Events / Vagelos Institute Lecture in Energy Science and Technology: Dr. Jenny Yang

Vagelos Institute Lecture in Energy Science and Technology: Dr. Jenny Yang

March 20, 2023
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Inspired by Nature: Understanding the Chemistry that Powers Our Planet

Hybrid Event: Register here to attend virtually or in person.


Date and time
Mon, March 20, 2023
4:00 – 5:00 PM EDT; reception to follow


Kleinman Center Energy Forum
220 S. 34th St.
Fisher Fine Arts Building, Room 414
Philadelphia, PA 19104


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.


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).