Alissa Park Appointed Dean of UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science

Leading expert on carbon capture and conversion technology joins UCLA from Columbia Engineering

Jun 20 2023
Alissa Park

Ah-Hyung “Alissa” Park, chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering at Columbia Engineering and the Lenfest Earth Institute Professor of Climate Change, has been appointed the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, effective September 1, 2023.

One of the nation’s leading experts on carbon capture and conversion technology, Park is also the director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, an executive committee member of The Earth Institute and Columbia Climate School, and a member of Columbia’s Department of Chemical Engineering, where she has been a faculty member since 2007. 

“I am deeply humbled and also excited to serve as the next dean of engineering at UCLA, a world-class public university,” Park said. “It is an exciting and critical time for engineering and computer science as we focus on addressing many grand challenges and opportunities with tremendous social impact such as climate change, pandemics, and artificial intelligence.”

At Columbia, Park created highly interdisciplinary research and educational programs in sustainable energy and decarbonization, including the CarbonTech Development Initiative for translational decarbonization research — a collaboration between the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy and the Center on Global Energy Policy. She also substantially improved the diversity of the faculty and student bodies within her units, spearheading efforts to achieve a cultural shift toward equity, inclusion, and respect.

“We are honored that Alissa will become the dean of UCLA Engineering,” said Columbia Engineering Dean Shih-Fu Chang. “In her 16 years here at Columbia, she has had an incredible impact, through both her critically important environmental research and her leadership in educating undergraduate and graduate students. She has been an extraordinary role model for her students and is deeply valued by her colleagues. We are thrilled that she has been selected by UCLA for this important role and look forward to seeing her take on the next chapter in her amazing career of exceptional impact.”

In addition to being active with Columbia’s Women in Energy Initiative, Park has also been involved in a collaboration with UN Women — a United Nations initiative — on a project supporting entrepreneurship in sustainable energy in developing countries.

 “Columbia has been an amazing place,” said Park, “where I was always inspired by remarkable colleagues and students. Its highly interdisciplinary research culture allowed me to create a unique research program focusing on one of the biggest challenges faced by humanity, climate change. I will miss Columbia and all the interesting discussions that I had with my friends and collaborators. But I also look forward to collaborating with them in this new adventure.”

Park’s research focuses on sustainable energy and materials conversion pathways with an emphasis on using integrated carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies to address climate change. Her research group also is investigating direct air capture of carbon dioxide and negative emission technologies, including bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, and sustainable construction materials with low carbon intensity.

In 2016, Park co-founded GreenOre CleanTech, a startup spun out of research developed at Columbia that transforms the hard-to-decarbonize industrial sector’s solid wastes and carbon emissions into value-added products such as carbon-negative building materials while recovering energy-relevant critical minerals.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, and the daughter of an architectural engineer and an artist who loves chemistry, Park received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical and biological engineering from the University of British Columbia in Canada. She also earned a doctorate in chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio State University, from which she later received a distinguished alumni award for academic excellence in 2021.

A fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), Park is also a fellow of the American Chemical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is currently serving as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Committee on Carbon Utilization Infrastructure, Markets, Research and Development.

Among Park’s numerous awards and recognitions are an AIChE Particle Technology Forum (PTF) Shell Thomas Baron Award in Fluid-Particle Systems, a U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) Research Award, AIChE PTF’s PSRI Lectureship Award, Columbia University’s Janette and Armen Avanessians Diversity Award, an American Chemical Society WCC Rising Star Award, and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. She is a member of numerous editorial and advisory boards, and has led a number of global and national discussions on CCUS technologies, including the 2019 National Petroleum Council CCUS Report and the 2017 Mission Innovation Workshop on Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage.

“Chancellor Block and I are confident that under Alissa’s visionary leadership, UCLA Samueli will make even greater strides in advancing engineering education and research for the benefit of our society,” said Darnell Hunt, UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost, in a written message to the UCLA campus.

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