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Dionne and Kanan become co-directors of Stanford’s TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy

Jennifer Dionne and Matthew Kanan are taking over the leadership of Stanford University’s TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy, Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy announced August 28.

Professors Jennifer Dionne and Matthew Kanan named TomKat Center co-directors.

“Matt and Jen are stars in energy research. It’s been great to watch their research trajectories on campus over the past ten years,” said Stanford’s vice provost and dean of research, Kam Moler. “Now they will enthusiastically lead TomKat to create solutions for one of our most urgent challenges.”

TomKat Center founding director Stacey Bent will become Stanford’s vice provost for graduate education and postdoctoral affairs on September 1, as the university announced in May. A professor of chemical engineering, Bent steps down from her TomKat role and that of senior associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the School of Engineering to fulfill her new responsibilities.

"Under Stacey's leadership, the TomKat Center has created an invaluable set of programs for students and faculty alike,” said Sally Benson, co-director with Arun Majumdar of the Precourt Institute.

“TomKat's programs spurred a huge step-change in innovation culture of the energy and sustainability community," added Benson, professor of energy resources engineering.

Dionne, an associate professor of materials science, develops methods to directly image and control dynamic nanoscale processes, such as optical energy conversion and storage.  Kanan, associate professor of chemistry, develops new catalysts and chemical reactions for applications in renewable energy and utilization of captured carbon-dioxide.

"We are thrilled to have not one, but two outstanding faculty who will be jointly leading the TomKat Center,” said Majumdar, professor of mechanical engineering and of photon science. “Matt brings more than a decade of experience in using CO2 to make products like sustainable fuel and plastic. Jen is a foremost researcher in nanophotonics, using tailored light-matter interactions at the nanoscale to enable high-efficiency photovoltaics and photocatalysis."

Since its founding in 2009, the TomKat Center has funded 33 early-stage research projects for $7.6 million involving 50 faculty members. TomKat’s Innovation Transfer Program, started in 2013, has awarded $4.1 million to help 156 Stanford faculty, students and staff begin to move their inventions toward commercialization, resulting in $210 million in follow-on funding, and startups employing almost 600 people and generating more than $50 million in annual revenue. The center also supports education through two-year postdoctoral fellowships, summer internships at associated startups, research fellowships for undergraduates, and grants to support experiential education. The center was established in 2009 with a gift from Stanford alumni Kat Taylor and Tom Steyer.

“TomKat is a flagship of energy innovation on campus and in the broader community, with programs that support cutting-edge research, education, and technology transfer,” said Dionne. “Matt and I are honored to succeed Stacey in directing such a productive, dynamic program.”

“The center is a tremendous resource for people across campus who want to create solutions to energy and environmental problems,” added Kanan. “The opportunity to build on its success and explore new ways to help students and researchers translate their ideas into products is really exciting.”

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