Alumna Ah-Hyung "Alissa" Park named dean of UCLA Samueli School of Engineering
Ah-Hyung “Alissa” Park (2005 PhD, Ohio State Chemical Engineering), a former member of the L.-S. Fan Research Group, has been appointed as the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. Park's term will start September 1.
Park, a world leader in carbon dioxide emission control via carbon capture and conversion technology, is currently the Lenfest Earth Institute Professor of Climate Change, professor and chair of the Department of Earth & Environmental Engineering, and professor of chemical engineering at Columbia University. She also serves as the director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy and holds executive committee memberships in The Earth Institute and Columbia Climate School.
In a written message to the UCLA campus community, Darnell Hunt, UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost, expressed his confidence in Park. "Under Alissa's visionary leadership, UCLA Samueli will make even greater strides in advancing engineering education and research for the benefit of our society," he wrote.
Professor Park's research focuses on sustainable energy and materials conversion pathways with emphasis on integrated Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) technologies addressing climate change. Her team investigates direct air capture of carbon dioxide, negative emission technologies including BioEnergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and sustainable construction materials with low carbon intensity.
During her tenure at Columbia, Park spearheaded interdisciplinary research and educational programs that focused on sustainable energy and decarbonization. Notably, she initiated the CarbonTech Development Initiative, a collaboration between the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy and the Center on Global Energy Policy, aimed at translational decarbonization research. Park also played a pivotal role in enhancing faculty and student diversity within her units, fostering a cultural shift toward equity, inclusion, and respect.
Park’s involvement extends beyond academia. She actively participates in collaborations with organizations such as UN Women, supporting entrepreneurship in sustainable energy in developing countries, and Columbia’s Women in Energy initiative.
Regarding her appointment at UCLA, Park expressed humility and excitement, commenting that it was a critical time for scientists in engineering and computer science because they face many grand challenges and opportunities that have tremendous social impact, such as climate change, pandemics and artificial intelligence. “I am thrilled to work with all of the members of our exceptional and diverse community — faculty, students, staff, alumni and other colleagues — to engineer change for a better future, by design, for all,“ she said.
Professor L.-S. Fan, who served as Park’s advisor during her doctoral studies at Ohio State, was not surprised to hear the news about Park’s appointment. “When Alissa first joined my group, I immediately recognized her tremendous potential," he said. "Not only did she demonstrate high proficiency in research and a talent for innovative thinking, but her outstanding interpersonal skills lifted her into a different league. Combined, these skills have opened untold pathways for her to excel as either an academic, researcher, or leading administrator. I believe that many great things lie ahead for her," he added.
In addition to her doctorate in chemical and biomolecular engineering from The Ohio State University, Park holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical and biological engineering from the University of British Columbia. She has received numerous accolades, including the Shell Thomas Baron Award in Fluid-Particle Systems at the American Institute for Chemical Engineers (AIChE) PTF (2022), the American Chemical Society ENFL Mid-Career Researcher Award (2022), the US C3E Research Award (2018), the PSRI Lectureship Award at AIChE PTF (2018), and an NSF CAREER Award (2009). Park has also led a number of global and national discussions on CCUS including the Mission Innovation Workshop in 2017. She is a Fellow of AIChE, ACS, RSC and AAAS.