James F. Wood has been appointed interim director of the West Virginia University Energy Institute, replacing Brian Anderson, named last week to lead the National Energy Technology Laboratory, the only federally-operated National Laboratory in the Department of Energy system.
Wood, a long-time energy executive and leader, currently is director of the WVU-managed U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, Advanced Coal Technology Consortium, established between the U.S. and China in 2009 to focus on technologies for improving the energy efficiency of buildings, advanced coal and clean vehicles.
“As a leading energy expert, Jim brings excellent experience and wise judgment to the Energy Institute. He has contributed to the success of the Institute in his current role and we are excited and thankful that he is willing to lead as interim director,” said Provost Joyce McConnell.
“Energy-related research has always been a key element of WVU, and that will not change,” Wood said. “It is too important not only to West Virginia University, but to the state and nation. We will continue the Institute’s momentum and support the current major faculty research initiatives.”
A national search for the permanent director will be conducted; read more about the search.
Wood noted several major programs the Institute leads or supports:
• Rare earth elements research under Paul Ziemkiewicz.
• Center for Innovation in Gas Research Utilization, John Hu.
• Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory and Energy Geo-Science Center, Tim Carr and Doug Patchen.
• Activities related to the feasibility of deep, direct use of geothermal on the WVU campus lead by Nagasree Garapati.
Also, the Energy Institute manages WVU obligations under the Cooperative Agreement with U.S. DOE related to the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, Advanced Coal Technology Consortium, and will participate and manage various university obligations associated with several international memoranda of understanding, and continue to be a resource to federal and state agencies, and activities such as West Virginia Forward, and the Tri-State Shale Coalition.
“We are fortunate to have a seasoned leader in Jim Wood,” said Fred King, WVU’s vice president for research. “As someone with broad knowledge of the energy industry, the US Department of Energy, and our state, he is the ideal candidate to lead the Energy Institute until a permanent director can be identified. This Institute will be in good hands and it will not lose the momentum that has been building over the last few years.”
The Energy Institute is a key piece of WVU’s West Virginia Forward initiative, a collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Commerce and Marshall University to help change the economic health of the state with new, collaborative approaches.
“Jim has been an important participant in helping move the Energy Institute to its place of leadership, both nationally and internationally, and I look forward to working with him in this expanded capacity,” WVU President Gordon Gee said.
Wood came to WVU in 2014 from ThermoEnergy Corp., where he was chairman, president and CEO of the Massachusetts-based company focused on industrial wastewater treatment and power generation technologies.
Previously he was deputy assistant secretary of DOE’s Office of Clean Coal, responsible for a $4.5 billion program for research and demonstration projects related to carbon capture and storage, advanced power generation cycles, fuel cells and advanced integrated gas combined cycle processes.
Wood has 30 years of experience in the power industry. Between 1996 and 2001, he served as president and chief operating officer Babcock & Wilcox Co., and executive vice president of McDermott International Inc., its parent. Prior to that, he was president of WTI International, Inc. and senior vice president and general manager of Wheelabrator Environmental Systems Inc., both subsidiaries of Wheelabrator Technologies Inc.
His international experience includes periods of residency in Italy, India, Colombia, Belgium, and the Czech Republic. He represented the U.S. as a delegate to the 1995 Presidential Mission on Sustainable Energy and Trade to China.
He has accepted federal appointments to the National Coal Council, a Department of Energy senior advisory committee serving the U.S. secretary of energy and the U.S.-Egypt Presidents’ Council, an advisory body to the U.S. vice president during the Clinton administration. He served 20 years as a trustee of Clarkson University, where he received a bachelor of chemistry degree, and is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Anderson has led the Energy Institute since its creation in 2014, pulling together related research from around the University.
“Brian has been one of our rock stars, so we’re disappointed to lose him to NETL,” Gee said. “However, it would be selfish not to share his skill and abilities with the nation in this key energy role. I am pleased to continue working with Brian in his new role, and am confident that West Virginia University and West Virginia will continue to be great partners with NETL.”
“As the leader of our Energy Institute, Brian has consistently demonstrated incredible vision and a deep understanding of the future of energy in our country. We are all tremendously grateful to him, not only for the work he did here at WVU, but for the work he will be embarking on in this new phase of his career,” said McConnell, who added that a national search would be conducted for Anderson’s permanent successor.
“This is a great opportunity for Dr. Anderson and a perfect fit with his background both as a researcher and administrator,” King said. “The University is definitely going to miss his contributions as a thought leader in the area of energy, but his impact as the leader of NETL will positively effect West Virginia, the region and our country.”