View the committee membership via the Academies’ Current Projects site

Stephen Pacala (NAS) – Chair
Princeton University

Dr. Stephen Pacala is Frederick D. Petrie Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. Currently, he co-directs Princeton’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative which is a collaboration between Princeton University and British Petroleum to find solutions to the problem of global warming.  Dr. Pacala previously acted as the Director of the Princeton Environmental Institute. His research covers a wide variety of ecological and mathematical topics with an emphasis on interactions between greenhouse gases, climate and the biosphere. Dr. Pacala has an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in 1978 and a Ph. D. in biology from Stanford University in 1982. He serves on the board of the Environmental Defense Fund. Among his many honors are the David Starr Jordan Prize and the George Mercer Award of the Ecological Society of America. Dr. Pacala is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Why did you first enter the field of ecology and biology?
    Innate curiosity. I knew when I was six I wanted to be a biologist.

  • How do you see your research and expertise interplaying with the tasks asked of this study?
    I study the carbon cycle and climate change.

Mahdi Al-Kaisi
Iowa State University

Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi is a Professor of soil physics in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University. Dr. Al-Kaisi received his M.S. and Ph.D. in soil physics from North Dakota State University in in 1982 and 1986, respectively. Dr. Al-Kaisi has been on the faculty at Iowa State University since 2000, where his research focuses on the effects of cropping and tillage systems, crop residue management, cover crops, and nitrogen application on soil carbon dynamics and sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions, and other ecosystem services. In addition, he studies the interaction effects of agricultural practices and environmental factors such as, weather variability and landscape spatial variability on soil organic carbon sequestration and systems sustainability and productivity. The focus of his research is to develop sustainable management practices that improve soil health, productivity, and environmental services. As a result of his research, he has developed field calculators to assess soil management practices impacts, such as, tillage systems, crop residue, and crop rotation effects on soil sustainability. Also he developed soil carbon index for soils in Iowa.

  • How did you choose the field of agronomy?
    The field of agronomy is the application of basic sciences to produce food, fiber, fuel, and protect soil and air quality. As a soil scientist I found studying agronomy is more impactful in contributing for food security, sustainability, and environmental quality. It is a fascinating field, using a wide range of science disciplines to provide solution to agronomic and environmental challenges. This is why I chose to study Agronomy and it became my profession for the past 30+ years.

  • What led you to focus on the topic of soil sustainability?
    Soil is the foundation of our existence as a human race. In my line of work as a soil scientists, I am always fascinated by the complexity of the soil system and what it provides us in terms of food, medicine, recreation, and other regulating services that are essential to our survival as societies. Therefore, sustaining SOIL is essential to human civilization well-being. Through my career as a soil scientist I devoted my research, education, and outreach efforts to advance such vision through the implementation of best management practices that enhance soil health and reduce soil degradation. Climate change presents real challenge to soil sustainability and efforts to increase soil resiliency such as, carbon sequestration is an important aspect of soil sustainability.

Mark A. Barteau (NAE)
University of Michigan

Dr. Mark A. Barteau is the Director of the University of Michigan Energy Institute and the inaugural DTE Energy Professor of Advanced Energy Research. He previously served as the Senior Vice Provost for Research and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Delaware. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2006. Barteau brings extensive experience as a researcher, inventor, academic leader, and consultant for both US and international organizations. His research focuses on chemical reactions at solid surfaces, and their applications in heterogeneous catalysis and energy processes. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and NASA. Mark received his Ph. D. and Masters in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University in 1981 and 1977, respectively.

  • How did you first become involved in the chemical engineering field?
    I grew up with lots of interests in the natural sciences in a family that encouraged building things and solving problems. I had an outstanding teacher for multiple years of high school chemistry, so chemical engineering seemed to connect all the things I was excited about. I finished my BS degree at 19 and headed to grad school at an age when most students are deciding what to major in. So I guess I was well down the path before I realized it!

