UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Derek Elsworth, professor of energy and mineral engineering in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, has been selected as the inaugural G. Albert Shoemaker Chair in Mineral Engineering.
“This endowment will support our continuing interests in sustainable modes of energy production and transformation in the energy-economy-environment nexus,” Elsworth said. “This issue is one of the greatest challenges of our time.”
Elsworth’s research interests are in computational mechanics, rock mechanics, and in the mechanical and transport characteristics of fractured rocks. His current research looks at the role of fluids on natural and engineered processes in the Earth’s crust. This has applications in geothermal energy, the deep geological sequestration of radioactive wastes and of carbon dioxide, unconventional energy extraction, and instability and eruption dynamics of volcanoes.
Elsworth, a faculty member in the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, has been an educator, researcher and consultant for more than 30 years. He is the cofounder of the Center for Geomechanics, Geofluids, and Geohazards and also has an affiliate appointment in the Department of Geosciences.
Elsworth said he was “surprised, honored and grateful” for the endowed professorship, which offers research funding through the $1 million endowment from the late Mercedes Shoemaker to honor the memory of her husband, a Pittsburgh civic and industrial leader dedicated to the support of higher education.
Endowed professorships, said Elsworth, allow faculty members to pursue “high risk, high reward” research while maintaining support in existing areas. The supplemental funding also helps Penn State draw in top students and postdoctoral researchers.
“As we continue the shift toward energy sources that are more sustainable, while managing carbon through sequestration, the world now more than ever needs the areas of research for which Dr. Elsworth is an internationally recognized expert,” said Lee Kump, John Leone Dean in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. “The benefits made possible through the generous support of the Shoemaker family extend far beyond Penn State.”
The Shoemaker endowment is the latest gift to the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. The family also supports the G. Albert Shoemaker Lecture in Mineral Engineering. G. Albert Shoemaker graduated from Penn State in 1923 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and went on to lead an eminent career in the mineral industries. He engaged in many civic and philanthropic activities including serving on the boards of several corporate and non-profit organizations. He was elected a distinguished alumnus of Penn State and served on the board of the Penn State Foundation for 10 years and as a member of the University Board of Trustees for more than 20 years, from 1957 to 1978, and as board president from 1970 to 1973.