Alissa Park named dean of UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

Leading expert on carbon capture and conversion technology comes to UCLA from Columbia University

Sean Brenner | June 20, 2023

Ah-Hyung “Alissa” Park has been named the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. Her appointment will begin Sept. 1.

Park, one of the nation’s leading experts on carbon capture and conversion technology, is currently the Lenfest Earth Institute Professor of Climate Change and chair of the department of earth and environmental engineering at Columbia University, where she has been a faculty member since 2007. She also is director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, an executive committee member of The Earth Institute and Columbia Climate School, and a member of Columbia’s department of chemical engineering.

“Chancellor Block and I are confident that under Alissa’s visionary leadership, UCLA Samueli will make even greater strides in advancing engineering education and research for the benefit of our society,” Darnell Hunt, UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost, wrote in a message to the campus.

At Columbia, Park created highly interdisciplinary research and educational programs in sustainable energy and decarbonization, including the CarbonTech Development Initiative for translational decarbonization research, a collaboration between the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy and the Center on Global Energy Policy. She also substantially improved the diversity of the faculty and student bodies within her units, and she led efforts to achieve a cultural shift toward equity, inclusion and respect.

She has been active in a collaboration with UN Women, a United Nations initiative, on a project supporting entrepreneurship in sustainable energy in developing countries, as well as with Columbia’s Women in Energy initiative.

“I am deeply humbled and also excited to serve as the next dean of engineering at UCLA, a world-class public university,” Park said. “It is an exciting and critical time for engineering and computer science as we focus on addressing many grand challenges and opportunities with tremendous social impact such as climate change, pandemics and artificial intelligence.

“I am thrilled to work with all of the members of our exceptional and diverse community — faculty, students, staff, alumni and other colleagues — to engineer change for a better future, by design, for all.”

Park’s research focuses on sustainable energy and materials conversion pathways with an emphasis on using integrated carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies to address climate change. Her research group also is investigating direct air capture of carbon dioxide and negative emission technologies, including bioenergy with carbon capture and storage and sustainable construction materials with low carbon intensity.

In 2016, she co-founded GreenOre CleanTech, which turns the hard-to-decarbonize industrial sector’s solid wastes and carbon emissions into value-added products such as carbon-negative building materials while recovering energy-relevant critical minerals.

Park earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical and biological engineering from the University of British Columbia, and a doctorate in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Ohio State University. In 2021, she received Ohio State’s distinguished alumni award for academic excellence.

Park is a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, known as AIChE, as well as the American Chemical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is also a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Committee on Carbon Utilization Infrastructure, Markets, Research and Development.

Among her numerous awards and honors are AIChE Particle Technology Forum’s Shell Thomas Baron Award in Fluid-Particle Systems, a U.S. C3E Research Award, AIChE PTF’s PSRI Lectureship Award, Columbia University’s Janette and Armen Avanessians Diversity Award, an American Chemical Society WCC Rising Star Award and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. She is a member of numerous editorial and advisory boards, and has led a number of global and national discussions on carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies, including the 2019 National Petroleum Council CCUS Report and the 2017 Mission Innovation Workshop on Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage.

Bruce Dunn, a distinguished professor and UCLA Engineering’s former associate dean for research and physical resources, has served as the school’s interim dean since August 2022.

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