fossil sources will continue to provide power. The future energy system must monitor and control, autonomously, the operation of millions of distributed power-generating, consuming and storage technologies. Indeed, new scientific and technological advances must occur; new industries and manufacturing infrastructure must also be developed to achieve a successful outcome. Additionally, research at the interface of science, sociology, policy, economics and human behavior will be required. This presentation will address the status and plans for next-generation renewable technologies, including new hybrid technologies, and other strategies required to achieve the climate goals. In addition, the status of research toward developing a future autonomous energy system will also be dicussed.


John A. Swanson | October 2021
Renewable Energy Progress Report or, The Greening of the Grid

Adam Umanoff | September 2021
Decarbonizing California - An Achievable Strategy for Carbon Neutrality

Jiri Klemes| January 30, 2020
Circular Economy Integrating Smart Cities, Smart Industry, and Smart Agriculture

Alicia Barton| December 5, 2019
New York Climate Leadership and Protection Act

Steven Crowley| October 3, 2019
Decarbonizing energy supply and Fusion Energy

Jiming Hao| May 2, 2019
Energy Transition and Air Pollution Control in China

Carl Taylor| April 11, 2019
Revenge of the Distribution Planner 

Yi Cui| March 14, 2019
Materials and Interface Design for Electrochemical Energy Storage

Daniel Kammen| February 21, 2019
An Energy Plan the Earth Can Live With

Harry Atwater | September 20, 2018
New Directions for Electricity and Fuels from Sunlight

Steve Koonin | October 4, 2018
Urban Energy  

Archived CESI event recordings can be found on the CBE Intranet