  • What is the focus of your current research and what led you to focus on this line of research?
    Most of my research has been in catalysis and the surface chemistry of catalytic reactions. Catalysts have always seemed magical – a sort of philosopher’s stone changing molecules but remaining unchanged. The explosion of molecular-level understanding with the introduction of new experimental and computational tools over the course of my career has kept the field ever fresh and exciting.

  • A few unsolicited factoids about my interests in energy and climate
    Around the time I was elected to the NAE (2006), I began to think more about the importance of addressing societal challenges rather than just interesting research questions. Considering energy and the environmental impacts of its production and use as the grand challenge of this century, I came to see this as the “what did you do in the war, daddy?” question. I didn’t want to tell my children and future grandchildren that I might have had something to contribute to solving these problems, but chose to do other things. That led me to found the University of Delaware Energy Institute and to oversee the foundation of the Delaware Environmental Institute, and later to move to the University of Michigan to direct the Energy Institute here. Along the way, I have greatly enjoyed opportunities for engagement and impact beyond the academic sphere, including chairing the Environmental Footprint task force for the Governor’s Energy Advisory Council for the preparation of the 2009 five-year energy plan for the State of Delaware, numerous public presentations and lectures, and commentaries and perspectives in outlets such as Time, Fortune, the AP, NPR, The Conversation, and The Hill.

Erica Belmont
University of Wyoming

Dr. Erica Belmont is currently serving as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Belmont is also the Principal Investigator of the Belmont Energy Research Group. She received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and her Ph. D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests are in combustion, solid fuels (coal, biomass), alternative fuels, renewable energy, and experimentation.

Sally M. Benson
Stanford University

Dr. Sally M. Benson joined Stanford University as a Professor in 2007. She holds three appointments at Stanford: professor of energy resources engineering in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences; co-director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, the campus-wide hub of energy research and education; and director of the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP). Dr. Benson received a B.S. in geology from Barnard College at Columbia University in 1977, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in materials science and mineral engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1988. An internationally recognized scientist, Dr. Benson is responsible for fostering cross-campus collaborations on energy and guiding the growth and development of a diverse research portfolio. Prior to joining Stanford, Dr. Benson was at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Dr. Benson is a groundwater hydrologist and reservoir engineer, and is regarded as a leading authority on carbon capture and storage, and emerging energy technologies. In 2012, she served as a convening lead author of the Global Energy Assessment, a multinational project coordinated by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

  • Why did you first enter the field of geology and mineral engineering and what led you to focus on energy resources and research?
    A belief that energy was crucial to well-being but that we needed more sustainable energy resources.

Richard Birdsey
Woods Hole Research Center

Dr. Richard Birdsey is a specialist in quantitative methods for large-scale forest inventories and has pioneered development of methods to estimate national carbon budgets for forest lands from forest inventory data.  Dr. Birdsey is currently serving as a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center after recently retiring from the United States Forest Service as a “Distinguished Scientist” and was the Program Manager for global change research in the Northern Research Station.  Richard was a lead author of two Special Reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  He was a lead author of the first North American “State of the Carbon Cycle” report and is currently a member of the science team guiding the second report.  He has contributed to several assessments of climate change in the U.S.  He served three years as Chair of the U.S. Government Carbon Cycle Science Steering Group.  He has published extensively on forest management and strategies to increase carbon sequestration, and facilitated the development of decision-support tools for policy and management.  He was recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a major contributor to creating a new agricultural commodity – carbon.  Dr. Birdsey is a member of a team of scientists developing and implementing the North American Carbon Program, an international effort to improve quantification and understand causes of carbon exchange between land, atmosphere, and oceans.  In recent years he has been actively working with Mexico and Canada to improve monitoring, verification, and reporting to support climate change mitigation with an emphasis on Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation and promoting sustainable forest management (REDD+) and improving forest management in the 3 countries.  He is currently working with the Forest Service National Forest System to implement carbon assessments for all of the U.S. National Forests.

