Profile: Creating Policy to Protect the Environment | AIChE

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Profile: Creating Policy to Protect the Environment


imagesBorn and raised in rural Maine, Jennifer Wilcox grew up surrounded by wilderness. All around her was a community focused on sustainability. Neighbors used solar power and lived off the land, ever careful about overusing their limited natural resources.

“I was very interested in science and nature as a kid, understanding how things worked, learning about the natural world,” Wilcox says. “I was not necessarily the engineer type that liked to take things apart and put them back together. As a child, I was interested in the complexities of our natural environment — and what I do today, it really does stem from that early age.”

Wilcox was recently appointed as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy at the U.S. Dept. of Energy. A pioneer in carbon capture research, Wilcox hopes to bring unique chemical engineering strategies to the Biden administration, helping the U.S. to minimize the environmental impact of using fossil fuels.

Wilcox has had a colorful life, made fruitful by her enduring tenacity. Everyone is born with something, she says; Wilcox’s “something” is a robust work ethic. In high school, she decided she wanted to attend medical school, so she taught herself...

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