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  • Professor Karen Goldberg
    11/14/19 - 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM

    Covestro Lecture: Karen I. Goldberg

    Covestro Lecture in Sustainability

Developing alternatives to oil as feedstrocks for our chemicals and liquid fuels

The call for reducing CO2 emissions and moving to renewable energy sources has never been louder than it is today. But as society moves away from oil as a primary energy source, we need to develop other sustainable sources for our liquid fuels. Furthermore, we must also re-envision our chemical industry and economy. Gasoline and other liquid fuels are the major products that are made from oil, but oil is also the source of the chemicals that are used to make most all of the consumer goods that we have come to rely on. Our medicines, detergents, paints, plastics, fibers, fabrics, and almost everything we use on a daily basis, are currently derived from petroleum. The carbon-based building blocks used to make all these consumer goods have been available in sufficient supply and at low cost due to the economy of scale of the enormous oil refining industry. Fundamentally new pathways, from new sources, to the chemicals and liquid fuels that we depend on must be developed to successfully transition to a sustainable future. In this presentation, I will describe the history of how we got to our current energy landscape, projections on where we are going, and also include some of the exciting strategies that scientists are pursuing to allow us to use natural gas and carbon dioxide to prepare our chemicals and fuels in the future.


Professor Goldberg

Karen Goldberg received her artium baccalaureus (A.B.) degree from Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City. As an undergraduate, she pursued research projects with at Cornell University, Columbia University, and AT&T Laboratories. She then went on to the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned her doctorate in chemistry. Following a post-doctoral year at Ohio State University, she joined the faculty at Illinois State University, a primarily undergraduate institution. She moved to the University of Washington where she became the first Raymon E. and Rosellen M. Lawton Distinguished Scholar in Chemistry and the first Nicole A. Boand Endowed Professor of Chemistry. She also served as director of the first National Science Foundation-funded Phase II Center for Chemical Innovation, the Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis. In 2017, she moved to the University of Pennsylvania as a Vagelos Professor of Energy Research and is the inaugural director of the Vagelos Institute of Energy Science and Technology.


Research in the Goldberg group is focused on the development of new catalytic systems to efficiently produce chemicals and fuels from a range of available feedstocks. We are interested in transforming both highly saturated feedstocks, such as natural gas and alkanes, as well as highly oxygenated materials like CO2 and those found in biomass. Using catalysis, we seek to develop new environmentally responsible and economically viable methods to convert these feedstocks to more valuable organic products.

Department Seminar

Professor Goldberg is also presenting a department seminar at 9:45 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, 331 Smith Hall. Information is available at

  • Event Details

    Location: 100 Smith Hall
    Host: Professor Marc Hillmyer
    • Professor Karen I. Goldberg
    • Karen Goldberg
    • Department of Chemistry
    • University of Pennsylvania
    • Pittsburgh

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