March 08, 2016

Inaugural ‘SIU Energy Day’ set for April 6

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Two high-ranking federal energy officials will split keynote speaker duties at a daylong energy conference at Southern Illinois University Carbondale next month. 

The first SIU Energy Day is set for April 6 at the Student Center. The event, envisioned by organizers as the first of what will become an annual event, will feature speakers, panel discussions and a research exposition. It is organized by the Advanced Coal and Energy Research Center at SIU. 

Tomasz Wiltowski, professor of mechanical engineering and energy processes and director of ACERC, said the center is organizing the event as part of its role as a leader in energy. 

“Energy is important everywhere and this event will raise our profile and SIU’s profile,” Wiltowski said. “This will be helpful in many ways to our good reputations, and it will help us in our mission to find energy solutions for the future.” 

Peter B. Littlewood, director of Argonne National Laboratory, will kick off the day at 10 as the morning keynote speaker. Christopher Smith, who serves as assistant secretary for fossil energy at the U. S. Department of Energy, will give the afternoon keynote at 1. 

Littlewood leads one of the nation’s largest science and engineering research centers, and is a professor of physics in the James Franck Institute at the University of Chicago. He came to Argonne in 2011 after being appointed associate laboratory director of Argonne's Physical Sciences and Engineering directorate. It focuses on discovery science across a broad range of disciplines, and on creating and understanding new materials and chemistries that address challenges in energy and the environment. 

Prior to that, Littlewood spent 14 years at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, where he last served as the head of the Cavendish Laboratory and the Department of Physics.  He started his career at Bell Laboratories, beginning in 1980 as a postdoctoral member of the technical staff and later becoming head of theoretical physics research. 

An internationally respected scientist who holds six patents, Littlewood has published more than 200 articles in scientific journals and has given more than 200 invited talks at international conferences, universities and laboratories. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of London, the Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society, and is an associate member of The World Academy of Sciences. He earned his bachelor's degree in natural sciences (physics) and his doctorate in physics both at the University of Cambridge. 

Smith was sworn into office in December 2014 after President Obama nominated him for the position in November 2013.  As assistant secretary, Smith leads the energy department’s Office of Fossil Energy, which includes scientists and engineers working at 11 sites across the country.  He oversees fossil energy research and development and the National Energy Technology Laboratory.  He is also responsible for the U.S. Petroleum Reserves, the largest strategic petroleum stockpile in the world. 

Prior to his confirmation, Smith served as principal deputy assistant secretary for fossil energy and as deputy assistant secretary for oil and natural gas. During that tenure, he served as the designated federal official for the national commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, established by President Obama to investigate the root causes of that incident. 

Smith previously served in managerial and analytical positions in the private sector, including 11 years with two major international oil companies focused primarily on upstream business development and LNG trading, including three years negotiating production and transportation agreements in Colombia. 

He began his career as an officer in the U. S. Army and served tours in Korea and Hawaii. Subsequently, Smith worked for Citibank and JPMorgan in New York City and London in the area of emerging markets and currency derivatives. He holds a bachelor's degree in engineering management from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Cambridge.

Smith's talk is co-sponsored by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.  

Organizers also plan a panel discussion on utilizing carbon dioxide for the market and for research. The discussion, which begins at 11 a.m. in the Student Center Auditorium, includes Wiltowski, along with Kevin O’Brien, director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, and John Caupert, director of the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center. 

The research exposition will feature posters and presentations by SIU faculty and students, including the ACERC Energy Boost scholars, John Lindt, a freshman in microbiology, and Kelby Rogers, a senior in mechanical engineering and energy processes. 

You can register for the event here.