Dane Boysen
Cyclotron Road/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Dr. Dane Boysen is currently the Chief Technologist for Cyclotron Road, a lab-embedded mentorship program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory funded by the Advanced Manufacturing Office at the U.S. Department of Energy. Prior to Cyclotron Road, Dr. Boysen was the Executive Director of Research Operations at the Gas Technology Institute (GTI). Before GTI, he served as a Program Director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), where he managed over $100 million over 30 of the nation’s most cutting-edge energy technology research and development projects. Prior to joining ARPA-E, Boysen led an $11 million project to develop liquid metal batteries for grid-scale energy storage under Professor Don Sadoway at MIT. Dane co-founded Superprotonic Inc., a venture capital-backed start-up developing solid acid electrolyte-based fuel cells. Boysen received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology in 1999 and 2001, respectively. Dr. Boysen’s research experience includes developing and commercializing hard energy technology.

  • What first drew you to the field of energy technologies?
    Right after graduate school, my classmate and I started a company called Superprotonic to commercialize the solid acid-based fuel cell technology we pioneered while at Caltech. The technology had promise for low-emissions, high-efficiency distributed power generation. After raising about $20M in venture capital, our company was ultimately shut-down in 2009 amidst the financial crisis caused by the economic recession. It was my first lesson in just how difficult it is to bring energy technologies to market.

  • What type of research and development projects did you manage as Program director at ARPA-E?
    As a program director at ARPA-E, I managed over $100M in cutting-edge energy technologies spread out over 30 projects. The research projects I managed spanned a wide-range of technologies, including advanced approaches for post-combustion carbon capture, battery energy storage, thermoelectrics, magnetocaloric cooling, HVAC, gas separations, automotive natural gas storage and compression, and gas-to-liquid conversion.

Riley Duren
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Mr. Riley Duren is Chief Systems Engineer for the Earth Science and Technology Directorate at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He received his BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University in 1992. He has worked at the intersection of engineering and science including seven space missions ranging from earth science to astrophysics. His current portfolio spans JPL’s earth system science enterprise as well as applying the discipline of systems engineering to climate change decision-support. His research includes anthropogenic carbon emissions and working with diverse stakeholders to develop policy-relevant monitoring systems. He is Principal Investigator for five projects involving anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions. He has also co-led studies on geoengineering research, monitoring, and risk assessment. He is a Visiting Researcher at UCLA’s Joint Institute For Regional Earth System Science and Engineering and serves on the Advisory Board for NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress.

Charles Hopkinson
University of Georgia

Dr. Charles Hopkinson is a Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia. Dr. Hopkinson earned both his Ph.D. and M.S. in Marine Science from Louisiana State University in 1979 and 1973, respectively. Dr. Hopkinson served as a Chairman of the Radiation Safety Committee of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts from 1993 until 2008. Charles is currently a member of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography and the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation. Dr. Hopkinson’s current research interests are in the biogeochemistry of watersheds, wetlands, estuaries, and continental shelves as well as climate change and land/sea coupling.

Christopher Jones
Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. Christopher Jones is a Love Family Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. Christopher earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology in 1997 and 1999, respectively. Dr. Jones was named the Associate Vice President for Research at Georgia Tech in November 2013. In this role, he directs 50% of his time on campus-wide research administration, managing internally funded research programs in coordination with the colleges and with a primary focus on interdisciplinary research efforts, and policy related to research institutes, centers and research core facilities. Dr. Jones directs a research program focused primarily on catalysis and CO2 separation, sequestration and utilization.

  • Why did you choose the field of chemical engineering?
    Chemical engineering combined my love for chemistry with my desire to use science to improve the human condition. Once I learned what chemical engineering was, I knew it was the right path for me.

  • What led you to focus on the topic of catalysis and CO2 separation, sequestration and utilization?
    Because of my interest in the chemistry, specifically making new or improved molecules, catalysis seemed like a natural focus area since it is the science of accelerating chemical reactions. It is critical to the discovery of new reactions as well. I specifically became interested in CO2 separation, sequestration and utilization because I see it as the defining technical challenge of the 21st century. We live in a carbon-constrained world, and learning how to efficiently manage carbon emissions is critical to a healthy planet and populace.

