Jennifer Wilcox has been named the James H. Manning Professor of Chemical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Wilcox joins WPI from the Colorado School of Mines, where she was an associate professor and interim head of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. Her research focuses on the mitigation of atmospheric pollution from fossil fuel combustion, as well as on developing methods for capturing and storing carbon dioxide.
Specifically, Wilcox, who was a faculty member at WPI earlier in her career, explores methods for removing carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect responsible for the Earth’s rising average temperature, from power plant emissions and from the atmosphere through the use of “synthetic forests.”
“We are thrilled that Jen Wilcox is coming back to WPI as our Manning Professor of Chemical Engineering,” said WPI Provost Bruce Bursten. “Her research in carbon capture and mitigation is both fundamental and practical, and addresses one of the most important problems facing humanity. We look forward to the impact she will have on our students and our world as a member of our faculty.”
Said WPI’s Dean of Engineering Winston Soboyejo, “We are delighted to welcome Jennifer Wilcox back to WPI. She brings with her a wealth of experience and world class expertise that will have a major impact on our programs in the area of sustainability.”
Noting that, as a result of fossil fuel use, atmospheric CO2 concentrations are higher today than at any time in the last 650,000 years, Wilcox has said that just focusing on preventing future CO2 emissions will not be enough to halt or reverse global warming. For such a reversal to be possible, it will be necessary to remove large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere, something referred to as “negative emissions.”