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November 4, 2009

Energy Symposium Highlights Sigma Xi Annual Meeting in Texas

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – The global energy crisis will be the focus of a symposium at the 2009 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and International Research Conference in The Woodlands, Texas (near Houston) on Saturday, November 14, from 1:15-4:45 p.m. at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel.

From the development and implementation of alternative and renewable energy sources, to increased energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions, science and engineering have enormous roles to play in solving the world's energy crisis.

As the international honor society of science and engineering, Sigma Xi is in a unique position to inform and guide government and industry in the development and promotion of affordable, reliable and sustainable energy.

Symposium topics and speakers include:

John F. Ahearne (Moderator), executive director emeritus of Sigma Xi, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy and former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense

"Unexpected Difficulties with Geologic C02 Storage"
Christine A. Ehlig-Economides, professor of petroleum engineering, Texas A&M University, and founder of the Center for Energy, Environment and Transportation at the Crisman Institute and member of recently released National Academies study "America's Energy Future"

Geologic storage of carbon dioxide produced by coal combustion or gasification has been viewed by many experts as a likely way to enable continued generation of electricity from coal and other fossil fuels, provided that the power plant produces a concentrated CO2 stream and includes compression for the CO2 injection. While some CO2 may be stored in depleted oil and gas reservoirs or used to enhance oil recovery, deep saline aquifers are envisioned for the majority of geologic CO2 storage. This presentation will show that storage of the CO2 produced from a moderate size coal power plant will require an aquifer thousands of square kilometers in areal extent or hundreds of injection wells, or both.

"Linking Renewable Energy Policy, Technology and Science"
Michal Moore, senior fellow, Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy, University of Calgary

The energy industry and the society that depends on reliable, affordable and accessible energy, especially electricity, is challenged by the fact energy production, no matter the source, does not present a perfectly benign environmental footprint. In the case of renewable energy technologies, not only the cost and maturity of the industry are at issue, but also the role played within the energy market and the relationship to older, well-developed technologies such as coal or nuclear generation. Policy-makers who wish to encourage or stimulate these or other "green" technological solutions to power generation face a dilemma in terms of cost recovery and performance and the public perception of a threat from declining environmental quality directly linked to power production. This dynamic tension is revealed in the nature of regulation, extension of ancillary facilities such as transmission lines, avoidance of deleterious health effects and long term power system reliability. The policy regime does not operate to the same standards as the scientific or academic communities, yet it relies on the work from these institutions. Developing a common language and concomitant regulatory system is a key to stable economic growth and environmental balance, which can be illustrated using the example of renewable energy generation and competing demands for water.

"The Main Energy Challenges of the 21st Century"
Hans B. Püttgen, energy systems management chair and director of the Energy Center at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne

On the basis of some key worldwide energy statistics and after a very brief overview of the energy production and consumption trends during the 19th and 20th century, the observation is reached that the world faces a profound bifurcation of energy challenges between the industrialized regions of the world and those which are emerging. In industrialized countries, the challenge will be a more sober energy consumption with a lesser GHG footprint while not negatively affecting life styles of future generations. Massive needs for additional energy in emerging regions will have to be met to heed local aspirations for a better life while avoiding catastrophic environmental impacts. A broad survey of possible solutions, both at the production and consumption levels, leads to the conclusion that while technologies are already at hand to make a very real difference, sustained and consistent energy policies are at the core of progress.

"Alternatives for Transportation Energy"
Vernon Roan, former director, Fuel Cell Laboratory, and professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, University of Florida

Current energy consumption for U.S. transportation is not sustainable. Huge quantities of imported petroleum cause many economic problems due to the resulting balance of payments, cause the emission of large amounts of greenhouse gases and threaten our national security. There are no easy short-term fixes to these problems, but it is imperative that we pursue sustainable long-term alternatives. This paper examines some of these alternatives and briefly considers their respective upsides and downsides.

The 2009 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and International Research Conference will also feature poster presentations by hundreds of student researchers and talks by 2009 Sigma Xi Award Winners.

Walston Chubb Award Lecture
Waterway 4, Noon-1:15 p.m., Friday, November 13
"Down to Earth Science: Clay-based Therapy for Mycotoxin Exposure in Humans and Animals"
Timothy Phillips, food safety scientist, Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, Texas A&M University

William Procter Prize Lecture
Waterway 5, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Friday, November 13
Deborah Jin, fellow, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and fellow, JILA, University of Colorado

Young Investigator Award Lecture
Waterway 1-4, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (luncheon), Saturday, November 14
"Molecular Machines that Protect Your DNA"
Brandt F. Eichman, assistant professor of biological sciences and biochemistry, Vanderbilt University

John P. McGovern Award Lecture
Waterway 5, 5:00-6:30 p.m., Saturday November 14
"Scientists and the Regulatory System: Forging a New Relationship"
David Michaels, professor and interim chairman of environmental and occupational health, George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services

