Helene Schember, former associate director of the Cornell Center for Materials Research, became the first executive director of the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future (CCSF) Dec. 3. Schember joined Frank DiSalvo, the J.A. Newman Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and CCSF director since the center's September 2007 inception.
Schember came to Cornell in 1997 from the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she served as group supervisor for the Low Temperature Physics Group and led the early design team for the Spitzer Space Infrared Telescope Facility. At CCMR, she developed the center's Shared Experimental Facilities, rated "superb" by the National Science Foundation, and launched broad educational outreach and industrial partnerships programs.
"I'm delighted that Helene has joined CCSF as executive director," DiSalvo said. "Her ability to guide and work with creative teams of faculty and staff to tackle significant challenges and opportunities will be key to the new center's success."
The appointment makes Schember, who holds a Ph.D. in engineering science from Caltech, the center's first full-time staff member. But with strong support from alumni, campus groups, students and faculty, Schember said, CCSF is growing rapidly.
"It's a very formative time because so much is going on," said Schember. "The goal of the center is to really have a global impact -- and I think it's doable. We have world-class scientists here, and the level of support is incredible. People have been waiting for this opportunity, and they are responding enthusiastically."
The center, temporarily operating out of Baker Laboratory, will focus on three themes: energy, the environment and economic development. "They're all intertwined," said DiSalvo. "The task will be getting together people who don't normally get together, getting people to look at these things as system problems, and building synergies."
Sidney Leibovich, the S.B. Eckert Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will serve as associate director for energy programs. Associate directors for environmental and economic development programs, as well as other key appointments, will be named in the coming months.