Dept. of Energy’s Dr. Jennifer Wilcox, Featured in Newsletter

“The path will be a delicate balance of trade offs, but understanding the building blocks to minimize environmental impacts will be critical to ensuring we are not simply transferring this burden to future generations.”

In celebration of COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference happening in Glasgow next week, this week’s feature is Dr. Jennifer Wilcox, one of the most important figures in carbon dioxide removal.

Dr. Jennifer Wilcox, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) for Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management at the Department of Energy. Dr. Wilcox is on leave as the Presidential Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. As a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, she previously led WRI’s Carbon Removal Program. She holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering and a MA in Chemistry from the University of Arizona and BA in Mathematics from Wellesley College.
How did you become interested in the field of carbon capture management?

My background is in chemical engineering and my PhD focused on minimizing the environmental impacts associated with our dependence on coal for electricity generation. Throughout my career I became increasingly focused on efforts associated with minimizing environmental impacts from all fossil fuels and not just carbon dioxide emissions, but other negative impacts as well.

Many people have referred to the book you co-edited, “Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) Primer,” as “the bible of CO2 removal” and an essential read for anyone in this field. How did this book come into being?  

That’s great to hear! The effort evolved over several years, starting with a workshop on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and CDR back in 2017, where a group of thought leaders in the field gathered and we recognized how diverse our backgrounds and areas of expertise were—and that having a single go-to document for our community would be beneficial. With this primer we aimed to create a common language so that we could accelerate the depth of our conversations, actions, and ultimately, our impacts in this field.

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