Engineering’s Gonzalez named director of Energy and Environment Initiative

Ramon Gonzalez, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, has been named director of Rice’s Energy and Environment Initiative.

Ramon Gonzalez

Ramon Gonzalez

The initiative was founded in 2012 to support interdisciplinary research collaborations among Rice faculty members and to partner with the energy industry, government, nongovernmental organizations and private citizens.

“Our goal is to make Rice a hub for transformational research in the energy industry,” said Gonzalez, who is also director of the Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic & Systems Biology Laboratory at Rice. “We are in the right geographical location, we have world-class researchers and we continue to build connections with industry to target relevant innovations. Commercialization is the ultimate version of relevance.”

Along with Charles McConnell, who joined the Energy and Environment Initiative as the executive director in 2013, Gonzalez will direct faculty and program development for the initiative among various Rice disciplines, including engineering, science, computational mathematics, business, public policy and the humanities. In particular, the initiative focuses on the impact of fossil energy on security, affordability and environmental responsibility.

Rice researchers already conduct more than $40 million in energy-related work annually. In addition, Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy is an internationally recognized leader in energy economics and policy.

“Engineers have learned to keep an eye on economic viability, which is a big part of sustainability,” Gonzalez said. “If we make money, we make sustainability.”

Gonzalez earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Chile in 2001 and joined the Rice faculty in 2005. The long-term goal of his lab’s research is development of biological platforms for the sustainable production of chemicals and fuels.

—Patrick Kurp is a science writer in the George R. Brown School of Engineering.


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