OMSI Science Pub: Artificial Photosynthesis: Learning from Nature’s Solar Energy Strategies

with Dr. Carl C. Wamser, Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry, Portland State University

  • 7 p.m. |
  • $5 suggested cover charge |
  • All ages welcome

About OMSI Science Pub: Artificial Photosynthesis: Learning from Nature’s Solar Energy Strategies


Every hour the world receives more energy from the sun than the total amount of energy consumed on Earth in a year.  As the world demand for energy increases, new resources will be required, and it is important that the resources be disconnected from global warming issues, especially carbon dioxide emissions.  There remains significant challenges of chemistry, engineering, economics, and politics before solar energy can assume a viable position as our primary energy resource. As a model of successful conversion of solar energy to other useful forms of energy, nature offers photosynthesis. At this Science Pub learn about the key features that make photosynthesis such an efficient process, and why we are challenged to find ways to arrange molecules and reactions to match nature's success.

Professor Carl C. Wamser has been a chemistry faculty member at Portland State University since 1983.  He received an Sc.B. degree from Brown University in 1966, a Ph.D. from Caltech in 1970, and did postdoctoral work for one year at Harvard before beginning his academic career at California State University, Fullerton.  He has held adjunct appointments while on sabbaticals at Caltech, UC Berkeley, and EPFL (Switzerland)(twice).  In 2002, the Oregon Academy of Sciences presented him with their Outstanding Scientist Award.  At PSU, he is the only faculty member ever to have received both the Branford Price Millar Award and the George Hoffmann Award for faculty excellence.  His research group works on various aspects of organic solar cells, sometimes called artificial photosynthesis, which in the long run might allow for inexpensive plastic films that serve as photovoltaic cells.  He is directing the establishment of a photovoltaic test facility at PSU, which will collect and analyze data about different types of solar arrays.  The initial research project is investigating the integration of green roofs combined with solar arrays, in collaboration with Professors David Sailor (Engineering) and Todd Rosenstiel (Biology).  He is also collaborating with OMSI on a National Science Foundation sponsored project to bring solar energy research exhibits and demonstrations to the public.  In June 2012, Professor Wamser officially "retired" from PSU and assumed the title of Professor Emeritus.  However, he continues to teach the large organic chemistry lecture class and direct a research group of four Ph.D. graduate students.  He thinks he may really retire in summer 2014. 

Come out for beer, pizza, popcorn and a healthy dose of scientific knowledge! Come early to secure your seats and order up your food and drinks before the presentation begins.

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