Vagelos Institute Lecture in Energy Science and Technology

Monday March 20, 2023 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Kleinman Center Energy Forum Fisher Fine Arts Building, 4th Floor
220 S. 34th St.
Philadelphia , PA 19104

Title: Inspired by Nature: Understanding the Chemistry that Powers Our Planet

Abstract: Our planet is powered by the sun. Through photosynthesis, plants use solar energy along with carbon dioxide from the air and water to form chemical bonds to grow and flourish. We use the fruits of their labor to power ourselves through food. Our current energy infrastructure also relies on fuel generated from sunlight over millennia, but the corresponding rapid release of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere has resulted in increasingly severe climate effects. An alternative would be to develop an artificial photosynthetic process to generate carbon-neutral fuels. In doing so, we can close the anthropogenic carbon cycle and establish a more sustainable energy system.

Please join us for a reception following the talk!


Jenny Yang

Professor, Department of Chemistry

University of California, Irvine

Dr. Jenny Y. Yang’s research program is focused on using synthetic inorganic and organic compounds to understand reactivity; specifically, how Nature stores and use energy via bond breaking and forming reactions. She is also interested in how to efficiently and economically capture carbon dioxide from air and other dilute streams for utilization or sequestration. She was inspired to pursue research relevant to renewable energy and sustainability after an internship at the National Renewable Energy Lab while she was an undergraduate.

Dr. Yang received her B.S. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley and Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She worked as a postdoctoral associate and then as a research scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis. After a few years at PNNL, she worked briefly at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at Caltech before starting as an Assistant Professor at UC Irvine in 2013. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2019 and Professor and Chancellor’s Fellow in 2021. She has received the NSF CAREER Award, DOE Early Career Award, Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, UCI Academic Senate Early Career Research Award, Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research, and Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and is a Sloan Foundation Fellow. She is currently the Director of the DOE-funded Center for Closing the Carbon Cycle (4C).

Karen Goldberg

Vagelos Professor of Energy Research


Karen Goldberg received her A.B. degree from Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City. As an undergraduate, she pursued research projects with Professor Roald Hoffmann at Cornell University, Professor Stephen Lippard at Columbia University, and Drs. Tom Graedel and Steven Bertz at AT&T Laboratories. She then went on to the University of California at Berkeley where she earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry working with Professor Robert Bergman. Following a postdoctoral year with Professor Bruce Bursten at The Ohio State University, she joined the faculty at Illinois State University, a primarily undergraduate institution in Normal, IL. In 1995, she moved to the University of Washington (UW) as Assistant Professor of Chemistry. She was awarded tenure at UW and rose through the ranks to full Professor. In 2007 she became the first Raymon E. and Rosellen M. Lawton Distinguished Scholar in Chemistry, and in 2010 she became the first Nicole A. Boand Endowed Professor of Chemistry. She served as Director of the first National Science Foundation-funded Phase II Center for Chemical Innovation (CCI), the Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis (CENTC) from 2007-17. In 2107, she moved to the University of Pennsylvania as a Vagelos Professor of Energy Research and is the inaugural Director of the Vagelos Institute of Energy Science and Technology (VIEST).