UofL researcher wins prestigious award for more efficient, cleaner and safer energy innovation


UofL chemistry researcher Andrew Wilson.
UofL chemistry researcher Andrew Wilson.

A University of Louisville researcher has won a prestigious award for his work to better understand chemical reactions — work that could help produce more efficient, cleaner and safer energy.  

Andrew Wilson, of the UofL chemistry department, was one of just 41 U.S. researchers selected to receive a 2022 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. The award, presented by Oak Ridge Associated Universities, recognizes outstanding full-time assistant professors within two years of tenure track appointment. 

“It’s a really amazing feeling to have your peers recognize the work you’re doing as a way forward in solving these big world problems, specifically in energy science,” Wilson said.

Wilson’s work focuses on better understanding what happens to molecules in energy-related reactions. Specifically, he’s looking at reactions that combine electricity with readily available molecules, such as water and carbon dioxide, to create cleaner more sustainable fuels that could be substituted for petroleum. 

By more quickly and precisely measuring these reactions and how they change molecules, Wilson hopes to engineer them to produce more targeted outputs. In this case, better sources of energy — ones that perform better and pollute less. 

“If we can understand these reactions, we can get more specific outputs — we can produce cleaner, more efficient or safer energy,” Wilson said. “The only way to do that is to design the process and the only way to design the process is to understand.” 

Kevin Gardner, UofL’s executive vice president for research and innovation, said this prestigious Powe Award highlights the importance of Wilson’s research and its potential impact.

“We are very proud of Andrew and the work he’s doing to improve how we power our world,” Gardner said. “His research at UofL is driving the development of materials and processes for a new energy economy.”