Energy Center

Pioneers in Energy Lecture Series


David Mohler, Deputy Assistant Secretary Clean Coal and Carbon Management DOE

David Mohler

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Clean Coal and Carbon Management DOE Fossil Energy

David Mohler is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal and Carbon
Management within the Office of Fossil Energy at the U.S. Department of
Energy. He is responsible for the DOE’s R&D program in advanced fossil
energy systems, large demonstration projects, carbon capture, utilization, and
storage, and clean coal technology deployment.
Previously, Mr. Mohler served as senior vice president and chief technology
officer for Duke Energy.
Mr. Mohler has operational experience in both nuclear and fossil power
generation, as well as experience in corporate marketing, human resources
and business development. He earned a B.A. from Indiana University, a B.S.
from the University of the State of New York at Albany, an M.A. from Xavier
University of Cincinnati, and an M.S. from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Greg Wilson, Director of the National Center for Photovoltaics at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Greg Wilson

Director, National Center for Photovoltaics at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Greg Wilson is the Director of the National Center for Photovoltaics at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.  Prior to joining NREL in 2011, he was responsible for solar materials technology evaluations related to acquisition and equity investment opportunities in his role as Director of Corporate Business Development at MEMC-SunEdison.  Over Greg’s 16 year career at MEMC he also held a number of semiconductor research and development positions including Director of Layer Transfer R&D, Director of New Materials R&D and Director of Epitaxial Silicon R&D.  Greg holds a D.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from Washington University.

Photo Dennis McGinn

Dennis V. McGinn

Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy, Retired

Retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn serves as a director on the board and strategic architect of the National Conference on Citizenship, as a senior policy advisor to the American Council on Renewable Energy, is a member of the Center for Naval Analysis Military Advisory Board, and a senior fellow for international security at the Rocky Mountain Institute. He is actively engaged in national forums to highlight the close link between energy and international security and the imperative for innovative government policies, focused investments and effective deployment of technology to create a high-quality, sustain- able global environment.

Admiral Dennis McGinn commanded the U.S. Third Fleet, which is responsible for some 50 million square miles of the eastern Pacific Ocean. As Third Fleet Commander, he was recognized for leading great advances in operational innovation.

Michael Ladisch Photo Michael R. Ladisch, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor and Director
Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering
Purdue University and
CTO, Mascoma Corporation

Michael R. Ladisch, PhD is Director of the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering, and Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, and a courtesy appointment in Food Science.  He earned his BS (1973) from Drexel University, MS (1974) and PhD (1977) from Purdue University, all in Chemical Engineering.  He is currently serving as Chief Technology Officer at Mascoma Corporation, under a partial leave of absence arrangement with Purdue University, where he retains limited duties as Director of the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering and as Distinguished Professor. Mascoma is developing innovative and cost effective advances in biotechnology and engineering to unlock and harness the potential of low carbon, renewable energy and to move beyond traditional approaches of ethanol production.

Dr. Ladisch has a broad background in bioscience and bioengineering, and has 30 years experience in research in biofuels and renewable resources.  He has authored a graduate textbook (Bioseparations Engineering, Wiley, 2001), and co-authored an undergraduate textbook (Modern Biotechnology, Wiley, July, 2009), as well as numerous research papers and journal publications.  He was an inaugural recipient of the IRL’s Paul Dana Biofuels Award in 2006.  He received the Agricultural Team (Biosensor Detection Team) and Outstanding Chemical Engineer Awards at Purdue University in 2006.  He was awarded the Marvin J. Johnson Award in Biochemical Technology of the American Chemical Society in 2002, and the Food, Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering Division Award of AIChE in 2001. In 2008, the AIChE named him as one of the 100 engineers of the Modern Era.  In 2009, he was received the Charles Scott Award of the Society of Industrial Microbiology. He was a member of the Alternative Liquid Transportation Fuels Panel of the National Academies that recently published a report on this topic.  Dr. Ladisch was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1999.

Rakesh Agrawal Photo

Dr. Rakesh Agrawal, Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering 

Dr. Agrawal's research focus is related to energy issues and includes novel processes for fabrication of low-cost solar cells, biomass and coal to liquid fuel conversion, hydrogen production from renewable sources and energy systems analysis. His research interests further include basic and applied research in gas separations, process development, synthesis of distillation column configurations, adsorption and membrane separation processes, novel separation processes, gas liquefaction processes, cryogenics, and thermodynamics. Dr. Agrawal holds 116 U.S. and more than 500 foreign patents. These patents are used in more than 100 chemical plants with a capital expenditure in excess of $1 billion dollars.

Before joining the faculty of Purdue University, Dr. Agrawal was an Air Products Fellow at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., from 1980 to 2004. He chaired the Separations Division and the Chemical Technology Operating Council of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and also a Gordon Conference on Separations. He was a member of the NRC Committee on Alternatives and Strategies for Future Hydrogen Production and Use. He is currently a member of the AIChE's Board of Directors and also it's Energy Commission. He is also a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the NRC Board on Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES).

