Jennifer Wilcox is Presidential Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, with a home at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. At Penn, she oversees the Clean Energy Conversions Lab.

Wilcox is also a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, where she leverages her expertise to help accelerate policy support and investments in research, development, and deployment of industrial decarbonization and carbon removal solutions in order to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Most recently, Wilcox served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management at the Department of Energy. Before coming to Penn, she was the James H. Manning Chaired Professor of Chemical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Wilcox’s research takes aim at the nexus of energy and the environment, developing both mitigation and adaptation strategies to minimize negative climate impacts associated with society’s dependence on fossil fuels. This work carefully examines the role of carbon management and opportunities therein that could assist in preventing 2° C warming by 2100. Carbon management includes a mix of technologies spanning from the direct removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to its capture from industrial, utility-scale exhaust streams, followed by utilization or reliable storage of carbon dioxide on a timescale and magnitude that will have a positive impact on our current climate change crisis.

Funding for her research is primarily sourced through the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and the private sector. She has served on a number of committees including the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society to assess carbon capture methods and impacts on climate. She is currently a member of the Energy & Environmental Science Journal Editorial Board. She is the author of the first textbook on carbon capture and, most recently, the CDR Primer. In 2023, she was named one of the TIME 100 Climate.

Having grown up in rural Maine, Wilcox has a profound respect and appreciation of nature, which permeates her work as she focuses on minimizing negative impacts of humankind on our natural environment.

“Although my work involves removing carbon dioxide from air, it doesn’t mean that it’s a silver bullet. We need a portfolio of solutions. And we need to start treating CO2 as a waste and figure out solutions to deal with it.”

Jennifer Wilcox