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Tkacik Named Scott Institute Executive Director

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Peter Kerwin
University Communications & Marketing

Daniel Tkacik(opens in new window) has been appointed as the new executive director of the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation(opens in new window). Tkacik succeeds Anna Siefken(opens in new window) in this role, as she is on leave with the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Technology Transitions.

Tkacik joined the Carnegie Mellon University community in 2009, earning his master's and doctoral degrees in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering(opens in new window) as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. His research focused on air pollution from combustion systems and helped advance the understanding of secondary organic aerosols — microscopic airborne particles that form from the oxidation of organic vapors. From 2013-14, Tkacik served as a postdoctoral researcher, traveling around the United States measuring methane emissions from the natural gas sector.

In 2014, Tkacik joined CMU's College of Engineering(opens in new window) as a communications manager, leading the development of communications strategies and materials to elevate the stature and reputation of the college.

Tkacik is a valuable addition to the Scott Institute's team, having a passion for bridging important scientific energy work and the general public.

"I'm most excited to help the research happening at the Scott Institute move beyond the walls of the laboratory and have an impact on the real world," Tkacik said. "You can really get in the weeds with science ... but there's something in those weeds that means something important to other people. I am always excited to venture into the weeds and pull out the essence of what a particular piece of research means to nonscientists, what it means to people who ride a bus, or use natural gas in their homes. Energy affects us all."

The Scott Institute promotes research and education in the energy sector with the goal of improving efficiency and creating technologies and innovations that contribute to the world's sustainability, reliability and accessibility of energy sources. Working with over 155 energy experts and innovators across the CMU community and beyond, the Scott Institute strives to support substantive and free-standing energy research efforts.

"The cream of the crop energy researchers are here at CMU, here in the Scott Institute," Tkacik said. "I'm honored to have the privilege to work with them toward a more sustainable future."

Prior to coming to CMU, Tkacik earned a bachelor's degree in earth and atmospheric sciences from the Georgia Institute of Technology, conducting research on the properties of cloud condensation nuclei and the effects of cloud properties on global climate.

Tkacik's expertise will help the Scott Institute reach a wider audience and continue a legacy of excellence in energy research and technologies by forming connections within a supportive network of experts. Tkacik and the rest of the team at the Scott Institute are excited to continue the efforts to support and connect energy researchers to build new energy research and technologies.

"Daniel comes to the Scott Institute with a unique and impactful combination of skills: He has a Ph.D. in an energy-related field and also has deep experience in communications and project management, along with having many existing ties here in the CMU community," said Jay Whitacre(opens in new window), director of the Scott Institute. "We are thrilled that he is coming to the institute to use these tools, and he will be able to have an almost immediate and profound impact."

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