Peter Kelemen (NAS)
Columbia University

Dr. Peter Kelemen is Arthur D. Storke Professor and Chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. Dr. Kelemen received his Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Washington in 1987 and 1985, respectively. Dr. Kelemen is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geochemical Society and European Association of Geochemistry, and the Mineralogical Society of America. He is a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History, and an Adjunct Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, where he was a Senior Scientist and Charles Francis Adams Chair until 2004. He has worked on the genesis and evolution of oceanic and continental crust, chemical cycles in subduction zones, and new mechanisms for earthquake initiation. His primary focus is on geologic capture and storage of CO2 (CCS), and reaction-driven cracking processes in natural and engineered settings, with application to CCS, geothermal power generation, hydrocarbon extraction, and in situ mining, and most recently included CO2 capture and storage and mineral carbonation and hydration.

  • When did you first become interested in environmental science?
    I had a pre-plate-tectonics earth science course in 8th or 9th grade; it was intolerably boring, and I hated it; however, we did read “The Population Bomb” by Paul Ehrlich, which left a lasting concern that the supply of essential resources might not keep up with population. And of course, at a “leftist” Quaker high school during the Vietnam war, we were against big corporations polluting the environment. I read all the Sierra Club books. I admired HD Thoreau, David Brower and Edward Abbey.

    In college, I was an English and Philosophy major until about 2/3 of the way through my six year undergraduate education. I was climbing a lot, months at a time, and I noticed that a lot of the other rock climbers were getting seasonal jobs doing mineral exploration. I did not wish to attend business school, or journalism school, or law school, and unlike my wealthier classmates I definitely needed a job when I finished college. Thus, a seasonal “day job” doing mineral exploration outside in the mountains sounded good, and I changed my major for this reason. (Fortunately, I had been taking math and science classes “on the side”, throughout my time at Dartmouth, so I did have the math, physics and chemistry background I needed). In my 2nd to last year of college I fell rock climbing and broke my back. For some reason, after that I was a much more serious student, and pretty much intended to go grad school.

    I should add that Dennis and Donella Meadows – authors of Limits to Growth – were influential professors at Dartmouth while I was there, and their message made its way into our “Economic Geology” class, taught by Prof. Half Zantop. I was worried about resource shortages, and asked Half what I could do about this. He answered that I should get a job and become a professional geologist, and when I was about 50 years old maybe I would have enough influence to make a difference. I did not plan to do that, but as it turned out, I did that.

  • What led you to focus on mineral carbonation?
    In grad school, my advisor Prof. Bernard Evans at the University of Washington, was an expert on alteration of rocks from the Earth’s interior (mantle peridotite) when they were transported by plate tectonics, toward the surface by plate tectonics and reacted with water and CO2. When I asked, to how low a temperature does hydration and carbonation of peridotite continue, Bernard showed me a paper by Ivan Barnes and Hugh O’Neil showing that it continues in the weathering environment, at the surface, and forms carbonate terraces (travertines). Okay, so I filed this information away. At the time, I was mostly interested in much higher temperature processes of magma transport in the mantle.

    Working on exposures of mantle rocks in the Sultanate of Oman starting in 1990, I saw plenty of travertines and other evidence for low temperature carbon mineralization, but I generally tried to avoid this kind of thing because it obscures or obliterates evidence of the high temperature processes that interested me. However, I knew the evidence was evident! When I moved from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to Columbia University, I heard Prof. Klaus Lackner and his disciples talking about using carbon mineralization in mantle peridotite as a way of storing CO2, and saying that this process had proven to be too slow. As a bit of a contrarian, I thought “that can’t be right”, because I had seen travertines grow and change overnight. For a geologist, something that happens overnight is equivalent to super-sonic speeds for airplanes. So I set out to measure the rate of carbon mineralization in Oman, and sure enough it turned out to be very fast. Moreover, methods to increase the rate by a factor of one million or so seemed evident to me, and I’ve been following that path ever since. In the world of carbon management, my research is very specialized. I am focused on what I can do well. I try hard not to push our particular option too hard. It is just something I am investigating, with some unique promise particularly for carbon dioxide removal from air, because we aim to harness naturally available chemical potential energy, and spontaneous reactions, to reduce the energy and financial cost of capture from air. But there are obstacles to implementation. Thus, I always try to emphasize that we are just doing basic research on a promising method that may or may not be The Best, or even one-of-the-best options for the future.

