Chemistry Department Chairman Dunwei Wang, whose research explores molecular solutions to produce new, cleaner sources of energy, has been named the Margaret A. and Thomas A. Vanderslice Professor of Chemistry, Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences Dean Gregory Kalscheur, S.J., announced.
Wang, who joined the Boston College chemistry faculty in 2007, succeeds T. Ross Kelly, the inaugural holder of the endowed Vanderslice chair, who retired this year after 50 years at the University.
“I am humbled to be named the Vanderslice Professor and grateful to the Vanderslice family for their generous support of my work, our department, and the University,” Wang said. “I would also like to thank my colleagues, who have been very supportive, and the members of the Wang Research Group, who have contributed so much over the years.”
Wang said it was an honor to succeed Kelly, an internationally recognized researcher who was also regarded as one of the BC’s finest classroom teachers. In 1989, Kelly became the first faculty member in the physical sciences to receive an endowed professorship when he was named the Vanderslice Professor. Kelly, said Wang, “set the highest of standards as a researcher, teacher, and colleague. I will continue to strive to do the same.”
In announcing the appointment, Fr. Kalscheur said Wang’s research expertise will make him a key contributor to the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society, and position him to serve as a valuable bridge between the Chemistry Department and a future engineering program.
“Dunwei is widely regarded as a rising star in energy science research on the international stage,” said Fr. Kalscheur. “His research is at the cutting edge of the study of nanomaterials and their application in solar energy conversion, and this work regarding energy science has global impact. It is fitting recognition that he should hold the Margaret A. and Thomas A. Vanderslice Chair. His research, teaching, and role in the BC community have enriched not only his field, but the University as a whole.”
Wang’s research has focused on clean energy conversion and storage. In particular, his experimental work in artificial photosynthesis explores how to more efficiently harvest and store energy with an eye toward large-scale energy solutions. Wang seeks solutions to mimic the natural process by which energy from the sun is captured and stored. Prior efforts to copy this process have proved inefficient, expensive, or both. Wang’s lab, which numbers approximately 15 members, works to solve these challenges by developing new material designs and precise synthesis controls.
In addition, Wang’s research aims to advance the stable operation of the lithium air battery through molecular strategies that have shown promise yielding superior long cycle lifetimes.
His research is supported by approximately $3 million in funding through six federal grants awarded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as additional funding from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund.
Wang is as proud of his teaching as he is of his research agenda. In addition to teaching a range of chemistry courses, he partnered with Professor of English Elizabeth Kowaleski Wallace to develop an Enduring Questions course in the core curriculum, Living in the Material World, which explores the world from viewpoints in science and the humanities.
“My philosophy has always been one of the teacher-scholar,” said Wang. “These things go hand-in-hand. My teaching benefits from my research and my research is also informed by my teaching.”
Ed Hayward | University Communications | September 2019