Dr. Agrawal received a B. Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technologies, in Kanpur, India; a M.Ch.E. from the University of Delaware; and a Sc.D. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Michael P. Ramage Photo

Mike Ramage

Michael P. Ramage is retired Executive Vice President, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. Previously he was Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, and Director of Mobil Oil Corporation. Dr. Ramage held a number of positions at Mobil including Research Associate, Manager of Process Research and Development, General Manager of Exploration and Producing Research and Technical Service, Vice President of Engineering, and President of Mobil Technology Company. He has broad experience in many aspects of the petroleum and chemical industries. Dr. Ramage has served on a number of university visiting committees and was a member of the Government University Industrial Research Roundtable. He was a Director of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He is a member of several professional organizations, the Energy Advisory Board of Purdue University, and  Secretary of Energy’s  Hydrogen Technical Advisory Council Dr. Ramage chaired the National Research Council report “The Hydrogen Economy: Opportunities, Costs, Barriers, and R&D Needs”. Dr. Ramage is a member of Secretary of Energy Bodman’s Hydrogen Technical Advisory Council. He is currently chairing NRC committees on “Resource Requirements for an Hydrogen Economy” and “Alternative Liquid Transportation Fuels”. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has served on the NAE Council. Dr. Ramage has B.S., M.S., Ph.D., and HDR degrees in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University.

Lawrence Kazmerski Photo

Lawrence L. Kazmerski

NAE Member, and Director of the National Center for Photovoltaics at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Lawrence L. Kazmerski is Executive Director, Science and Technology Partnerships at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colorado—having served as Director of the National Center for Photovoltaics for the period 1999-2008. He received his B.S.E.E. in 1967, M.S.E.E. in 1968, and his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering in 1970—all from the University of Notre Dame. He served in a postdoctoral position with the Atomic Energy Commission at the Notre Dame Radiation Research Laboratory, January through August 1971. He was on the electrical engineering faculty of the University of Maine before coming to SERI (NREL) in 1977. His research at Maine included NSF- and ERDA-funded work in thin-film photovoltaics and the report of the first thin-film copper-indium-diselenide (CIS) solar cell. He was SERI's (NREL's) first staff member in photovoltaics, hired specifically to establish efforts in the characterization of photovoltaic materials and devices; he led NREL efforts in measurements and characterization for more than 20 years. Kazmerski has more than 320 publications and some 200 invited talks. He has been recognized with several national and international awards, including the World PV Prize, the IEEE William R. Cherry Award, the AVS Peter Mark Memorial Award, and the ASES Charles Greeley Abbot Award. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of the APS, and a Fellow of the AVS. Kazmerski is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Salomon Levy Photo

Salomon Levy

National Academy of Engineering member, president of S. Levy and Associates Inc., and retired vice charman of General Electric Company.

Richard E. Smalley Photo

Richard E. Smalley

Nobel Laureate -1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry


Richard Errett Smalley was a University Professor and the Gene and Norman Hackerman Chair of Chemistry at Rice University.  In 1996, he along with Professors Robert Curl and Harold Kroto was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their 1985 discovery of the buckminsterfullerene.

Smalley, the youngest of 4 siblings, was born on June 6, 1943, in Akron, OH, to Esther Virginia Rhoads and Frank Dudley Smalley, Jr.  He attended Hope College before transferring to the University of Michigan where he received his BS in Chemistry in 1965.  Since the job-market was booming, Smalley opted for the work-force and accepted a position with Shell Oil Company.  In 1969, Smalley returned to his studies at Princeton University.  He worked under Elliot R. Bernstein and received his PhD in Chemistry in 1973.  Smalley immediately followed up his graduate work with a post-doctoral position with Donald H. Levy and Lennard Wharton at the University of Chicago.  In 1976, Smalley moved to Houston, TX, to begin an assistant professorship in the Department of Chemistry.  In 1985, while investigating the constituents of astronomic dark matter, Smalley, Curl, Kroto, and their students discovered the third allotrope of carbon - C60.

After the discovery of the buckyball, Smalley’s research focus turned to carbon nanotubes and the application of their extraordinary properties.  Later in his career, Smalley became very passionate about energy and education.  He believed that by making affordable, clean energy available to all many of humanity’s other pressing problems like poverty and food supply would be much easier to solve.  Smalley spent time not only researching paths to abundant, clean energy he also devoted time to educating politicians and world leaders on the need for and a solution to the energy problem.  Smalley believed strongly that one critical aspect to solving the issue of energy was educating the next generation of scientists.  He often encouraged young students to consider careers in science and engineering under the slogan “Be a scientist, save the world.”

On October 28, 2005, Smalley lost a 6-year battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  He was 62 years old.

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Maureen McCann

Director, Energy Center,
Global Sustainability Institute

Pankaj Sharma

Managing Director, Energy Center,
Global Sustainability Institute

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