WASHINGTON, D.C.—Ellen Williams was confirmed by the United States Senate on Monday, December 8, as the director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E.
As director of ARPA-E, Williams will oversee a novel program that funds high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment, a DOE press release said. She will ensure that the technologies assisted through ARPA-E will help change the energy landscape and better meet the nation’s changing energy needs, the release said.
“ARPA-E is central to the Department’s advancement of energy technology innovation, and Ellen Williams will provide outstanding leadership based upon her combination of world class research in condensed matter physics and insight into how technology impacts the energy marketplace,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said. “I’m excited to work with Ellen on expanding the scope and impact of ARPA-E. I also want to thank Cheryl Martin for her leadership in ARPA-E for the past two years.”
Prior to joining the Department, Williams was the chief scientist for BP, a position she has held since 2010.
She is currently on a leave of absence from the University of Maryland, where she has served as a distinguished university professor in the Department of Physics and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology since 2000. Williams has served as a professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland since 1991. She founded the University of Maryland Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and served as its director from 1996 through 2009.
Williams has served on the board of reviewing editors of Science Magazine since 2003. She also participated in technical assessments for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Defense, and National Nuclear Security Administration, as well as the Department of Energy. Williams received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Michigan State University. She later completed her doctorate in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology.