University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Mary Poulton was in Washington, D.C., this summer to deliver a President's Distinguished Lecture to an audience of UA and College of Engineering alumni, and to meet with Members of Congress and representatives of the White House.
The topic of Poulton's lecture, "Rare Earths and Mineral Resources: The UA's Contribution to Solving Global Mineral Resource Challenges," was highly topical, being the subject of a major new U.S. Department of Energy initiative: a $120 million Energy Innovation Hub for Critical Materials Research.
Poulton, who is head of the UA mining and geological engineering department and director of the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources, is leading a UA team to compete for this new initiative. "The UA and the Institute of Mineral Resources have tremendous expertise in the area of critical minerals," Poulton said in her talk.
The lecture series started in March 2012 and is sponsored by UA President Eugene G. Sander, the UA Office of Federal Relations, the Arizona Alumni Association, and the "Capitol Cats" alumni chapter in Washington, D.C.
The objective of the lecture series is to bring internationally recognized UA professors and researchers to Washington, D.C., to share their knowledge and research on scientific topics that will play a crucial role in the future of society. The talks are also designed to increase the UA's profile in Washington, D.C., with U.S. funding agencies, the U.S. Congress, and UA alumni, donors and friends in the D.C. area.
The inaugural lecture, in March 2012, was presented by another UA Engineering faculty member, Kimberly Ogden, a professor of chemical and environmental engineering who is the engineering technical lead and the UA's principal investigator for the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts, a consortium of universities and research institutions awarded $44 million by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop commercial algal biofuels.
Poulton met with officials from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and is coordinating a visit by them to the University of Arizona, with help from Shay D. Stautz, the UA's associate vice president for federal relations.
Before the lecture, Poulton and Stautz had numerous meetings on Capitol Hill, including with the offices of U.S. Representatives Pastor, Quayle, Grijalva and Gosar, and Senator Jon Kyl, to advocate for the nation's investment in mineral resources research.
"Dr. Poulton," Stautz noted, "who has served on no less than four National Research Council committees, including coauthoring its study on critical minerals, directs interdisciplinary research in mineral resources across 17 disciplines at the UA and with 14 universities across the world."
"She is a perfect example of the expertise and excellence at the University of Arizona that we have to bring to the attention of the U.S. Government as it tackles national priorities like critical minerals," Stautz added. "And also why she was awarded the Distinguished Lecture Series event in D.C."
The critical materials hub will be the fifth energy innovation hub established by the Department of Energy since 2010. The other hubs are:
The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, which focuses on research to produce fuels directly from sunlight.
The Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors, which is seeking to improve nuclear reactors through computer-based modeling and simulation.
The Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings, which is working to achieve breakthroughs in energy-efficient building design.
A Batteries and Energy Storage Innovation Hub has also been announced.
UA News story: UA Scientists Bring Research Messages to Washington, D.C.
Department of Energy press release: Energy Department Announces Launch of Energy Innovation Hub for Critical Materials Research
UA President's Distinguished Lecture Series
All lectures are presented at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
Feb. 7, 2012: UA's Leadership Role in Solar System Exploration: The Osiris-Rex Asteroid Sample Return Mission, by Dante Lauretta, associate professor in the department of planetary sciences' Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, and principal investigator for the $800 million Osiris-Rex mission.
March 6, 2012: Biofuels Research at the UA: Algae and Sweet Sorghum, by Kim Ogden, professor in the chemical and environmental engineering department, and principal UA investigator for the NAABB algal biofuels consortium.
April 17, 2012: UA and the Frontiers of Science, by Joaquin Ruiz, executive dean of the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science; introduced by UA President Eugene G. Sander and Melinda Burke, president and executive director of the UA Alumni Association.
May 3, 2012: Frontiers of Optics at the University of Arizona, by Tom Koch, dean of the College of Optical Sciences; and Photonics and its Applications, by professor Nasser Peyghambarian, chair of photonics and lasers in the College of Optical Sciences.
June 7, 2012: Rare Earths and Mineral Resources: The UA's Contributions to Solving Global Mineral Resource Challenges, by University Distinguished Professor Mary Poulton, mining and geological engineering department head and director of the Institute for Mineral Resources.
July 12, 2012: Two Threats to Democracy: Terrorist Networks and Political Incivility, by Brint Milward, director of the School of Government and Public Policy and director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse; introduced by JP Jones, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Sept. 11, 2012: Crisis and Reform in American Education: The University of Arizona's Contributions to Educational Improvement, by Ron Marx, dean of the College of Education.
Oct. 4 and Dec. 6, 2012: to be announced; for information, contact Shay D. Stautz in the Office of Federal Relations at 520.621.3108, or go to https://my.arizonaalumni.com/uacommunity/speaker_series.