Tom Gennett named new head of Chemistry Department

A veteran scientist with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with two decades of experience in academia has been named the new head of the Department of Chemistry at Colorado School of Mines.

Dr. Thomas Gennett will join Mines after nine years at NREL, in Golden, Colo. For the last two years, he has also served as director of the DOE-EERE Hydrogen Storage Characterization and Optimization Research Effort, or HySCORE, which seeks to discover new materials and investigate the mechanism of room-temperature hydrogen sorption for carbon and framework sorbents as well as develop next-generation characterization methodologies applicable to gas-sorption. HySCORE is a collaboration between several national laboratories.

Gennett’s research interests include hydrogen storage characterization and optimization, fundamental charge transfer processes in stable free-radical organic polymer material systems, non-pgm catalysts and hybrid hard-soft materials for energy storage. Gennett holds a BA in chemistry from the State University of New York at Potsdam and a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Vermont. He was a professor of chemistry and materials Science at Rochester Institute of Technology for 18 years and holds the title of emeritus.

Gennett officially joines Mines on July 1, taking over for Professor David Wu, who has served as department head since 2012. 

Gennett first came to Mines while on sabbatical at NREL. At that time, he met with Chemistry Professor Dan Knauss, then the department head, and discussed Knauss’ new vision for the department. Gennett joined the NREL staff in 2008. Over the last 20 years, Gennett has had many interactions with Mines, including collaborations with metallurgical and materials engineering faculty Ryan O’Hayre and Corinne Packard and Chemistry Professor Ryan Richards. 

“Dan Knauss had a great vision for this department and definitely started it off on its current trajectory,” said Gennett. “And David Wu has taken in from there. It’s truly amazing the change they were able to institute in the department. They’ve made the Mines Chemistry Department a research leader comparable to any other program, and this is an unbelievable opportunity to now take over one of the most desirable positions in academic chemistry.”

Gennett is already meeting with staff and creating plans for the department.

“The challenges moving forward will be maintaining our top research position while also increasing enrollment,” said Gennett. “We will have a series of meetings in the next months and come up with a departmental plan for the next five years and beyond. The opportunities are there, and we have the faculty to obtain them.” 

Mike Kaufman, dean of the College of Applied Science and Engineering which is home to the Chemistry Department, is excited to have Gennett join Mines. 

“Tom brings great experience to the department and is passionate about working with the faculty, staff in Chemistry and his colleagues across campus to ensure that the positive trajectory set by Professors Knauss and Wu continues,” said Kaufman.

Outside of work, Gennett is an avid runner and the single parent of two girls, ages 10 and 13. He lives in Denver.

Megan Hanson, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science and Engineering | 303-384-2358 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |