Prof Mary Anne White

D.B. Robinson Distinguished Speaker Series 2012-2013

Sustainable Approaches to Energy Harvesting and Storage


Our current global consumption of energy is not sustainable. There are many approaches that can improve our situation, and research is an important aspect. However, an objective, quantitative view is required. In this talk, I will present some of our recent research results in two areas: thermoelectric materials for conversion of waste heat to useable power, and phase-change heat-storage materials for solar energy applications. I also will present a framework for sustainable approaches to materials research for energy harvesting and storage.


Mary Anne presently holds the distinguished title of University Research Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She received a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Western Ontario in 1975 and a PhD from McMaster University in 1979. Both universities have since awarded her a Doctor of Science (honoris causa), McMaster University in 2008, and the University of Western Ontario in 2011. Before coming to Dalhousie University in 1983, Mary Anne held a postdoctoral fellowship at Oxford University, and then an NSERC University Research Fellow at University of Waterloo. In 2002 she became the founding director of the Institute for Research in Materials at Dalhousie University. She is presently the Director of the DREAMS (Dalhousie Research in Energy, Advanced Materials and Sustainability - see program, which won a 2012 award from the American Chemical Society for exemplary contributions to the incorporation of sustainability into chemical education.

Mary Anne's interests are in energetics and thermal properties of materials. She has made significant contributions to understanding how heat is stored and conducted through materials. Her work has led to new materials that can convert waste heat to energy, and materials that can trap solar energy. Mary Anne is an author of more than 150 research papers and also a textbook, "Physical Properties of Materials," now in its second edition, and used worldwide. She also is Editor for Materials Science for the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. She has trained more than 30 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and more than 50 undergraduate research students.

Mary Anne’s abilities as an educator have been recognized by the Dalhousie University Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence and the Union Carbide Award for Chemical Education from the Chemical Institute of Canada. Mary Anne has given more than 150 invited presentations at conferences, universities, government laboratories and industries around the world.

In addition to teaching and research, Mary Anne has served NSERC (most recently a Member of NSERC Council), the Canadian Society for Chemistry (Board Member), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (Member of the Founding Board) and several scientific organizations. She has served Nova Scotia as a member of the board of the Nova Scotia Museum, and as a member of the Premier’s Innovation Council of Nova Scotia.

Mary Anne has been active throughout her career in bringing science to the general public. This includes: helping establish the Discovery Centre in Halifax; many presentations for schools, the general public and others (including a lecture for Members of Canada’s Parliament and Senate in the Bacon & Egghead series); booklets on science activities for children (published by the Canadian Society for Chemistry); national organizer of National Chemistry Week; more than 150 articles for educators or the general public; appearances on television. Since 2001, she has been a regular contributor on CBC Radio’s “Maritime Noon” where she fields listeners’ science questions, live on air to an audience of about 20,000. For her contributions to public awareness of science, Mary Anne was awarded the 2007 McNeil Medal of the Royal Society of Canada.

Dr. Mary Anne White'

Dr. Mary Anne White

Dalhousie University, CanadaM

Date and time:

(Thursday) November 15, 2013 at 3:30pm


Engineering Teaching and Learning Complex (ETLC) 1-001