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Resnick Institute Launches Postdoctural Program to Support Big Leaps in Sustainability Science


At Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute some of the world’s best young scientists have begun their postdoctoral fellowships to develop ideas that could have transformational impact on the earth’s environment over the long term. This is the first class of Resnick Institute Postdoctoral Fellows.

“We support postdocs because our future is at stake,” said Prof. Harry A. Atwater, director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute and Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics at Caltech. “This program is designed to support scientists whose important fundamental research ideas for sustainability need continued development. This work can create the pipeline for transformational commercial ventures. It’s critical to encourage this kind of thinking at universities like Caltech, since this work is often pre-commercial and there is no venture capital or commercial funding for very long term ideas in this area.”

The scientists in this first class of Resnick Institute Postdoctoral Fellows are focused on:

  • Highly efficient, low cost solar energy: Using the most advanced science, developing new materials and structures to drastically increase the efficiency of low-cost solar cells.

  • Solar energy that can be used at any time of night or day: Developing a system of materials that can effectively convert sunlight and CO2 to fuel that can be used at any time of day

  • Environmentally safe specialty chemicals. Using enzymes and agricultural waste instead of toxic metals.
  • Highly efficient fuel cells that operate at mid-range temperatures, which has cost and safety benefits.

Over the coming year, each of the Fellows will work in their respective fields with a Caltech sponsor to experiment and develop these concepts into potentially transformative technologies.

These four fellows were chosen from applicants from around the world. Please visit our fellowships webpage for more information about the Resnick Institute Postdoctoral Fellows program

Concluded Dr. Atwater: “Finding ways to encourage exploration of important ideas, without the pressure to be profitable immediately is at the core of our work. It often leads to potentially important commercial ventures.”

Meet the 2014 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholars

About The Resnick Sustainability Institute

The Resnick Sustainability Institute is the Caltech’s studio focused on those breakthroughs that can positively alter the sustainability of our world. It marries bold creativity and deep scientific knowledge to encourage orthogonal thinking and original ideas. The Institute works with some of the world’s top and emerging scientists – both at Caltech and beyond. Current projects include research into energy generation—such as advanced photovoltaics, photoelectrochemical solar fuels, and cellulosic biofuels; energy conversion work on batteries and fuel cells; and energy efficiency and management such as fuel efficient vehicles, green chemical synthesis, thermoelectric materials, and advanced research on electrical grid control and distribution.

About Caltech

Caltech is a world-renowned research and education institution focused on science and engineering, where faculty and students pursue new knowledge about our world and search for the kinds of bold and innovative advances that will transform our future.

The scientific, engineering, and technological contributions of Caltech's faculty and alumni have earned national and international recognition, including 33 Nobel Prizes. Caltech's 300 professorial faculty members offer a rigorous science and engineering curriculum to approximately 1,000 undergraduates and 1,300 graduate students, providing one of the nation's lowest student-to-faculty ratios.

Caltech's 124-acre campus is located in Pasadena, California. The Institute manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA, and owns and operates large-scale research facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and a global network of astronomical observatories that includes the Palomar Observatory and the W. M. Keck Observatory. Caltech is an independent, privately supported institution.