The Philomathia Symposium at Berkeley

September 15, 2010

By Lynn Yarris, Berkeley Lab, and Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley Media Relations

Can we emulate the ability of green plants to harness solar energy? Can we create intelligent materials, buildings and even entire communities that generate their own energy? Will a price on greenhouse gases reduce emissions? Can the technology that produced an inexpensive anti-malaria drug also be used to extract fuel from agricultural waste?

An international all-star lineup of experts in solar and biofuel energy, climate science, urban design and other areas of research critical to sustainable energy technologies will gather in Berkeley for a public symposium Oct. 1-2 to answer these and other pressing questions. The goal is to lay out the best course of action for a clean, green energy future.

Sponsored by the Philomathia Foundation and hosted by the University of California, Berkeley, the event, which is free upon registration, will be held at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in downtown Berkeley and will feature presentations on cutting-edge developments in four key energy-related areas: supply, demand, policy and environment.

Keynote speakers in order of their presentations are Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the National Research Council; Chris Field, co-chair of the International Panel on Climate Change's Working Group Two; Arun Majumdar, director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy; Arthur Rosenfeld, dubbed California's "Godfather of energy efficiency" for having helped save the state billions of dollars in energy costs; and Dian Grueneich, a commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission. (Steven Koonin, under secretary for science at the U.S. Department of Energy, has canceled his planned attendance because of a conflict.)

International presenters include Li Junfeng from the People’s Republic of China, deputy director-general of the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission; and Farooq Abdullah, India's Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy.

The Philomathia Symposium at Berkeley: Pathways to a Sustainable Energy Future was organized by Graham Fleming, UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Research.

"The provision of sustainable energy is the defining problem of the 21st century, one that presents a challenge of unprecedented scale," Fleming said. "The decisions that we make now will influence the planet for thousands of years, and dictate our quality of life in both the near and long term."

Symposium presenters from Berkeley include leaders in their fields: Paul Alivisatos, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab); Jay Keasling, CEO of the Joint BioEnergy Institute; Severin Borenstein, co-director of UC Berkeley’s Energy Institute at the Haas School of Business; William Collins, head of Berkeley Lab's Climate Science Department; David Culler, chair of UC Berkeley’s Computer Science Division; Harrison Fraker, UC Berkeley professor of architecture and urban design; Inez Fung, faculty director of UC Berkeley's Berkeley Institute of the Environment; and Dan Kammen, founding director of UC Berkeley's Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory.

To learn more about the symposium, link to the symposium Web site.

To register to attend, visit the registration Web site