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UW Professor and Clean Energy Institute Director

 Daniel Schwartz Wins Highest U.S. Award for STEM Mentors 

Newswise — Seattle, WA (June 28, 2018)Daniel Schwartz, University of Washington (UW) Boeing-Sutter Professor of Chemical Engineering and Clean Energy Institute Director, received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) this week. OSTP and NSF recognized Schwartz for his commitment to interdisciplinary graduate education that helps students apply their research to societal and market needs, along with his dedication to recruiting and supporting Native American STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) scholars at UW.

“I’m proud to join this cadre of dedicated educators and mentors helping students become leading scientists and engineers,” said Schwartz. “Focusing on clean energy science, engineering, and resource management at UW has brought top students from across the country to Seattle, where they have partnered with Northwest tribes and businesses to ensure the future of energy is being created here.”

Starting in 2007, Schwartz launched a NSF-funded interdisciplinary graduate training program that used tribal clean energy research partnerships to attract top Native American students to graduate degree programs in UW’s College of the Environment and College of Engineering. The program was continued and expanded in partnership with Washington State University and Salish Kootenai College through U.S. Department of Agriculture funding, eventually including an undergraduate summer research experience program. From the initial launch in 2007, 26 students have completed Ph.D.s, with four awarded to Native Americans and four to other underrepresented minorities. Six masters degrees have also been awarded (two to Native Americans), and a tribal student-led startup company was founded. A signature achievement was the 2016 Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Washington, D.C. on fuel partially made from tribal forest thinnings.

“When you take into consideration the low number of Native Americans succeeding in graduate school STEM programs, you must recognize the number of tribal scholars that Dan has helped succeed, in one way or another,” said UW Ph.D. student Laurel James. “I, for one, would not be where I am today without his mentorship and opportunities for employment as I worked my way through the majority of my Ph.D. as a single parent.”   

In addition to his role as an educator and mentor, Schwartz is the founding director of UW’s Clean Energy Institute (CEI), an interdisciplinary research unit that supports the advancement of next-generation solar energy and battery materials and devices, as well as their integration with systems and the grid. With funds from the state of Washington, CEI has supported 152 Graduate Fellows pursuing clean energy research at UW. Through CEI, fellows receive professional development training, network with industry professionals and top clean energy researchers from around the world, and lead K-12 STEM outreach programs for Washington state schools.  


While in Washington, D.C to receive the PAESMEM this week, Schwartz and other award recipients participated in the White House State-Federal STEM Summit to identify educational priorities for the nation.


About the Clean Energy Institute

The Clean Energy Institute (CEI) at the University of Washington (UW) was founded in 2013 with funds from the state of Washington. Its mission is to accelerate the adoption of a scalable clean energy future that will improve the health and economy of our state, nation, and world. To accomplish this mission, CEI supports the advancement of next-generation solar energy and battery materials and devices, as well as their integration with systems and the grid. The institute creates the ideas and educates the people needed to generate these innovations, while facilitating the pathways to bring them to market.