Annie Levasseur
École de Technologie Supérieure

Dr. Annie Levasseur is a Professor in the Department of Construction Engineering at École de Technologie Supérieure. Dr. Levasseur received her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Polytechnique Montréal in 2011, and is currently the Chair of the UNEP-SETAC LCIA Global Guidance – Global Warming Task Force, a group of international climate and life cycle assessment (LCA) researchers working to develop guidelines for the use of climate metrics in LCA.

  • How did you first become involved in lifecycle analysis?
    I was working as a process engineer. 8 years after graduation, I decided to do a PhD to orient my career toward research and teaching. I wanted to gain expertise in environmental engineering. Looking at potential research fields, I discovered life cycle assessment and immediately “fell in love” with it. I really liked the idea of working on the development/improvement of this holistic diagnostic tool that allows us to quantify potential environmental impacts of any system to provide guidance for policy makers, designers, engineers, etc.

  • What led you to become involved in developing climate metrics for LCA?
    LCA uses metrics to assess different types of environmental impacts. However, during my PhD, I gained an expertise around climate change metrics because of the nature of my project, which was to take into account the timing of greenhouse gas emissions in LCA. A few years later, I chaired a task force for a UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative project with the objective of reviewing current knowledge and most recent findings in climate science to provide recommendations for LCA practitioners regarding the selection of climate metrics to use in LCA.

Keith Paustian
Colorado State University

Dr. Keith Paustian is Professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and Senior Research Scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University.  Dr. Paustian received his M.S. in Forest Ecology from Colorado State University in 1980, and his Ph.D. in Systems Ecology and Agroecology from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in 1987.  Keith served as a Coordinating Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Greenhouse Gas Inventory Taskforce and has served on numerous other national and international committees involving climate and carbon cycle research.  He has previously Co-chaired a Task Force on “Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation: Challenges and Opportunities for Agriculture” by the Council on Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), and was lead author on a Pew Center report on “Agriculture’s Role in Greenhouse Gas Mitigation”. Dr. Paustian’s research interests include soil organic matter dynamics, carbon and nitrogen cycling in cropland and grassland ecosystems, and the evaluation of environmental impacts of agricultural bioenergy production.

  • What first drew you to the field of soil science?
    While I was working on my MSc in Forest Ecology on modeling impacts of fire on forest systems, I became fascinated with soils – their complexity and multi-faceted nature – in some of my course work. I subsequently worked on simulation modeling of soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics at the Natural Resource Ecology Lab at CSU, before taking a research associate position in Sweden on a long-term agroecosystem’s study. Trying to model the complexities of soil organic matter dynamics and element cycling was so interesting that I got hooked.

  • How did you become involved in climate and carbon cycle research?
    I was fortunate to get to know some of the early international leaders in climate change/carbon cycle research, for example Thomas Rosswall and Bert Bolin, while doing my PhD studies in Sweden in the mid 1980s. Later when I came back to the US, I was a co-PI on one of the first large studies, funded by EPA and starting in 1991, to assess the impact of agricultural practices on the carbon cycle, from a greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation perspective. I later got involved in IPCC work to develop inventory methods for soil C to support national reporting by countries that were signatories to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. I think the combination of working on basic research on soil organic matter dynamics and then trying to extend that work to more practical applications involving GHG inventory methods, assessment of GHG mitigation potential and developing quantification tools to support policy initiatives has been a great career opportunity.

