A scientist's eye view of research for sustainable energy

Ellen Williams, Chief Scientist, BP

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Abstract

We face one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century: providing more and more energy to meet rising demand, but keeping it affordable, secure, reliable and sustainable. But ‘sustainable’ means different things to different people – from discovering and recovering more oil and gas to minimizing the constraints on natural resources used in energy. In this talk, Ellen Williams will outline the importance of scientific research to both finding new solutions and providing trusted data to underpin informed decisions about energy, water, land and minerals.

She will also discuss the importance of effective industry/academic research partnerships to address the challenges of sustainable energy and  illustrate this with examples of BP collaboration with MIT and other leading academic institutions.

About the speaker

Ellen Williams joined BP as Chief Scientist in January, 2010. She is responsible for supporting the basic science that underpins the company’s technology programs, as well as its major university research programs around the world. She also provides strategic scientific advice to BP’s senior executives on matters of Group significance. 

Prior to joining BP, Ellen worked for over thirty years in academia, obtaining her Ph.D at Caltech in 1981, and then moving to the University of Maryland, where she rose to become a Distinguished University Professor in the Institute of Physical Science and Technology and the Department of Physics. Her research specialty in nanoscience lies at the intersection of physics, chemistry and materials science. In support of her research interests, she founded the University of Maryland Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and served as its director for 15 years. In parallel, Ellen has worked extensively in providing technical advice to the U.S. government, primarily through the Departments of Energy and Defence.

Ellen has published widely in her research specialty, and has served on a large number of professional committees. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Physical Society, American Vacuum Society and American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been recognized by awards from the American Physical Society and the Materials Research Society.