Precourt Institute Directors

Acting Director

Sally M. Benson joined Stanford University in 2007 and is now a professor of energy resources engineering and director of the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), a pioneering university-industry partnership to develop innovative, low-carbon energy supplies to meet global energy needs. An internationally recognized scientist with extensive management experience, Professor Benson is responsible for guiding the development of GCEP’s diverse research portfolio. She is also serving as the acting director of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford.

Prior to coming to Stanford, Professor Benson was at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a leading research center supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by the University of California. She held a variety of key positions during her 29-year tenure at Lawrence Berkeley. From 2001 to 2004, she was deputy director of operations for the lab. She also served as director of the Earth Sciences Division and as associate laboratory director for Energy Sciences. From 1990 to 1998, she was also a visiting professor in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at Clemson University in South Carolina.

A groundwater hydrologist and reservoir engineer, Professor Benson is widely regarded as a leading authority on carbon capture and storage and emerging energy technologies. In 2012, she served as a convening lead author of the Global Energy Assessment (GEA), a multinational project coordinated by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. The GEA was the first fully integrated assessment that analyzed energy challenges, opportunities and strategies for developing, industrialized and emerging economies. The final GEA report presents a new global energy policy agenda, one that transforms the way society thinks about, uses and delivers energy.

Professor Benson’s research interests include technologies and energy systems for a low-carbon future, and energy systems analysis. At Stanford, she leads a research laboratory that studies fundamental aspects of geologic carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration in saline aquifers. In 2005, Professor Benson served as a coordinating lead author of a special report on CO2 capture and storage published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In 2007, she was one of thousands of IPCC scientists to receive the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”

The author of more than 160 scientific publications, Professor Benson is the co-founding editor of the journal, MRS Energy and Sustainability. Her contributions have been acknowledged by the 2012 Greenman Award from the IEA Greenhouse Gas Program; the ARCS 2009 American Pacesetter Award; and the 2009 Michel T. Halbouty Distinguished Lecture Award from the Geological Society of America. Since 2006, she has delivered more than 200 invited talks on topics ranging from energy policy to carbon sequestration. She has also testified at U.S. Congressional hearings on climate change technology and CO2 sequestration.

Professor Benson serves on the boards of directors of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Carbon Management Canada and Climate Central. She is a member of the advisory board of the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan; the visiting committee of the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at Clemson University; the Energy, Climate and Infrastructure advisory board of the Sandia National Laboratory; the climate change committee of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists; the BIGCCS Scientific Committee of the Research Council of Norway; the American Geophysical Union; the Society of Petroleum Engineers; and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2010, she served on the State of California’s Panel on Carbon Capture and Storage, and on the WRI Task Force on CCS in China.

Professor Benson received a B.S. in geology from Barnard College at Columbia University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in materials science and mineral engineering from the University of California-Berkeley.

Precourt Institute Staff

Program Manager

Marjorie manages the Energy and Environment Affiliate Program and reports to the EEAP’s executive director, Dr. Steve Eglash. Marjorie is responsible for executing and supporting EEAP operations; responds to requests from member companies and professors; ensures a sustained level of engagement between professors, grad students, and member companies; plans events ranging from small meetings to large conferences; administers a fellow-mentor-advisor program; arranges graduate student recruiting events; manages the EEAP budget and financial transactions; invoices members and tracks payments; maintains the company and people database; provides support for international and US visiting scholars; and assures that members receive invitations to all appropriate Stanford events.

Marjorie started at Stanford in 2002 as the fellowship administrator for the John Gardner Fellowship program and the Campus Coordinator for the Stanford in Washington program at the Haas Center for Public Service.  She then spent 5 years as the Programs and Administration Manager for the Center for Integrated Systems, an industry affiliate program under the School of Engineering.  Prior to joining Stanford, Marjorie worked as a contracts administrator for various high tech Silicon Valley companies and marketing communications administrator for Silicon Graphics.  Marjorie earned her BA in American History from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her MBA from San Jose State University.

Associate Director

Elizabeth Dahlen serves as the Associate Director of the Precourt Institute for Energy. In this role, she works closely with the faculty director to implement the Institute’s vision and strategic direction. Elizabeth is responsible for budgets and human relations and joined Precourt in 2013.

Prior to joining PIE, Elizabeth ran the Project Management Office at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Elizabeth has conducted numerous scientific and engineering investigations of failures in her work as an expert witness. She has served in a variety of volunteer roles such as being elected to the Palo Alto Utility Advisory Commission and is a board member for the Women’s Book. She holds a doctoral degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering and is a licensed Professional Engineer.

Elizabeth’s passion for energy extends to her work with Engineers Without Borders with whom she installed a 10kW photovoltaic system in the Bayonnais valley of Haiti.