Jianwu (Jim) Tang
Marine Biological Laboratory

Dr. Jianwu (Jim) Tang is an Associate Scientist in The Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Dr. Tang received his Ph. D. in ecosystem sciences from the University of California, Berkeley in 2003. Following his degree program, Dr. Tang was a Research Associate at the University of Minnesota focusing on forest carbon cycles. Dr. Tang is currently serving on the Steering Committee for the Global Science and Data Network for Coastal Blue Carbon, funded by the Carbon Cycle Interagency Working Group (CCIWG), and is a member of the American Geophysical Union and Ecological Society of America. Dr. Tang is currently researching greenhouse gas (CO2, CH4, and N2O) emissions from agro-ecosystems and wetlands and their responses to management and disturbance. The wetland work evaluates the role of “blue carbon” in coastal wetlands and the significance of wetland restoration in carbon sequestration.

  • How did you choose the field of ecosystems science?
    I was fascinated by the smartness of an ecosystem: the element cycle, the feedback mechanism, resilience to disturbance, optimization of resource usage, etc. So, I chose to study the field of ecosystem science when I entered graduate school at University of California at Berkeley.

  • What led you to focus on the topic of GHG emissions from agro-ecosystems and wetlands?
    Carbon cycling is a major component of ecosystem science. Understanding GHG emissions is fundamental for carbon cycling and helps us to predict the influence of carbon cycling to and the impact from climate change. If we want to do something to push ecosystems to reduce GHG emissions and offset climate change, agro-ecosystems and wetlands are most promising as they are relatively manageable in some degrees. For example, better agricultural practices and conservation and restoration of coastal wetlands could increase carbon fixation in soils and reduce GHG emissions.

Tiffany Troxler
Florida International University

Dr. Tiffany Troxler is the Director and Associate Director for Science of the Sea Level Solutions Center. The Center’s work is to advance knowledge, decision making and actions toward mitigating the causes and adapting to the effects of sea-level rise. She is also Research Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.  Some of her projects include collaborative research that examines the effects of saltwater inundation on Everglades coastal wetlands, assesses management actions associated with Everglades restoration and advances interdisciplinary urban solutions to sea-level rise. She is also collaborating on the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program. She is co-editor and contributing author on two IPCC methodological reports that guide national greenhouse gas inventories on managed wetlands.  Dr. Troxler received her Masters and Ph. D. in Biological Sciences from Florida International University in 2001 and 2005, respectively.

Michael Wara
Stanford University

Dr. Michael Wara is an Associate Professor of Law at Stanford University. Dr. Wara received his J. D. from Stanford Law School and his Ph.D. in Ocean Sciences from University of California, Santa Cruz. An expert on energy and environmental law, Michael Wara’s research focuses on climate and electricity policy. Professor Wara’s current scholarship lies at the intersection between environmental law, energy law, international relations, atmospheric science, and technology policy. Dr. Wara joined Stanford Law in 2007 as a research fellow in environmental law and as a lecturer in law. Previously, he was an associate in Holland & Knight’s Government Practice Group, where his practice focused on climate change, land use, and environmental law. Dr. Wara is a research fellow at the Program in Energy and Sustainable Development in Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, a Faculty Fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, and a Center Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment.

Jennifer Wilcox
Colorado School of Mines

Dr. Jennifer Wilcox is an Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Dr. Wilcox earned a B.A. in mathematics from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Arizona. Dr. Wilcox received an ARO Young Investigator Award (Membrane Design for Optimal Hydrogen Separation), an ACS PRF Young Investigator Award (Heterogeneous Kinetics of Mercury in Combustion Flue Gas), and an NSF CAREER Award (Arsenic and Selenium Speciation in Combustion Flue Gas). She has served on a number of committees, including the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the American Physical Society, to assess CO2 capture methods and impacts on climate. Along with her lab, Dr. Wilcox’s research interests combine experimental and theoretical methods to investigate capture and sequestration of trace metals (mercury, arsenic, and selenium) and carbon dioxide.

  • When did you first become interested in chemical engineering?
    I majored in mathematics and pre-med as an undergrad at Wellesley College. I initially went for a PhD in pure math at the University of Oregon, but after just a couple of months of rain and too much math without an application, I needed a change. A friend told me to move to Tucson, Arizona because it was sunny every day. So this is what I did. I first became interested in chemical engineering after meeting a math professor at the University of Arizona who was helping me to “find my way.” He said – you love math and chemistry – how about trying Chemical Engineering. The rest is history.

