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Conference at Wake Forest University to focus on emerging technologies as solution to energy problems

February 1, 2010

Wake Forest University is bringing together business leaders, leading researchers, entrepreneurs and scholars for a two-day conference to address America’s growing energy problem and to lay the groundwork for solutions. Columnist and best-selling author Thomas Friedman will deliver the conference’s keynote address.

The conference, “Energizing the Future:Technology, Policy and Entrepreneurship,” will be held on Feb. 10 and 11 in Brendle Recital Hall on the Wake Forest campus. The conference is free and open to the public, although advance registration is suggested through the conference Web site.   

The conference will emphasize the importance of emerging technologies, innovation and entrepreneurship to solve our energy problems, said Professor and Chair of Biology Jim Curran, who is organizing the conference with other faculty members. The idea for the conference originated from a seminar that Curran taught several years ago on energy policy and that he is teaching again this semester.

He hopes that students, as well as the general public, come away from the conference knowing that there are things that they can do right now to begin addressing energy problems and “to see what’s possible and how to make it happen.”   

“This is the most important issue America will have to face in the next half century, and we have one chance to get it right,” Curran said. “We’re not going to solve the problem tomorrow, but we want to show that there are things that can be done now to move in that direction.”

The conference will feature remarks via video from U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. Duke Energy CEO James Rogers, Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon, and Steven Burke, president of the North Carolina Biofuels Center, will speak at the conference.

Friedman, the New York Times columnist and the best-selling author of “Hot, Flat and Crowded,” will speak at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10 in Wait Chapel. His speech, “Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America,” is part of the University’s Voices of Our Time lecture series.

Panel discussions, moderated by Wake Forest professors, will address emerging energy sources, including wind, solar and nuclear power; government and economic policies that affect energy legislation; and how entrepreneurs are seizing the initiative to develop alternative technology businesses. A panel of local business and government leaders will discuss energy ventures in North Carolina.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit

The full conference schedule is as follows:

February 10, Challenges and Opportunities

9 a.m.

Opening Statement by Wake Forest University Provost Jill Tiefenthaler

9:15 a.m.

Identifying and Addressing Energy Challenges.

Moderated by Dan Fogel, Executive Professor, School of Business, Wake Forest University

Dr. Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, via pre-recorded video

James Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy

Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy

1:30 p.m.

Emerging Energy Technologies

Moderated by Richard Williams, Reynolds Professor of Physics, and Abdou Lachgar, Professor of Chemistry, Wake Forest University

David Carroll, Associate Professor and Director, Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials, Wake Forest University

Joe Doster, Professor, Nuclear Engineering, North Carolina State University

Nancy Dudney, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Thomas Meyer, Arey Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, University of North Carolina

Andrew Hunt, Engineer for Ocean Turbines with Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd., Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom.

6:30 p.m.

Keynote Address by Thomas Friedman, “Hot, Flat and Crowded,” Wait Chapel

Thomas Friedman is participating through the University’s Voices of Our Times lecture series.

February 11, Policy and Entrepreneurship

9 a.m.

Energy Legislation and Government Policy

Moderated by Sid Shapiro, Distinguished Chair in Law, Wake Forest University

Richard Pierce, Alverson Professor of Law, George Washington University

Joseph Tomain, Ziegler Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati

Steven Ferrey, Professor, Suffolk Law School

11 a.m.

Energy Economics and Government Policy

Moderated by Robert Whaples, Professor and Chair of Economics, Wake Forest University

Kevin Hassett, Director of Economic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute

Lester Lave, Higgins Professor of Economics, Carnegie Mellon University

Robert Shapiro, Co-Founder and Chairman, Sonecon, Llc.

David Kreutzer, Senior Policy Analyst, The Heritage Foundation

3 p.m.

Energy Technology Entrepreneurship

Moderated by Betsy Gatewood, Professor and Director of Entrepreneurship, and Miles Silman, Associate Professor of Biology, Wake Forest University

J. Brent Dehlsen, founder of Clipper Windpower, and co-founder and CEO of Ecomerit TechnologiesSteve Voorhees, Founder and CEO of Ridgeline Energy

Scott Prince, Partner, EnerTech Capital

7 p.m.

Energy Entrepreneurship in the Triad

Moderated by Miles Silman, Associate Professor of Biology, Wake Forest University

Steven Burke, President and CEO, NC Biofuels Center

Randy Pool, Managing Principal, Stantec, Inc.

Crawford Pike, BB&T

Dan Besse, Councilman, City of Winston-Salem

Press Contacts:

Kerry King
(336) 758-6084

Ellen Sterner Sedeno
(214) 546-8893

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