On Thursday, the United States Senate confirmed the appointment of Evelyn Wang, the Ford Professor of Engineering and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, as director of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
“I am deeply honored by the opportunity to serve as the director of ARPA-E. I’d like to thank President Biden, for his nomination to this important role, and Secretary Granholm, for her confidence in my abilities. I am thrilled to be joining the incredibly talented team at ARPA-E and look forward to helping bring innovative energy technologies that bolster our nation’s economy and national security to market,” says Wang.
An internationally recognized leader in applying nanotechnology to heat transfer, Wang has developed a number of high-efficiency, clean energy, and clean water solutions. Wang received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT in 2000. After receiving her master’s degree and PhD from Stanford University, she returned to MIT as a faculty member in 2007. In 2018, she was named department head of MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.
As director of ARPA-E, Wang will advance the agency’s mission to fund and support early-stage energy research that has the potential to impact energy generation, storage, and use. The agency helps researchers commercialize innovative technologies that, according to ARPA-E, “have the potential to radically improve U.S. economic prosperity, national security, and environmental well-being.”
“I am so grateful to the Senate for confirming Dr. Evelyn Wang to serve as Director of DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said in a statement today. “Now more than ever, we rely on ARPA-E to support early-stage energy technologies that will help us tackle climate change and strengthen American competitiveness. Dr. Wang’s experience and expertise with groundbreaking research will ensure that ARPA-E continues its role as a key engine of innovation and climate action. I am deeply grateful for Dr. Wang’s willingness to serve the American people, and we’re so excited to welcome her to DOE.”
Wang has served as principal investigator of MIT’s Device Research Lab. She and her team have developed a number of devices that offer solutions to the world’s many energy and water challenges. These devices include an aerogel that drastically improves window insulation, a high-efficiency solar powered desalination system, a radiative cooling device that requires no electricity, and a system that pulls potable water out of air, even in arid conditions.
Throughout her career, Wang has been recognized with multiple awards and honors. In 2021, she was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She received the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME) Gustus L. Memorial Award for outstanding achievement in mechanical engineering in 2017 and was named an ASME Fellow in 2015. Having mentored and advised hundreds of students at MIT, Wang was honored with a MIT Committed to Caring Award for her commitment to mentoring graduate students. She has also served as co-chair of the inaugural Rising Stars in Mechanical Engineering program to encourage women graduate students and postdocs considering future careers in academia.
As department head, Wang has led and implemented a variety of strategic research, educational, and community initiatives in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. Alongside other departmental leaders, she led a focus on groundbreaking research advances that help address several “grand challenges” that our world faces. She worked closely with faculty and teaching staff on developing educational offerings that prepare the next generation of mechanical engineers for the workforce. She also championed new initiatives to make the department a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community for students, faculty, and staff.
Wang, who is stepping down as department head effective immediately in light of her confirmation, will be taking a temporary leave as a faculty member at MIT while she serves in this role. MIT School of Engineering Dean Anantha Chandrakasan will share plans for the search for her replacement with the mechanical engineering community in the coming days.
Once sworn in, Wang will officially assume her role as director of ARPA-E.