Executive Director, Energy and Environment Affiliates Program

Steve is Executive Director of the Energy and Environment Affiliates Program, Industry Liaison for the Bay Area Photovoltaic Consortium, and a staff member in the Precourt Institute for Energy.  As Executive Director of the Energy and Environment Affiliates Program he is responsible for developing and managing interactions for corporations and other organizations having an interest in Stanford’s research, faculty, and graduate students in energy-related and environmental fields.  Steve brings to this position a background in renewable energy, business, technology, and finance.  The Energy and Environment Affiliates Program at Stanford University facilitates interactions between companies and other organizations, and Stanford’s faculty and graduate students, across the full range of energy-related and environmental topics.  The Affiliates Program is primarily about establishing a relationship and the exchange of ideas.  Companies benefit from access to emerging technology, out-of-the-box thinking, and innovative problem solving.  Stanford benefits from exposure to practical real-world problems, constraints, and opportunities.

Previously, Steve was President and CEO of Cyrium Technologies, a solar energy startup company, and a consultant and advisor to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy. Before that, Steve was a venture capitalist at Worldview Technology Partners where he emphasized investments in semiconductors, displays, lighting, and energy. Steve was also Vice President at SDL (JDSU) where he managed businesses in telecommunications, printing, optical amplifiers, and industrial lasers. He began his career as a research scientist at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.  Steve received a PhD and MS from Stanford University, and a BS from the University of California at Berkeley, all in Electrical Engineering.  He has more than 40 papers published in peer-reviewed journals and four patents, and is a fellow of the SPIE and a member of the IEEE and OSA.

Steve is a member of the Santa Clara University College of Arts & Sciences Leadership Board.  He is on the City of Palo Alto Utilities Advisory Commission.  Steve is involved in humanitarian projects such as the Tech Museum Awards for Technology Benefiting Humanity and the Global Social Benefit Incubator at Santa Clara University.


Mark Golden's principal responsibility is to inform the public about energy research and education at Stanford through articles, press releases, the Internet, printed materials and presentation graphics, and by aiding reporters writing about energy. His focus is on economic and policy research. Mark began work at Stanford in 2011, when he joined the Precourt Institute's communications team.

Before coming to Stanford, Mark taught in the San Francisco public schools for several years, and he was a reporter for Dow Jones & Co. for 10 years, primarily covering the U.S. natural gas and power industries. Previously he worked in Kiev, Ukraine, editing a weekly news magazine on that country's economic and political development. He also worked for Columbia University writing on public health research.

Administrative Associate

Mary provides administrative and operational support to communications, outreach, events, and general administrative functions at the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy and its related centers supporting the Associate Director for Communications, Community Building and Outreach Programs and the Associate Director for Operations.

Mary joins our administrative team and brings extensive experience in academic and research environments along with 20 years of Stanford-specific experience back to the Farm. Mary returned to the Bay Area from Boise, Idaho where she was involved with business affairs and grant management at the Center for Ecohydraulics Research. While at Stanford, Mary worked with many departments and schools; including, Information Technology, the office of the Dean of Research, the School of Humanities and Sciences and the Department of Biological Sciences.

Associate Director, Communications, Community Building and Outreach Programs

Leigh manages the PIE programs and outreach team which supports the development of the energy research agenda, strengthens the energy educational effort at Stanford, broadens and links the community of students, faculty and researchers working on energy across campus, and communicates about Stanford energy research. Signature programs include the weekly Stanford Energy Seminar; conferences and symposia including Energy@Stanford&SLAC, the GCEP Annual Research Symposium and Connecting the Dots; and a wide-range of energy research workshops. Outreach activities include the PIE website, newsletters, media relations and on-campus liaison with Stanford energy centers, Sustainable Stanford and student energy clubs. She supports the Precourt Institute Energy Advisory Council and oversees the Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship selection process for energy students. Leigh serves on the Advisory Board for the Stanford Energy Club.

Leigh started at Stanford in 2003 as project development director for the Provost Committee for the Environment, and as the first employee she served as associate director of programs at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment where she worked for seven years on a wide-range of entrepreneurial and programmatic activities. Prior to joining Stanford, Leigh worked as an account supervisor at Regis McKenna Inc. and at IBM. Non-profit commitments have included: president of the Las Lomitas Education Foundation, president of the Ragazzi Boys Chorus Board of Directors, and docent for Y2E2 building tours.  Leigh holds an A.B. degree in mathematics from Dartmouth College.

Communications Manager and Outreach Liaison

Maxine organizes and leads the external and internal communication efforts for Stanford's Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), a key center within Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE). Reporting to the PIE Program and Outreach Manager, she manages programs that develop the interaction between GCEP investigators, sponsors and students. These include the Distinguished Lecturer series which facilitates the in-depth exchange of information between GCEP's leading researchers and members of the Sponsors’ R & D organization, and the Student Energy Lectures where GCEP-funded students develop their public speaking skills and learn to convey their technical research results to a broader audience. She also helps to coordinate the GCEP annual research symposium and is responsible for the GCEP Quarterly newsletter, and the project's marketing materials and media requests.

Maxine was the second employee hired at GCEP in 2003. Prior to joining the Project, she worked as freelance producer in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and was the Creative Services Director at KTVU-TV, Channel 2, in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She graduated with an A.B. degree in mass communications from the University of California at Berkeley.


