Chen Zhu, a globally recognized geologist and professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Indiana University, will join the University of Cambridge as a Leverhulme Visiting Professor for part of 2023 and 2024.
Each year, the Leverhulme Trust, a private foundation in the UK, supports UK institutions to invite an eminent senior professor from overseas, to bring genuinely novel expertise and enhance the skills and knowledge of academic staff and students in an underrepresented area in the UK. Zhu will bring his expertise in modeling the chemical reactions between carbon dioxide, water, and minerals in geology-based net-zero emission and negative emission strategies.
These strategies, based on CO2-water-rock interactions, are currently being investigated in the US, UK, and around the world. The CO2-removing interactions occur naturally as rock weathering. Now, Earth scientists are diligently studying how to accelerate these reactions and scale up globally in order to bend the emission curve before it is too late.
“According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C requires the storage of hundreds of gigatons of CO2 in aquifers, soils, and oceans in the next few decades, including CO2 removed from the atmosphere and captured from industrial point sources,” said Zhu. “Implementing these strategies to the gigaton-per-year scale requires closing long-standing knowledge gaps in geochemical reaction kinetics, which is urgently needed to evaluate the efficacy and costs of these strategies and individual projects,” he explained.
The Leverhulme Visiting Professorship will allow Zhu to collaborate with Professor Nicholas Tosca and other Earth science faculty members at the University of Cambridge who work on various carbon sequestration projects. He will also offer workshops on advanced geochemical modeling and novel application of non-traditional stable isotopes to chemical kinetics studies to students across the UK. A globally recognized expert in researching and teaching quantitative geochemical models, he will impart his world-leading knowledge and skills to geology and environmental science students in the UK working on climate change.
Zhu is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Mineralogical Society of America, and the Geological Society of America. In 2021-22, he served as the Henry Darcy Distinguished Lecturer, giving over 65 lectures reaching 30 countries on climate change mitigation and adaptation to universities, national labs, government agencies, corporations, and professional society’s annual conferences.