Two Penn Engineering Faculty Members Appointed to Department of Energy

Vanessa Z. Chan and Jennifer Wilcox
Vanessa Z. Chan and Jennifer Wilcox

The Biden-Harris Administration’s Department of Energy (DOE) has appointed two members of the Penn Engineering faculty to senior leadership positions

Vanessa Z. Chan, Jonathan and Linda Brassington Practice Professor, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, will serve as the DOE’s Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of its Office of Technology Transitions.

Jennifer Wilcox, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Energy Policy, will serve as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy in the DOE’s Division of Fossil Energy.  

Chan, who also serves as the Undergraduate Chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has experience helping large companies commercialize their technologies as well as developing academic curricula that helps engineering students maximize the social impact of their work. She is also the founder of  Kinetic Creators, a “virtual entrepreneurial summer experience” for students around the world whose career-development internships were disrupted by the pandemic. 

As the DOE’s Chief Commercialization Officer, Chan will lead the Department’s tech transfer activities, ensuring taxpayer funded discoveries make their way out of labs and into the public.

Wilcox, who has appointments in the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, based at the Stuart Weitzman School of Design, as well as the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is a globally recognized expert on carbon capture technology. Her research develops ways of preventing new carbon dioxide emissions, sequestering it at the source, removing it from the atmosphere, and safely sequestering this carbon for re-use or permanent storage. She recently co-edited a Carbon Dioxide Removal Primer, an open-source publication intended to get climate change leaders up to speed on these techniques. 

At DOE, Wilcox’s role will involve improving the nation’s carbon management as it transitions to a clean-energy economy.