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Reference | Agenda | Argonne National Laboratory

America Resilient Keynote Speakers

America Resilient: Projecting and Preparing for the Effects of Climate Change — A free virtual climate conference convened by Argonne National Laboratory

Jennifer Granholm
U.S. Secretary of Energy

Jennifer M. Granholm was sworn in as the 16th Secretary of Energy on February 25, 2021, becoming just the second woman to lead the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Secretary Granholm will lead DOE in helping America achieve President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by advancing cutting-edge clean energy technologies, creating millions of good-paying union clean energy jobs, and building an equitable clean energy future. Secretary Granholm will also oversee DOE’s core missions of promoting American leadership in scientific discovery, maintaining the nuclear deterrent and reducing nuclear danger, and remediating the environmental harms caused by legacy defense programs.

Prior to her nomination as Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm was the first woman elected Governor of Michigan, serving two terms from 2003 to 2011.

As Governor, Jennifer Granholm faced economic downturns caused by the Great Recession and meltdown in the automotive and manufacturing sectors. She successfully led efforts to diversify the state’s economy, strengthen its auto industry, preserve the manufacturing sector, and add emerging sectors — such as clean energy — to Michigan’s economic portfolio. Today, one-third of all North American electric vehicle battery production takes place in Michigan, the state is one of the top five states for clean energy patents, and 126,000 Michiganders were employed in the clean energy sector prior to COVID-19.

Secretary Granholm was also the first woman elected Attorney General of Michigan and served as the state’s top law enforcement officer from 1998 to 2002.

After two terms as governor, Jennifer Granholm joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley as a Distinguished Professor of Practice in the Goldman School of Public Policy, focusing on the intersection of law, clean energy, manufacturing, policy, and industry. She also served as an advisor to the Clean Energy Program of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Jennifer Granholm began her career in public service as a judicial clerk for Michigan's 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. She became a federal prosecutor in Detroit in 1990, and in 1994, she was appointed Wayne County Corporation Counsel.

Secretary Granholm, an immigrant from Canada, is an honors graduate of both the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Law School. She and her husband, Daniel G. Mulhern, have three children.

Sean Casten
U.S. Representative

Sean Casten represents Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, located in western suburbs of Chicago. Rep. Casten serves on the House Financial Services Committee, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and is a Co-Chair on the New Democrat Coalition Climate Change Task Force. As a scientist, clean energy entrepreneur, author, and now as a Member of Congress, Casten has dedicated his life to fighting climate change.

Rep. Casten earned a Bachelor of Arts in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Middlebury College in 1993, and then worked for two years as a scientist at the Tufts University School of Medicine in a laboratory investigating dietary impacts on colon and breast cancer. In 1998, he earned a Master of Engineering Management and a Master of Science in Biochemical Engineering from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. 

Rep. Casten worked as a clean energy consultant and manager at Arthur D. Little from 1997 to 2000. He then served as the president and CEO of Turbosteam Corporation. In 2006, Casten co-founded Recycled Energy Development (RED), which focused on recycling wasted energy and converting energy facilities to cleaner, more economic uses. RED built, owned, and operated industrially-sited waste energy recovery plants throughout North America. 

In Congress, Rep. Casten draws upon his previous private sector experience in order to craft market-based solutions that adequately address the threat of climate change in an effective, sustainable way. 

While working diligently in Washington on behalf of Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, Rep. Casten is also committed to keeping in close contact with his constituents, believing in the benefit of hearing the views and ideas of all of the people he represents. Sean and his wife Kara live in Downers Grove, Illinois, with their two daughters, Gwen and Audrey, who attend the local public schools.

Shalanda H. Baker  
Deputy Director for Energy Justice
U.S. Department of Energy

Shalanda H. Baker is the Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy. Prior to her appointment, she was a Professor of Law, Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. She has spent over a decade conducting research on the equity dimensions of the global transition away from fossil fuel energy to cleaner energy resources. She is the author of over a dozen articles, book chapters, and essays on renewable energy law, energy justice, energy policy, and renewable energy development. In 2016, she received a Fulbright-Garcia-Robles research fellowship to study climate change, energy policy, and indigenous rights in Mexico. She is the Co-Founder and former Co-Director of the Initiative for Energy Justice (, an organization committed to providing technical law and policy support to communities on the frontlines of climate change.

Paul Kearns  
Director, Argonne National Laboratory

Paul Kearns has served as director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory since 2017. Kearns manages a growing multidisciplinary science and engineering research center with a $1.2 billion diversified research portfolio and more than 3,300 employees, 8,000 facility users, and 800 visiting researchers. Kearns served as Argonne chief operations officer from 2010 to 2017.

Kearns is a biologist and accomplished steward of diverse resources to achieve ambitious goals in energy, environment, and national security. For over 30 years, Kearns has managed complex research and development enterprises by prioritizing science and technology leadership, operations excellence, and world-class talent.

Juan de Pablo
Vice President for National Laboratories, Science, Strategy, Innovation and Global Initiatives and Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago; Senior Scientist, Argonne National Laboratory  

As the Vice President for National Laboratories, Science Strategy, Innovation, and Global Initiatives, Juan de Pablo provides leadership for the University’s stewardship of two U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories — Argonne and Fermilab— as institutions to advance science and technology in support of the nation’s interest. de Pablo collaborates with other leaders in research and innovation to build programs and links between and among the national laboratories and the University, as well as the Marine Biological Laboratory. Working with President Robert J. Zimmer, he plays an essential role in the University’s partnership with the Department of Energy.

A prominent materials scientist, de Pablo’s research focuses on polymers, biological macromolecules, and liquid crystals, a diverse class of materials widely used in many fields of engineering. He is also a leader in developing molecular models and computer simulations of complex processes over wide ranges of length and time scales. He heads a research group that develops advanced algorithms to design and predict the structure and properties of complex fluids and solids at a molecular level.

As a key leader for the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, de Pablo’s work has been essential to the School's development and remarkable growth. He joined the University in 2012 as a member of the first set of the School's faculty appointments. He came from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he served as the Howard Curler Distinguished Professor and Hilldale Professor of Chemical Engineering. He was awarded the 2018 Polymer Physics Prize by the American Physical Society.

de Pablo earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, as well as a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. de Pablo was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2016 for “design of macromolecular products and processes via scientific computation.” He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and is a foreign correspondent member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences.