May 12, 2008

U.S. energy secretary names Mead to coal board

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A researcher at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is part of an elite group with access to the U.S. Secretary of Energy's ear.

John Mead, director of the Coal Extraction and Utilization Research Center at SIUC, recently joined the National Coal Board. The organization advises the secretary of energy on national matters related to coal, coal programs and policies. Mead is one of about 100 members, all appointed by Secretary of Energy Samuel Wright Bodman.

The appointment will see Mead attending meetings several times a year in Washington D.C., where the group will consider coal's role in the nation's energy policy and research priorities. Mead said he is excited about his new role.

"My reaction was a sense of challenge and responsibility as a representative of our region and a voice for University research and development," Mead said. "I hope I can work to promote the role of research in federal energy activities. I believe such advocacy can advance SIUC's profile as a research university."

As director of the coal research center since 1989, Mead coordinates faculty research and development efforts and related environmental studies. He also oversees pilot and demonstration-scale projects at the Illinois Coal Development Research Park in Carterville. The coal research center also supports the Clean Coal Review Board Program, which is aimed at encouraging leading-edge clean coal technologies and their application.

Before coming to SIUC, Mead worked for the Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources, specializing in coal and energy issues. He also worked for the Energy Resources Commission. A graduate of Indiana University, Mead earned a law degree at the University of Illinois.