Sally Benson

Co-Director, Precourt Institute for Energy, and Director, Global Climate and Energy Project, Stanford UniversitY


Sally M. Benson holds three appointments at Stanford University: Professor of Energy Resources Engineering, Co-Director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, and Director of the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP). She is an internationally recognized scientist with extensive management experience and is responsible for fostering cross-campus collaborations on energy and guiding the growth and development of a diverse research portfolio at Stanford University.

Prior to joining Stanford University in 2007, Benson was at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for 29 years, where she held a variety of key positions, including Deputy Director of Operations and Director of the Earth Sciences Division.

A groundwater hydrologist and reservoir engineer, Benson is regarded as a leading authority on carbon capture and storage (CCS), and emerging energy technologies. She and her GCEP colleagues recently conducted a groundbreaking series of net energy analyses calculating the energetic costs of wind turbines, solar photovoltaics, and grid-scale renewable energy storage. She also leads a research laboratory that studies geologic carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration in saline aquifers. In 2005, she served as a coordinating lead author of a special report on CCS published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In 2007, she was one of thousands of IPCC scientists to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to inform the public on the science of climate change.

Benson is the author of more than 160 journal papers and book chapters, and she has delivered more than 200 invited talks and has testified at U.S. Congressional hearings on climate-change technology and CO2sequestration. Her honors include the 2012 Greenman Award and the ARCS 2009 American Pacesetter Award. She also serves on the boards of directors of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Climate Central.

Benson holds a BS in Geology from Barnard College at Columbia University, and an MS and PhD in Materials Science and Mineral Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.