CSTPR Noontime Seminar
Collaboration in Energy and Materials Sustainability
by Alan Hurd, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Abstract: While rigorous closed-loop sustainability in the consumption of materials and energy is impossible, we have an obligation to society to stretch our resources to the maximum extent. International collaboration is essential given the uneven distribution of resources, population, and human development.
Modern scientists know innately the importance of international collaboration for cracking a difficult research problem. However society often overlooks the diplomatic and economic value of international collaboration: Not only does collaboration build economies in mutual fashion, it decreases global tension. This concept is often called science diplomacy.
Among many examples where science diplomacy works or should work are critical materials whose supply is at risk, specifically helium of both isotopes and rare earth elements for energy applications. The relationships between geologic abundance, markets, and geopolitics that constrain supply are at least as complex as the physics and chemistry that make critical materials valuable and important. The economic spillover effect—in which collaborating nations both benefit in superlinear proportion than proceeding alone—fortify the argument for collaboration.
Alan Hurd is Deputy Director of the National Security Education Center at Los Alamos National Laboratory where he is in charge of the Lab’s academic collaborations. Recently he was a Franklin Fellow for the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary at the U.S. Department of State serving Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry. He has been a Visiting Scholar at the Santa Fe Institute and the Director of the Lujan Neutron Scattering Center at LANSCE. Prior to Los Alamos, Hurd managed materials research at Sandia National Laboratories and taught physics at Brandeis University.
Hurd is a materials physicist whose interests include complex fluids and science policy in an international context, turning recently to matters of sustainability. His research has been cited 6000 times and was awarded three research awards by the Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences.
While at Santa Fe Institute and Los Alamos National Laboratory, he served on the APS-MRS study panel on energy critical elements, which resulted in federal legislation signed by President Obama. He serves on a current APS-MRS-ACS panel on the helium shortage that expects to publish in 2016.
Hurd is active in the scientific societies and non-profit organizations. Currently he serves as the APS Chair of the Committee on International Scientific Affairs and as a member of the Development Committee. He is Chair of the MRS Editorial Board of a new review journal on energy and sustainability and Chair of the MRS New Publication Products Subcommittee. He is Vice Chair for ScienceCounts, a non-profit involved in science education and awareness for the public. For the MRS, Hurd has served in every elected office. He was the 2007 President of the Materials Research Society, who honored him with the 1999 Woody Award and the 2004 MRS Special Recognition Award.