  • What led you to focus on carbon capture and sequestration?
    In 2007 I was listening to NPR on my drive home from work and heard Howard Herzog (MIT) speaking on CCS. It was his words and message that inspired me to refocus my efforts from trace metal emissions from coal-fired flue gases to mitigation of CO2 emissions. Howard is a close colleague, mentor and friend of mine today. I feel fortunate that the CCuS community is so close-knit from which we all share the common goal of minimizing environmental impacts of society’s dependence on fossil fuels.

    For more information, I was recently interviewed on People behind the Science.

Statement of Committee Composition
Determination of an Unavoidable Conflict of Interest: Christopher Jones

In accordance with Section 15 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the “Academy shall make its best efforts to ensure that no individual appointed to serve on [a] committee has a conflict of interest that is relevant to the functions to be performed, unless such conflict is promptly and publicly disclosed and the Academy determines that the conflict is unavoidable.” A conflict of interest refers to an interest, ordinarily financial, of an individual that could be directly affected by the work of the committee. As specified in the Academy’s policy and procedures (, an objective determination is made for each provisionally appointed committee member whether or not a conflict of interest exists given the facts of the individual’s financial and other interests and the task being undertaken by the committee. A determination of a conflict of interest for an individual is not an assessment of that individual’s actual behavior or character or ability to act objectively despite the conflicting interest.

We have concluded that for this committee to accomplish the tasks for which it was established, its membership must include among others, at least one member who possesses current expertise in the practical application of and experience in developing direct air capture technologies for CO2.

To meet this need for expertise and experience, Christopher Jones is proposed for appointment to the committee even though we have concluded that he has a conflict of interest because of his financial interests in Global Thermostat LLC, a company whose financial interests could be affected by the outcome of the study.

As described in his biographical summary, Dr. Jones is an expert in the separation, sequestration, and utilization of CO2 from both dilute (ambient air) and concentrated (power plant emissions) streams. In particular, he has extensive current experience in catalysts and the design and implementation of amine adsorbent materials for CO2 capture.

We believe that Dr. Jones can serve effectively as a member of the committee and that the committee can produce an objective report, taking into account the composition of the committee, the work to be performed, and the procedures to be followed in completing the work.

After an extensive search, we have been unable to identify another individual with the equivalent combination of current, practical application of CO2 capture technology development and scientific expertise as Dr. Jones who does not have a similar conflict of interest. Therefore, we have concluded that the potential conflict of interest is unavoidable.


Katherine Thomas
Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate
(202) 334-3860

Katie Thomas is a Senior Program Officer for the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. She earned an M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University in 2009 and a B.S. from the University of Michigan in 2004. Since joining the National Academies in 2006, she has directed studies on urban meteorology, Arctic sea ice prediction, permafrost, and extreme event attribution. She is currently directing a study on measuring and monitoring anthropogenic methane emissions. She has also served as the rapporteur for four workshop summaries: Urban Forestry: Toward an Ecosystem Services Research Agenda; Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns; Improving the Understanding of Clouds and Aerosols in Climate Models; and Antarctic Sea Ice Variability in the Southern Ocean-Climate System.

John Holmes
Board on Energy and Environmental Systems
(202) 334-2045

Dr. K. John Holmes is the acting director and scholar for the National Academies’ Board on Energy and Environmental Systems. His responsibilities at BEES include study development, management, and directing studies. His current portfolio includes directing a study of the resiliency of the electricity system and co-directing the review of the DOE ARPA-E program and the development of a RD&D agenda for carbon dioxide removal approaches. Other studies directed or co-directed by Dr. Holmes include: Cost, Effectiveness, and Deployment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles (2015); Overcoming Barriers to Electric Vehicle Deployment (2015); Electricity from Renewables (2009); and State and Federal Standards for Mobile Source Emissions (2006). He also was a member of the NRC’s America’s Energy Future study team. Dr. Holmes has published and presented on a wide range of topics including vehicle technologies and mobile source emissions, renewable electricity, climate change, air quality management, stratospheric ozone depletion, emissions trading, and regulatory computational models. He received a B.S. from Indiana University, M.S.E. from University of Washington, and Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University.

