McCann selected as director of Discovery Park's Energy Center

July 28, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue biological sciences professor Maureen McCann will become the next director of the Energy Center, the university's center in Discovery Park leading interdisciplinary research efforts in advancing alternative energy sources and approaches.

Maureen McCann

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McCann's appointment is effective Sunday (Aug. 1), Alan H. Rebar, executive director of Discovery Park and Purdue's senior associate vice president for research, announced Wednesday (July 28).

She succeeds Jay P. Gore, the Vincent P. Reilly Professor of Combustion Engineering, who had led the Energy Center either as director or interim director since the its inception in 2005. Gore is one of 12 faculty members nationwide to be selected this spring for a prestigious Jefferson Science Fellowship with the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. His fellowship begins Aug. 15.

"Dr. McCann has a strong record of bringing together talented researchers from the Purdue campus and other institutions to address our global energy challenge," Rebar said. "Purdue and our research community working on the energy solution will benefit from her leadership at the Energy Center in Discovery Park."

McCann, who joined the Purdue faculty in January 2003, is researching the molecular architecture of plant cell walls and synthetic biology approaches to incorporating catalysts in them for optimized conversion to liquid fuels. She also serves as director of Purdue's Center for the Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, known as C3Bio.

C3Bio, which is affiliated with the Energy Center and the Bindley Bioscience Center in Discovery Park, was funded with a $20 million U.S. Department of Energy grant in 2009 with the goal of maximizing the carbon and energy efficiencies of biofuel production. Through the center, Purdue researchers hope to engineer new thermal processes and chemical catalysts to directly convert the biomass into fuel. They also are using tools of plant molecular biology to modify the biomass with catalysts and to enable highly efficient conversion processes.

McCann, who also is the assistant head of Purdue's Department of Biological Sciences, received her bachelor's degree in natural sciences from the University of Cambridge before pursuing her doctorate in botany at the John Innes Centre, a government-funded research institute for plant and microbial sciences in Norwich, England. She has published nearly 100 research papers.

Faculty, staff, and students from nine colleges and schools and Purdue Physical Facilities are working with the Energy Center in advancing interdisciplinary research in areas such as bioenergy, clean-coal technologies, and batteries and advanced electrochemical systems to hydrogen, nuclear, solar, nanotechnology, wind and water.

The Energy Center is part of the university's Global Sustainability Initiative, which was recently launched in Discovery Park to coordinate Purdue's research efforts in sustainability challenges such as climate change, energy, the environment and water. The initiative also includes the Center for the Environment and the Purdue Climate Change Research Center.

Discovery Park is the heart of large-scale interdisciplinary research and innovation at Purdue, building on the university's strengths in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Writer:  Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133,

Sources:  Alan H. Rebar, 765-743-6469,

                   Maureen McCann, 765-496-1779,