U.S. Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Initiative awards Prof. Shirley Meng for pioneering leadership in inorganic chemistry

The U.S. Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Initiative has selected Shirley Meng, professor at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, for an innovation award in recognition of her research on batteries, a critical component to a clean energy future.

A pioneer in discovering and designing better materials for energy storage, Meng serves as chief scientist of the Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science (ACCESS). She will be honored Nov. 2 at the 11th annual U.S. C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium & Awards in Washington, D.C.

Meng is this year’s recipient of the C3E Technology Research and Innovation Award which recognizes scientists and researchers at universities, national labs, or in industry who are researching and developing advanced innovative clean energy technologies with the potential for demonstrable and scalable impact.

“I am truly honored to have been chosen by C3E for this award,” Meng said. “Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time, but I believe we have the scientific innovation to face it head on. A guiding principle of my lab is, ‘Nothing is impossible. Impossible only takes longer to achieve.’ Sustainable and resilient energy storage is one of the most important technologies humanity needs to tackle the climate crisis.”

Meng earned her PhD in materials science in 2005 from the National University in Singapore and went on to MIT as a postdoctoral fellow. In 2008 she joined the University of Florida as an assistant professor of materials science. A year later, she moved to UC San Diego where she became the founding director of the Sustainable Power and Energy Center and served as the inaugural director of the university’s Institute for Materials Discovery and Design.

Meng’s research has produced more than 270 publications and several patents. It has also led to three startup companies in addition to higher energy, longer lasting and safer batteries.

One startup that spun out of Meng’s lab, known as South 8 Technologies, is commercializing a liquefied gas electrolyte that Meng led the development of that allows for a new class of battery that can operate at -112°F. Current lithium-ion batteries cannot operate under -4°F. This invention could widen the market for lithium batteries for electric vehicles by removing a major barrier to functioning in extreme climates.

The C3E Initiative advances the contributions and leadership of women across the clean energy sector. The program is led by DOE, in collaboration with the MIT Energy Initiative, Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy, and Texas A&M Energy Institute. The C3E awards are given annually in eight categories and recognize mid-career women who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and accomplishments in clean energy, while also mentoring other women in the field.