Department of Energy honors Notre Dame professor

Author: William G. Gilroy and Nina Welding

Joan Brennecke

Joan F. Brennecke, the Keating-Crawford Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and director of the University of Notre Dame Energy Center, has been chosen to receive the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award from the United States Department of Energy (DOE).

Presented by the secretary of energy, the Lawrence Award honors scientists and engineers at mid-career for their exceptional contributions in research and development supporting the DOE and its mission to advance the national, economic and energy security of the United States. The award is given in each of the following categories: chemistry, materials research, environmental science and technology, life sciences (including medicine), nuclear technologies (fission and fusion), national security and non-proliferation and high-energy and nuclear physics.

Brennecke, who is being recognized for her work in environmental science and technology, and the other honorees each will receive a citation signed by the secretary, a gold medal bearing the likeness of Lawrence, and a $50,000 honorarium during a ceremony this spring.

Internationally known for her research in the development of solvents, specifically supercritical fluids and ionic liquids, Brennecke’s research interests also include thermodynamics, environmentally benign chemical processing, and carbon dioxide separation, storage and usage.

Throughout her career, Brennecke has received numerous awards for her research, as well as for her contributions in the classroom. Most recently, she was selected as the 2008 Julius Stieglitz Lecturer Award by the American Chemical Society (ACS). She also has received the 2007 John M. Prausnitz Award for outstanding achievement in applied chemical thermodynamics from the Conference on Properties and Phase Equilibria for Product and Process Design, the Professional Progress Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and the 2001 Ipatieff Prize from the ACS in recognition of her high-pressure studies of the local structure of supercritical fluid solutions and the effect of this local structure on the rates of homogeneous reactions. In 1991, the National Science Foundation honored her with the Presidential Young Investigator Award.

A member of AIChE, the ACS and the American Society for Engineering Education, Brennecke is past chair of the Council for Chemical Research and currently serves on the editorial board of the journal Green Chemistry.

A graduate of the University of Texas, Brennecke earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois. She has served as a Notre Dame faculty member since 1989.

Contact: Joan Brennecke,