Camilla Ables
Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources
(202) 334-2272

Camilla Ables joined the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources in March 2008. A native of the Philippines, she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños in 1991 and later on worked as a researcher at the International Rice Research Institute. She attended the University of Florida from 1996-2001 and received a PhD in Plant Pathology. Prior to working at the Academies, Camilla worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Purdue University and at the US Horticultural Research Laboratory of the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service in Fort Pierce, FL. She has performed research in the areas of weed biological control (discovery and development of bioherbicides), plant disease control, and methyl bromide alternatives. She is a member of the American Phytopathological Society and the Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture. Camilla has served as study director or as co-study director for the following projects: Letter Report to the Florida Department of Citrus on the Review of Research Proposals on Citrus Greening (2008), Strategic Planning for the Florida Citrus Industry: Addressing Citrus Greening Disease (2010), An Evaluation of the Food Safety Requirements of the Federal Purchase Ground Beef Program (2010), The Potential Consequences of Public Release of Food Safety and Inspection Service Establishment-Specific Data (2011) and Feasibility of Using Mycoherbicides for Controlling Illicit Drug Crops (2011).

Anne Linn
Board on Earth Sciences and Resources
(202) 334-3021

Anne M. Linn is a senior program officer with the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources of the National Academies. She has been with the board since 1993, directing the USA World Data Center Coordination Office, and staffing a wide variety of geophysics and data policy studies. In addition, she is the secretary of the ICSU Panel on World Data Centers, and a member of the ICSU Ad Hoc Committee on Data. Prior to joining the staff of the National Academies, Dr. Linn was a visiting scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and a postdoctoral geochemist at the University of California, Berkeley. She received a Ph.D. in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Anna Sberegaeva
Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology
(202) 334-3878

Dr. Sberegaeva joined the Academies in 2016 as an Associate Program Officer on the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology (BCST). Her expertise is in the area of energy, fuels, and environment. Prior to BCST she was a recipient of the American Society for Engineering Education Fellowship and held a position of a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Naval Research Laboratory. Anna earned her Ph.D. in Organometallic Chemistry from the University of Maryland College Park and her M.Sc. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Florida. Anna earned B.S. in Chemistry and B.A. in Linguistics from the Herzen State Pedagogical University in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Emily Twigg
Ocean Studies Board
(202) 334-2351

Emily Twigg joined the Ocean Studies Board in October 2016 as an Associate Program Officer. Prior to her time at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, she held positions at the National Science Foundation and at the Environmental Protection Agency. She has a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. She has additional experience working in resource management at a national park, and in outdoor environmental education.

Yasmin Romitti
Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate
(202) 334-3227

Yasmin Romitti is a Research Associate with the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, as well as the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources at the Academies. She previously worked with the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program, supporting projects such as Pathways to Urban Sustainability, Transitioning toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation, and the Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability. Prior to the Academies, she worked with the United Nations Environment Program, working on workshops and roundtables pertaining to climate change, biodiversity conservation, various environmental treaties and conventions, and the Sustainable Development Goals. She earned a B.A. in International Relations with a minor in Biology at Boston University and a Master of Advanced International Studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna in Austria.

Michael Hudson
Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate
(202) 334-2583

Michael Hudson grew up in Roanoke, VA and in 2014, graduated from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia with a B.S. in Geographic Science concentrating in Environmental Conservation, Sustainability, and Development with a minor in Environmental Science. After graduating, and without a clear career path, Michael pursued nonprofit work in Roanoke and joined AmeriCorps while working alongside a local nonprofit, The Advancement Foundation, as a community and economic developer. Harnessing that passion for nonprofit work and a background in environmental sciences, Michael moved to Washington, DC in January 2015 to pursue a position combining the two. It was then he briefly worked for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign before gaining full-time employment at the National Academies and BASC/PRB. Outside of work, Michael enjoys exploring DC, cross country skiing, happy hours, and the mountains of the Blue Ridge Valley.