Honorary Members Induction
Waterway 4, 7:30-10 p.m. (banquet), Saturday, November 14
Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, hosts of the Mythbusters television series

Sigma Xi Energy Symposium Bios

John Ahearne (Moderator)
John Ahearne was named Executive Director Emeritus of Sigma Xi in recognition of his many contributions to the Society. He served as Sigma Xi Executive Director from 1989-1997 and is Director Emeritus of Sigma Xi's ethics program. His popular ethics booklet, The Responsible Researcher: Paths and Pitfalls (1999), updates and complements Sigma Xi's widely-circulated guidebook, Honor in Science. A member of the National Academy of Engineering and a former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Ahearne has worked for decades on issues of nuclear waste, nuclear reactor safety, nuclear weapons and non-proliferation. He is an Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and was a Lecturer in Public Policy at Duke University. He also is an Adjunct Scholar for Resources for the Future. A physicist, Ahearne has also served as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense and has been active on National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences committees. A past President of the Society for Risk Analysis, he is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was inducted into Sigma Xi in 1964.

Christine A. Ehlig-Economides
Christine Ehlig-Economides is currently full professor of petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University in the Albert B. Stevens endowed chair. She founded the Center for Energy, Environment, and Transportation Innovation (CEETI), one of 4 research centers in the Crisman Institute. She has recently prepared an academic program proposal for Energy Engineering currently in review that will offer MS and PhD degrees at Texas A&M University. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and was a member of the National Academy of Science America's Energy Future Committee. She received a B.A. degree in math-science from Rice University, an M.S. degree in chemical engineering from the University of Kansas, and a Ph.D. degree in petroleum engineering from Stanford University. Ehlig-Economides has received numerous awards from the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Michal Moore
Michal Moore is Senior Fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy at the University of Calgary in Alberta. He is the former Chief Economist at the National Renewable Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, where he lead a research team engaged in examining over-the-horizon issues for the U.S. Department of Energy and developing new methods for cross-cutting analysis. He served as a Commissioner on the California Energy Commission, which regulates new energy generation in the energy industry in California. He directed the commission's $2-billion program to maintain and expand the renewable energy industry in the state and presided over many complex siting cases for new fossil fired generation. Moore is an active researcher in the areas of urban open space and agricultural land conversion, local government fiscal impacts and the structure and rules of energy markets. He participates in a wide variety of public forums, ranging from energy and fiscal policy to land use. Moore received his B.S. in geology at Humboldt State University and M.S. in land economics from the University of California at Davis. He obtained a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Cambridge in England, where he is a member of Darwin College.

Hans B. Püttgen
Hans B. (Teddy) Püttgen holds the Chaire de Gestion des Systčmes Energétiques (Energy Systems Management) at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne - EPFL - (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne). Upon his arrival at EPFL, he also became the inaugural Director of the Energy Center, which coordinates all R&D activities on campus related to energy. Püttgen is a member of the CORE Commission that advises the Swiss Federal Office of Energy on energy issues and funding priorities. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Swiss Competence Center on Energy and Mobility and of the Board of Directors of ElectroSuisse. Püttgen is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Sustainable Energy Systems. Before arriving at EPFL, he was Georgia Power Professor and Vice Chair for External Affairs in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. While there, he launched the National Electric Energy Test, Research and Application Center and served as its Director and Management Board Chair. Until his arrival at EPFL, he served as Président and CEO of Georgia Tech Lorraine, the institute's European campus. A Fellow of IEEE, Püttgen is a past President of the Power Engineering Society of IEEE. He is a member of Sigma Xi, among other honor societies.

Vernon Roan
Vernon Roan is Professor Emeritus of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and former Director of the Fuel Cell Laboratory at the University of Florida. He has been involved in fuel cell development for 20 years. Roan is a past Director of the university's Center for Advanced Studies in Engineering and has served as Graduate Coordinator in the Mechanical Engineering Department. He also directed the Conventional and Alternative Transportation Systems (CATS) Laboratory from 1981-86 and has served as a visiting professor at Brunel University in Uxbridge, England. He was named among the top 100 researchers at the University of Florida three years in a row. Over his distinguished career, Roan has consulted for more than 20 organizations, including Pratt & Whitney, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and DuPont Corporation, mostly in the areas of electric and hybrid vehicles, fuel cell systems and fuels. A Sigma Xi member, he belongs to many professional organizations, including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Society of Automotive Engineers and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in engineering at the University of Florida and his Ph.D. in engineering at the University of Illinois.

About Sigma Xi
Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi is the international honor society of research scientists and engineers, with more than 500 chapters at colleges and universities, government laboratories and industry research centers. Membership is by invitation, in recognition of research potential or achievement. Over the years, more than 200 Sigma Xi members have received the Nobel Prize. In addition to publishing American Scientist, the non-profit society awards hundreds of grants annually to student researchers and sponsors a variety of programs that support science and engineering.


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