#WomenInSTEM Take The Lead At Fossil Energy – Dr. Jennifer Wilcox

Unfortunately, her high school did not offer certain courses required by four-year colleges, such as advanced math and foreign languages. But Dr. Wilcox became a math whiz on her own. “I taught myself calculus and how to study for AP exams because I was interested in applying to four-year colleges. I was so excited about what I was learning that I would stay up all night to master the material.”

A Move from Science to Engineering

Dr. Wilcox attended Wellesley College, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Mathematics. She made the transition from math to engineering as a graduate student at the University of Arizona when she enrolled in her first course, Intro to Energy Balances. “During that course, everything just clicked, and I learned skills that allowed me to answer questions that I could not answer before. I connected my profound respect for nature with chemical engineering fundamentals and our need for clean energy. This led to my career in carbon capture and removal.” Dr. Wilcox went on to earn a M.A. in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Arizona.

Net-Zero Emissions – Carbon Capture and Removal

Net-zero emissions is a term that describes a balance between the amount of CO2 emissions entering the air and the amount of CO2 emissions removed from the air. To get to net-zero emissions, carbon dioxide must be taken out of the air. There are limited ways of doing this.

To tackle this challenge, FE must expand its portfolio of carbon capture solutions, strategically deploy projects that address carbon capture, and leverage the technologies that are currently available to address carbon removal. According to Dr. Wilcox, “The quickest way to net-zero is to decarbonize. We must prioritize managing carbon emissions and if possible, avoid releasing carbon dioxide from fossil fuels into the atmosphere.”

The Biden-Harris Administration is focused on tackling climate change. Cutting CO2 emissions is a major part of that goal. “The Administration’s goal of achieving net-zero by 2050 will take significant thought and strategy. This means a careful examination of how we use fossil fuels today,” Wilcox says.