Michael Wasielewski

Michael R. Wasielewski received his bachelor of science (1971) and PhD (1975) degrees from the University of Chicago. Following his graduate work, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University. He then moved to the Argonne National Laboratory, where he rose through the ranks to become senior scientist and group leader of the Molecular Photonics Group.

In 1994, he joined the faculty of Northwestern University, where he is currently a professor of chemistry. He served as chair of the Department of Chemistry at Northwestern from 2001-2004. He is currently the director of the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center, and also holds an appointment as senior scientist in the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne.

Wasielewski's research has resulted in more than 330 publications. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1995, and has held numerous distinguished lectureships and fellowships. Among his recent awards are the 2008 Porter Medal for Photochemistry, the 2006 James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry of the American Chemical Society, and the 2004 Photochemistry Research Award of the Inter-American Photochemical Society.

Content by Michael Wasielewski


Carbon-neutral energy sources, especially the “Big 3”—solar, wind, and nuclear power—have the potential to relieve our dependence on fossil fuels and lessen our impact on global warming. However, for any of these possibilities to surpass fossil fuels as a real, widespread solution, the price must be right.


A model of a self-assembling group of molecules that mimic photosynthesis by transferring electrons. Molecular structures like this one may someday be used in organic solar cells.

The sun—our lives literally revolve around it. Now, researchers are working to harness its power as the ultimate renewable energy source, making it an unlikely ally in the fight against climate change.