Earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences alumnus gift creates first endowed chair

November 19, 2013  

Karen and Stephen Brand

Karen and Stephen Brand 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Stephen R. Brand, a Purdue University earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences alumnus, and his wife, Karen, have given a gift to create the department's first endowed chair. 

The Stephen and Karen Brand Endowed Chair will be used to recruit a researcher in the area of unconventional energy resources to the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.

"From an energy perspective, exploration of unconventional resources in oil and gas is where the future is headed," Stephen Brand said. "We hope this chair will help Purdue capitalize on its strengths in geology and engineering to build and expand knowledge in this emerging area to help solve the energy problem and offer students the opportunity to learn in-demand skills that will set them apart from other graduates."

Unconventional resources is a term used for oil and gas extracted through methods other than conventional oil wells and includes the alternative energy sources of shale gas, shale oil, petroleum from tight sands and coal, Brand said.

"Breakthroughs in the areas the Brand chair will study are the world's best hope for affordable, plentiful energy and economic uplift," Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. "We must invest in research to find other ways to create the energy we need. The Stephen and Karen Brand Endowed Chair will provide the platform from which Purdue can grow into a leader in maximizing these new possibilities in concert with new industry and government partners."

Through a combination of the Brands' gift and other designated university matching funds, the total funding for the endowed chair will be $2 million.

"The Brands' generous gift will have a huge impact on the transformational energy research that goes on in the College of Science," said Jeffrey Roberts, the Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science. "The field of unconventional energy is an important and attractive area for our students to explore. This chair will help them along their journey."

Stephen Brand earned master's and doctorate degrees in geology from Purdue in 1973 and 1976, respectively. He also was named an outstanding alumnus by Purdue's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences in 2010 and a distinguished alumnus by Purdue's College of Science in 2013.

He began his career in 1976 with Phillips Petroleum Company, which would later become ConocoPhillips, as a geologist for exploration and production. He rose through the ranks and eventually served as president of Australasia, then vice president of worldwide exploration and business development for exploration and production, and senior vice president of technology (R&D). During his tenure as senior vice president of technology, programs were developed and initiated in nanotechnology, algae biofuels, low carbon hydrogen, organic solar cells, carbon dioxide capture technology and dieselization.

Brand is currently a member of the SM Energy and BPZ Energy Board of Directors, an advisory board member and senior executive adviser for Welltec, and a science advisory board member for Glori Energy. He also is a member of the Accenture Global Energy Board, the Biofuels Technical Review Panel of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Technology Task Group Chair for the recently completed National Petroleum Council's Advancing Technology for America's Transportation Future study.

"I wanted to repay the department that provided me with not only a top-of-the-line technical education to thoroughly analyze various types of problems, but also with the tools to creatively and pragmatically solve problems and apply that knowledge," he said. "I credit Purdue professors' guidance and the educational philosophy at Purdue with helping me develop a critical thought process that allowed me to fully comprehend, analyze and solve the problems I would face in the future, which was essential to my career development."

Brand was born in Owatonna, Minn., and earned his bachelor's degree in geology from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, which also has recognized him as a distinguished alumnus. The Brands currently live in Houston. 

Writer: Elizabeth K. Gardner, 765-494-2081, 

Sources: Mitch Daniels,

 Jeffrey Roberts, 765-494-1730,

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