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Peter Green Elected to National Academy of Engineering

February 25, 2023 by Claire Turvill

NREL Deputy Laboratory Director, Peter Green, is among 124 newly elected members of the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest distinctions awarded to engineers.

At the beginning of February, Peter Green was made a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). He is one of 124 members newly elected to the NAE and one of only 2,739 members worldwide.


NREL Deputy Laboratory Director, Peter Green. Image used courtesy of NREL

NREL Deputy Laboratory Director, Peter Green. Image used courtesy of NREL


Green was selected for this honor because of his contributions to the physics of polymer diffusion, glass behavior, and organic electronic devices and his leadership in energy technologies. Since 2016, he has worked as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Deputy Laboratory Directory for Science and Technology.


Taking Good Advice

Green was born in Jamaica and moved to the U.S. in 1977. He attended Hunter College, graduating with his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in physics in 1981, and Cornell University, where he received his Master’s in 1983 and materials science and engineering Ph.D. in 1985.

Green has quoted early life advice from his father that encouraged him to pursue an education that would grant flexibility in his career. Heeding this advice set Green on a career path of education, science, and research.


A Career in Academia

After graduating from Cornell, Green started his professional career at Sandia National Laboratory as the Glass and Electronic Ceramics Research Manager from 1990-1996. 

He left Sandia in 1996, moving to the University of Texas at Austin to take a position as a Professor of Chemical Engineering. He was later appointed the B.F. Goodrich Professor of Materials Engineering.

In 2005, Green left the University of Texas when he was recruited to chair the University of Michigan's Department of Materials Science and Engineering. At Michigan, he was the Vincent T. and Gloria M. Gorguze Endowed Professor of Engineering, and he taught chemical engineering, applied physics, and macromolecular science and technology. 

He served as director of the Energy Frontiers Research Center at the Center for Solar and Thermal Energy Conversion, housed at the University of Michigan and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Research Center works to explore novel materials that will more efficiently convert solar energy to electricity. 

In 2016, he was named the Deputy Laboratory Director for Science and Technology at NREL. He also serves as the senior vice president of the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, a subset of the U.S. Department of Energy, and the NREL Chief Research Officer. 

Green’s responsibilities at NREL include driving the lab’s scientific and research objectives, reinforcing its fundamental capabilities, and boosting its research portfolio. He also supervises the Laboratory Directed Research and Develop Program, NREL’s academic collaborations, and the postdoctoral research program. 


Materials and Thin Film Research

Green’s scientific work and research focus on complex materials and thin film research. The primary goal of his lab at the Colorado School of Mines is to create more compact, efficient, and intelligent devices using novel polymers and polymer-based materials. However, the complete potential of polymers has yet to be realized due to significant obstacles, such as comprehending how the physical attributes and structural morphology of polymers differ from bulk when subjected to tighter spatial constraints, ranging from nanometers to tens of nanometers.

He has published several related papers, including the textbook, “Kinetics, Transport, and Structure in Hard and Soft Materials,” which he wrote in 2005.

From 2000-2006, Green was the associate editor of Physical Review Letters.

In 2006, he was the Materials Research Society (MRS) president after being a member of MRS since he was a graduate student. He was also the inaugural editor-in-chief for MRS Communications, which had its first publication in late 2011.

In addition to his recent honor, Green was recognized as a fellow of the American Physical Society (1995), the American Ceramic Society (1998), the Royal Society of Chemistry (2013), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2016).