News EBI Joins U.S. Universities to Promote Energy Research, Education

The Energy Biosciences Institute has joined programs at more than 30 universities in the formation of the Council of Energy Research and Education Leaders (CEREL), which is committed to advancing the role of higher education in the energy field to improve education, decision-making, and societal well-being.

Announced in Washington on May 26 by the National Council for Science and Environment (NCSE), the new leadership group is the first multidisciplinary membership organization made up of heads of academic energy research and education centers. The EBI is a partnership that includes the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and BP, the energy firm supporting the collaboration.

EBI Assistant Director Susan Jenkins of UC Berkeley was named CEREL’s first president-elect in the election of officers in April. Mohamed Abdou of UCLA is the initial president, Mark Bernstein of the University of Southern California is program chair, and K. J. Reddy of the University of Wyoming is secretary-treasurer.

“A key objective of CEREL is to enhance the role and visibility of universities as premier institutions for carrying out cutting-edge fundamental and applied research on all aspects of energy production, transmission, storage, and utilization that can lead to innovative and practical solutions for a sustainable energy future,” said Abdou, who is director of UCLA’s Center for Energy Science and Technology Advanced Research.

He also noted that CEREL will provide an important forum for sharing experience among universities in educating and training the workforce and future leaders of the energy field. “CEREL helps enable energy research and education at universities to become larger than the sum of their parts,” Abdou said.

Jenkins said the EBI is ideally positioned, representing two of the nation’s leading universities in energy research, to contribute to the effort. “EBI’s goals are very compatible with CEREL’s mission, which includes efforts to advance knowledge and learning in interdisciplinary energy fields,” she said.

David Blockstein, the new group’s executive secretary and a member of the NCSE, commented, “Energy is once again recognized as a national priority. However, the energy research community is highly segmented by energy source, and there are fewer than two dozen universities that offer energy degrees. CEREL enables the academic energy community to work together to meet the nation’s needs for sustainable and reliable energy and to create the highly skilled energy workforce that America needs.”

Nine energy leaders from across the nation will serve as at-large members of the executive committee. They include Hans Blaschek, director of the Center for Advanced Bioenergy Research at EBI’s partner, the University of Illinois. The Energy Institute at UC Davis is also a member of the consortium of universities.

For more information on CEREL, contact: Heidi Fuchs, 202-530-5810 x222 or hfuchs@ncseonline.org


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