Top Solar Researcher Joins University of Wyoming Energy School Faculty

March 27, 2008
Bruce Alan Parkinson

Bruce Alan Parkinson, recognized internationally as a leading researcher in harnessing solar energy, is a new distinguished professor of chemistry in the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources (SER).

Currently a professor who leads a photoelectrochemical research group at Colorado State University, Parkinson fills one of 12 distinguished faculty positions in the SER. Each of the distinguished faculty members will hold appointments in various UW departments and will teach interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate courses in energy-related fields.

Parkinson's presence elevates UW to the international forefront of solar energy and photovoltaic research, says Edward Clennan, head of the UW Department of Chemistry.

"He is a valuable person to have on the faculty; his presence on campus will attract top young scientists to Wyoming, knowing that we have the infrastructure to do cutting-edge research in both solar energy and in adding value to the state's fossil fuels," Clennan says.

Clennan explains that in addition to his preeminence in using photovoltaic technologies to efficiently convert solar energy into useable energy forms, Parkinson is also well known for his research findings in surface chemistry, specifically in removing sulphur from fossil fuels.

"As we increasingly rely on fossil fuels with high sulphur content, the release of sulphur into the atmosphere is of great concern," Clennan says. "So learning how to remove sulphur before using fuels such as coal is extremely important. Professor Parkinson will complement and strengthen the expertise that UW now has in these areas."

Parkinson, who will give a series of lectures at UW this summer before formally joining the faculty next fall, says joining the Department of Chemistry and the SER is an "exciting opportunity."

"Energy research is at a pivotal point and the School of Energy Resources is emerging as a major player," he says. "I look forward to relocating my solar energy teaching, outreach and research programs to the University of Wyoming. Solar energy is the only sustainable energy source capable of meeting the world's rapidly growing energy demand."

A professor at CSU since 1991, Parkinson was a research chemist for DuPont Central Research and Development from 1985-1991. Before that, he was a senior scientist at the Solar Energy Research Institute for four years. He received a B.S. degree (1972) in chemistry at Iowa State University, and earned a Ph.D. in chemistry (1977) at California Institute of Technology.

He is the author of more than 140 publications in professional journals, and holds four U.S. patents. Parkinson's research has been funded by several agencies including the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation, and he is a consultant and reviewer for many private companies and government agencies.

The Wyoming State Legislature authorized hiring of 12 faculty members with national or international expertise in disciplines including applied mathematics; energy economics; geophysics; coal conversion technology; chemistry; senior petroleum engineering; energy economics; geophysics; coal process engineering; arid lands reclamation ecology; and wind energy.

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