Burns Named Director of the Center for Sustainable Energy


In a recent announcement made by Robert J. Bernhard, vice president for research at the University of Notre Dame, Peter C. Burns, the Henry J. Massman Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, and concurrent professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been named director of the Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy). Burns, an accomplished researcher and administrator, continues the tradition of strong leadership of the center that was established by Joan F. Brennecke, the Keating-Crawford Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, in 2005.


A member of the center’s executive committee since its founding as a Strategic Research Initiative of the University in 2009, Burns has also served as director of the Department of Energy funded, and recently renewed, Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) Materials Science of Actinides. His research focuses on actinides, the radioactive elements that are the fuels of nuclear energy and major constituents of radioactive nuclear waste. It also examines the nanoscience, mineralogy, geochemistry and chemistry of this complex group of elements, with an emphasis on improving nuclear energy cycles and addressing environmental contamination arising from the nuclear fuel cycle and former nuclear weapons production in the United States and elsewhere. Prior to serving as director of the EFRC, Burns served as the chair of his department form 2002 to 2009.

Brennecke, Joan

“Moving forward, ND Energy will continue to build upon the considerable successes achieved thus far, to grow the center in breadth and depth. Over the coming months and years, Burns, participating faculty (who come from across the University), and the ND Energy staff will work to develop a University-wide strategy for supporting and developing research and educational endeavors across the broad spectrum of energy studies,” said Bernhard, who also acknowledged that the continued development of the center would not be possible without Brennecke’s selfless efforts the last 10 years to build a community of energy researchers, develop shared facilities, recruit new faculty to the University and establish an energy studies minor at Notre Dame.

Burns will be joined by Ginger E. Sigmon, who has been named the managing director of ND Energy. She holds bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and geology from North Carolina State University and a doctorate in actinide materials from Notre Dame. Sigmon will also continue to serve as the managing director of the EFRC.