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February 27, 2007

Benson named executive director of Global Climate and Energy Project

By Maxine Lym

Sally Benson, a staff scientist and former deputy director for operations at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been named to the newly created position of executive director of the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP). The project aims to foster the development of global energy solutions that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"I am very excited to be joining the GCEP team," Benson said. "Capturing the imagination and ingenuity of some of the world's leading scientists to address one of the most daunting challenges we face on this planet is a tremendous opportunity. GCEP is leading the way in tackling the fundamental technical issues that need to be addressed in meeting this challenge."

Benson will begin her new duties on March 1. She will report directly to Project Director Franklin M. Orr Jr. and will guide the development of GCEP's diverse research portfolio, which currently includes efforts in solar, biomass, hydrogen, advanced combustion, carbon capture and storage, advanced materials and catalysts, advanced coal, and advanced transportation.

"I am delighted that Sally will be joining GCEP in a key leadership position," Orr said. "She is an internationally recognized leader in research to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and her outstanding research management skills and extensive background in the subject areas covered by GCEP will be extremely valuable as we continue to expand our efforts."

A groundwater hydrologist and reservoir engineer, Benson has conducted research in a range of areas from geothermal energy to groundwater cleanup. She will join Stanford's research faculty in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering in the School of Earth Sciences, where she will lead efforts to study mechanisms by which carbon dioxide can be trapped in underground formations.

"Dr. Benson brings tremendous experience and savvy to this position," said Earth Sciences Dean Pamela Matson. "She joins us at a time when energy and environmental research is recognized by this university as being of critical importance to the world."

Prior to completing a four-year term as deputy director at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2004, Benson served as LBNL's associate director for energy sciences and as director of its Earth Sciences Division.

She graduated from Barnard College at Columbia University in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in geology. She completed her graduate education in 1988 at the University of California-Berkeley after receiving master's and doctoral degrees, both in materials science and mineral engineering.

A member of the American Geophysical Union and the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Benson has served on numerous committees including the Stanford University Earth Sciences Advisory Board. She is author or co-author of more than 160 scientific publications.

Based at Stanford University, GCEP is a collaborative effort of the scientific and engineering communities at academic research institutions and in industry. The GCEP sponsors—ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger and Toyota—intend to invest $225 million over a decade or more in the project.

"In Dr. Sally Benson, GCEP has found a highly respected scientist who will play a crucial role in the project," said Sherri Stuewer, chair of the GCEP Management Committee and vice president of safety, health and environment at ExxonMobil. "The GCEP sponsors look forward to working with her as GCEP continues to build its portfolio of research to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Maxine Lym is communications manager for GCEP.

Editor Note:

Photos of Benson and Orr are on the web at



Maxine Lym, Global Climate and Energy Project: (650) 725-3228,


Sally Benson, Global Climate and Energy Project: (650) 724-6740,

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