Franklin M. ("Lynn") Orr, Jr. became the director of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford upon its establishment in 2009. He served as director of the Global Climate and Energy Project from 2002 to 2008. Orr was the Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth Sciences at Stanford University from 1994 to 2002. He has been a member of the Stanford faculty since 1985 and holds the Keleen and Carlton Beal Chair of Petroleum Engineering in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering, and is a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment. His research activities focus on how complex fluid mixtures flow in the porous rocks in the Earth's crust, the design of gas injection processes for enhanced oil recovery, and CO2 storage in subsurface formations. Orr is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He serves as vice chair of the board of directors of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and he chairs the Science Advisory Committee for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and was a foundation board member from 1999-2008.

Executive Assistant

Nancy is the executive assistant to Lynn Orr, Director, Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE), and Sally Benson, Director, Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP).  She supports them in all facets of their day-to-day working and administrative lives.

Nancy started at Stanford University in 2003 with the inception of GCEP and is known as “GCEP Employee #1.”  Before joining Stanford, she worked for many years as an administrative assistant at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park.  She has a daughter and a son who are both graduates of Stanford University.

Administrative Associate

Danica joined PIE in March 2012 but has been working at Stanford since October 2007.  She brings an emphasis to detail and efficiency and has over 15 years of experience in finance and management.  Like all staff at Stanford, her main duty is to support the scholarly excellence and research being performed here. She takes great pride in this support role.

Communications & Energy Writer

Mark Shwartz has been part of the PIE communications team since 2011. His primary focus is to inform the public about the broad scope of energy technology research at Stanford through news releases, videos, electronic newsletters and the Web. Mark began his career at Stanford in 2000 as a science writer/videographer with the Stanford News Service. Before joining Stanford, he ran an independent TV production company, producing award-winning documentaries and news features for National Geographic Television, PBS, TBS and other broadcasters. Prior to that, he was a staff producer for NBC Nightly News and the Today Show, and an investigative producer with KRON-TV and KPIX-TV in San Francisco. Mark holds a B.A. in biology and a minor in journalism from the University of California-Santa Cruz.


Clare is the webmaster for the Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE), Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) and Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC).  She is responsible for overseeing all technical aspects of these websites including database & website design, development, maintenance and ongoing support. She also manages the online email marketing  communication tool, creates HTML based emails and is responsible for online event registration & reporting.  

Prior to Stanford, Clare worked at Hewlett Packard where she was the technical support for over 200 internal business consultants.  She developed database and website interfaces, conducted server administration and provided all around technical support.  She has been a web developer for over 16 years.  She has a B.S. from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Data and Administration Support Specialist

Girley Tegama currently works as the Data and Administration Support Specialist for Stanford's Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), a key center within the Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE). She previously worked in the Stanford Geophysics Department as an Administrative Associate, supported the Earth Sciences’ Geokids Outreach Program as a Volunteer, and coordinated the efforts of the International University Collaboration Program.

Program Associate

Sunny assists the Precourt Institute for Energy’s programs and outreach efforts. Her efforts are in support of developing and strengthening Stanford’s energy research, collaboration among energy programs and institutions on campus, and Stanford’s presence in energy research worldwide.

Prior to Precourt, Sunny served as communication specialist for the Freeman Spogli Institute’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development. Sunny holds an MPP in Environmental Policy from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Public Administration with a minor in Speech Communication from California State University, Fullerton.

Associate Director of Development, Environment and Energy Programs

Clare Wildenborg is Associate Director of Development for Energy and Environment Programs at Stanford University. She originally joined Stanford’s Office of Development in 2005 as a member of the External Relations team at Stanford Law School and later served as the Assistant Director of External Relations for the Initiatives during The Stanford Challenge.

Clare earned a BA in English from Loras College in Dubuque, IA and an MA in English from Winona State University in Winona, MN.

Financial Management Analyst, GCEP & PEEC

Ingrid is the financial management analyst for the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) and Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC). She manages the financial aspects of all sponsored research awards for GCEP, including budgeting, proposal processing, administration, invoicing, reporting and analysis. She also administers some financial aspects of university research awards for PEEC.

Ingrid joined GCEP in 2007 and PEEC in 2010. Prior to coming to Stanford, she worked at various companies, including two high-tech startups in the Silicon Valley: Candescent Technologies Corp and Gemfire Corp. Ingrid earned a BA from Fudan University in Shanghai and an MA from Stanford University.

Event and Outreach Program Planner

Miki Yu joined Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE) as an Event and Outreach Program Planner.  In this role she will help shape the programs that PIE, TomKat Center and GCEP offer as they build greater visibility within the Stanford community, the energy community at large, and throughout the world.

Miki started at Stanford working for the Office of Development in 2002, where she reported to the Vice President’s office.  She then joined the Stanford Challenge Campaign as an initial team member, working with OOD partners and engaging volunteers and donors at every stage to build and direct momentum for The Stanford Challenge campaign.  She was instrumental in executing the Leading Matters component of the campaign, which achieved record breaking attendance and engagement results.