Sally M. Benson
Co-Director, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University
Sally M. Benson joined Stanford University in 2007. She holds three appointments at Stanford: professor of energy resources engineering in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; co-director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, the campus-wide hub of energy research and education; and director of the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), a pioneering university-industry partnership to develop innovative, low-carbon energy supplies to meet global energy needs. An internationally recognized scientist with extensive management experience, Professor Benson is responsible for fostering cross-campus collaborations on energy through the Precourt Institute and guiding the growth and development of GCEP's diverse research portfolio.
A groundwater hydrologist and reservoir engineer, Professor Benson is widely regarded as a leading authority on carbon capture and storage and emerging energy technologies. In 2012, she served as a convening lead author of the Global Energy Assessment (GEA), a multinational project coordinated by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. The GEA was the first fully integrated assessment that analyzed energy challenges, opportunities and strategies for developing, industrialized and emerging economies. The final GEA report presents a new global energy policy agenda, one that transforms the way society thinks about, uses and delivers energy.
Professor Benson's research interests include technologies for a low-carbon future and net energy analysis, a scientific method that weighs the energetic cost of energy production against the energy produced, with the goal of quantifying the overall energy efficiency of the production process. She and her GCEP colleagues conducted a groundbreaking series of net energy analyses calculating the energetic costs of wind turbines, solar photovoltaics and grid-scale renewable energy storage. Professor Benson also leads a research laboratory at Stanford that studies fundamental aspects of geologic carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration in saline aquifers. In 2005, she served as a coordinating lead author of a special report on CO2 capture and storage published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Professor Benson contributed to the reports of the IPCC, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.