Article by Nicole Escarra
The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering recently announced that Daniel Shantz has been selected as the Entergy Chair of Clean Energy Engineering. Shantz, whose background includes experience in both corporate and academic research settings, shared that there were a number of reasons behind his decision to join the Green Wave faculty.
“Tulane has an outstanding reputation as a research university, and it is clear that the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department is stellar. Additionally, the combination of location, since the Gulf Coast area is so prominent in energy-related areas, as well as the support of an industrial partner like Entergy, made me think that this position was ideal in many ways,” said Shantz.
The appointment of Shantz to the Entergy Chair is an exciting development for the School of Science and Engineering particularly in light of its ten-year strategic plan.
“One of the cross-cutting themes in the strategic plan is energy, the environment, and sustainability,” explained Dean Nicholas Altiero. “This chair clearly fits in with that priority.”
As the title suggests, the Entergy Chair of Clean Energy Engineering will focus on researching sustainable energy production. This is a priority, not only for Tulane, but also for Entergy, the company supporting the chair’s endowment.
Don Vinci, Entergy’s Senior Vice President for Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer, described the motivation behind Entergy’s partnership with Tulane.
“First, education is one of Entergy’s main philanthropic thrusts as an organization. In addition to that, we are, as a company, committed to clean energy. Southeast Louisiana faces a number of challenges that impact Entergy’s infrastructure, and academic research can help Entergy address those concerns and balance its portfolio with clean energy sources.”
Shantz is enthusiastic about Entergy’s prioritization of clean energy.
“There are numerous opportunities for reducing the carbon footprint of the petrochemical and energy production sectors, in both the short and long-term,” said Shantz. “And endowed positions are really critical, as they give someone like me the opportunity to explore and think about things in a new way. Entergy’s support will allow me to approach high-level, long-standing challenges in energy production.”
Prior to coming to Tulane in July 2014, Shantz served in leadership positions in both industrial and academic research settings. For the past two years, Shantz worked with SABIC, most recently as a Senior Manager in the Corporate Research and Innovation Future Feedstocks group. Before joining SABIC, Shantz held the Ray Nesbitt Professorship in the Chemical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University.
His background in industry and academic settings has given him a unique perspective. Anne Skaja Robinson, the chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, believes that Shantz’s blend of experiences will be a tremendous asset to the university and its students.
“When you can talk with students and show them what is going on in industry, in terms of current projects and research, that perspective offers the insight that undergrads are looking for,” said Robinson.
Robinson also described some of the traits that made Shantz the best choice for the Entergy Chair position.
“Past colleagues talk about Dan as raising the success level of the people with whom he works and improving the quality of research all around him,” said Robinson. “As his research grows, we would like to locate multiple faculty members alongside him in Flower Hall, with the idea that closer proximity and greater collaboration go hand in hand.”
Shantz also emphasized the importance of collaboration, highlighting the role that partnerships between universities and industry play in connecting academic studies to real world issues, especially in the chemical and biomolecular sectors.
“Over half of the graduates from Tulane’s chemical engineering program go on to work in the chemical, petrochemical, and semiconductor sectors. Given that universities are student-driven enterprises, it is essential for faculty to give students the training they will need to solve the issues faced in industry,” said Shantz.
Although Shantz enjoyed his own time in industry, he acknowledged that there was a definite pull to return to academia. Now that he is at Tulane, Shantz is eager to build connections between his research and that of his colleagues and emphasized his enthusiasm for having joined the university.
“I’m grateful to Tulane and Entergy for their support in this new role,” said Shantz. “And I’m thrilled to be here at Tulane and look forward to contributing to the continued success and growth of the university.”
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