Arun Majumdar named inaugural dean of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability
A professor of mechanical engineering and former co-director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, Majumdar has expertise in energy solutions and policies through his research on sustainable grid technologies and his experience in both industry and government.
Arun Majumdar, an internationally recognized expert in advanced energy systems, new materials, electrical grids, and renewable energy, will be the inaugural dean of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability. The school launches Sept. 1, 2022.
Majumdar is the Jay Precourt Professor, professor of mechanical engineering, senior fellow and former co-director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he co-chairs the George Shultz Energy and Climate Task Force. He joined Stanford in 2014 after a career that spanned academic research and experience in industry, national laboratories, and government, where he led efforts implementing energy technology initiatives that included being founding director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). Majumdar currently serves as the chair of the advisory board to the U.S. Secretary of Energy.
Majumdar will assume his new position June 15. At that time Kathryn “Kam” Moler, who has been transition dean of the school since December 2021 and has co-led the transition since May 2020, will resume her role as vice provost and dean of research, a role she has held since 2018. Stephan Graham, who has been serving as transition vice dean, will continue his role as the dean of the School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) until the school stops operating September 1. The people, research, and academic programs of Stanford Earth will become part of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability.
“I’m thrilled that Arun Majumdar has agreed to take on this critical role,” said Stanford Provost Persis Drell, who led an international search to identify an inaugural dean who is an eminent scholar and can advance the school’s focus on impact. “He has the respect of the entire Stanford community for his leadership and deep expertise in sustainable energy solutions. As we develop and launch this new school we will benefit from Arun’s knowledge of energy technology and his connections with potential partners who can help us scale novel solutions. I also want to thank Kam Moler and Stephan Graham for their visionary leadership over the past two years working with faculty, students, staff, and external stakeholders to create a school that addresses urgent sustainability challenges facing the planet.”
Majumdar co-chaired the President’s Faculty Committee on the Organizational Structure for Stanford’s Sustainability Initiative, which led to the decision to form a school. That committee also created the framework for what has become the Sustainability Accelerator, a central part of the school’s focus on impact. The accelerator will drive policy and technology solutions and scale them through collaboration with public, private, and social sector partners.
“I am delighted that Arun is willing to serve as inaugural dean of the Doerr School of Sustainability,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “This new school is a critical part of Stanford’s focus on amplifying our impact in the world. He is an accomplished scholar who appreciates the importance of fundamental research to generate knowledge with transformative potential. And his exceptional leadership skills along with his deep experience in both industry and government will help the school have immediate impact in the world.”
Majumdar’s research career has included the science and engineering of nanoscale materials and devices, especially in the areas of energy conversion, transport, and storage as well as biomolecular analysis. In the last decade he turned his attention to developing chemical reactions for a sustainable energy future, state-of-the-art energy grids to support a transition to renewable energy, and increased electrification of homes and transportation. Improving the ability to transport electricity when and where it’s needed is critical for reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with carbon-based energy sources. Advanced grid technologies could also benefit developing countries transitioning to renewable energy as they extend electricity to all the world’s people. His research accomplishments have earned him membership in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.S. National Academy of Engineering, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
“I am deeply honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve as the inaugural dean,” said Majumdar “Building on the extraordinary leadership of Kam Moler and Steve Graham, we will not only harness the intellectual horsepower of our students, faculty, and staff across our campus, but we will also partner with external organizations around the world to co-develop innovative solutions and identify new insights through research and education. As is often said, we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. We must collectively figure out how to create a future where humans and nature thrive together.”
In addition to his academic research, Majumdar brings experience in both government and industry. Between 2009 and 2012 he served as founding director of ARPA-E, a division of the U.S. Department of Energy. Between March 2011 and June 2012, he also served as the acting under secretary of energy, enabling the portfolio of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Electricity Delivery and Reliability, Office of Nuclear Energy, and Office of Fossil Energy, as well as initiating multiple cross-cutting efforts such as Sunshot and the Grid Modernization Team. He was also senior advisor to the secretary of energy, Steven Chu, on a variety of matters related to management, personnel, budget, and policy, including serving on Chu’s Science Team to help stop the leak of the Deep Water Horizon (BP) oil spill.
Majumdar led the Agency Review Team for the Department of Energy, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Biden-Harris presidential transition. He served as the vice chairman of the advisory board to U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, and was also a science envoy for the U.S. Department of State with focus on energy and technology innovation in the Baltics and Poland. He also serves on several advisory boards and boards of businesses, investment groups, and nonprofit organizations.
After leaving Washington, D.C., and before joining Stanford, Majumdar was the vice president for energy at Google, where he assembled a team to create technologies and businesses at the intersection of data, computing, and electricity grid.
“I am really thrilled that Arun has agreed to be the inaugural dean,” Moler said. “He has the expertise and connections in government and industry that will make him incredibly successful in leading this new school. It has been an honor working with Steve Graham and the entire transition team over the past two years. The new school has an amazing community of dedicated faculty, students, and staff. Now I’m excited to see Arun and the entire new school community succeed in creating a more sustainable world for all people.”