APS News

APS Fellow Nominated to Lead ARPA-E

President Obama has announced his nomination of APS Fellow Ellen D. Williams to head the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

November 8, 2013

The White House nominated APS Fellow Ellen Williams on Wednesday to head the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E agency. If confirmed, she will oversee the DoE’s fundamental research projects to better produce, store and transfer energy.

Williams has been the chief scientist at BP since 2010, when she went leave from the University of Maryland. At the university she was the head of the school’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. She specializes in nanotechnology, specifically thin film metal oxides, new nanoprobes and the dynamics of surfaces.

The Advanced Research Projects Administration – Energy, better known as ARPA-E is the Department of Energy’s center for pursuing “high-risk, high-reward” research. Modeled after the Defense Department’s DARPA, the ARPA-E has given grants to researchers working on a range of projects including renewable energy sources, battery advancements, emission reductions and even desalinization technology.

She received APS’s 2001 David Adler Lectureship Award for her research, and was elected to the National Academies in 2005. Williams will take over the agency from deputy-director Cheryl Martin who has been serving as its head.