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Bits & Watts Initiative is a cross-campus effort of the Precourt Institute for Energy.

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Sally Benson

Precourt Family Professor, Professor of Energy Science Engineering and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment
Sally M. Benson, who joined Stanford University in 2007, is the Precourt Family Professor in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; she studies technologies and pathways to reducing greenhouse gas emissions including geologic storage of CO2 in deep underground formations and energy systems analysis for a low-carbon future. From 2021 to 2023 she was on leave from the University to serve as the Energy Division Director and Chief Strategist for the Energy Transition at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Prior to this, she served as the Co-Director of the Stanford Center for Carbon Storage and the Stanford Carbon Removal Initiative. From 2013 to 2020, she served at the Director and Co-Director of the Precourt Institute for Energy. She also served as the Director of the Global Climate and Energy Project from 2009 to 2019.

Prior to joining Stanford, Benson was Division Director for Earth Sciences, Associate Laboratory Director for Energy Sciences and Deputy Director at LBNL.

Professor Benson currently is a member of the Breakthrough Energy Innovation Council and a Board Member of the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute. In 2023 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has previously served on the Board of Directors for Climate Central and from 2008 to 2020 on the Board of Directors of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. She also served on the Advisory Boards for Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Argonne National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Princeton’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative, Princeton’s Adlinger Center, Japan’s Initiative for the Cool Earth Forum, Climate Vault, and the Lahore University of Management Science in Pakistan. Over the past several years she participated in a number of National Academy of Sciences, Secretary of Energy, and National Petroleum Council research needs assessments related to carbon management. She also is on the Editorial Board for Energy and Environmental Sciences.


Ph.D, University of California, Berkeley, Material Science & Mineral Engineering (1988)
M.Sc., University of California, Berkeley, Material Science & Mineral Engineering (1984)
B.A., Barnard College, Columbia University, Geology (1977)