Daniel G. Nocera

The Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy and Professor of Chemistry
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Chemistry

Ph.D. California Institute of Technology, 1984
B.S. Rutgers University, 1979

Daniel G. Nocera is the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is widely recognized as a leading researcher in renewable energy at the molecular level. Nocera studies the basic mechanisms of energy conversion in biology and chemistry with primary focus in recent years on the photogeneration of hydrogen and oxygen from water. This reaction requires the coupling of multielectron processes to protons with light as an input. Nocera has provided most of the known examples of multielectron photoreactions in recent years during which he solved an 80-year problem in bonding theory. He created the field of proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) at a mechanistic level. With multielectron and PCET frameworks in place, he has demonstrated light-driven hydrogen and oxygen generating cycles.


Nocera is a frequent guest on TV (ABC Nightline, PBS, NOVA, Discovery Channel in the U.S. and Explora in Europe) and radio (NPR). He developed the pilot that was used to begin the new PBS science program ScienceNow. His NOVA show was nominated for a 2006 Emmy Award. He worked with Robert Krulwich and OddTodd to develop a five part series on The Lifestyle of Carbon, which is now being distributed by the National Geographic. He was recently awarded the Eni-Italgas Prize (2005), IAPS Award (2006) and Burghausen Prize (2007) for his contributions to the development of renewable energy. Nocera has supervised 85 Ph.D. graduate and postdoctoral students, published over 225 papers, given over 450 invited talks and 26 named lectureships. Nocera has worked with the President’s of five universities to set-up energy initiatives at their institutions. He is currently working with several politicians, artists in the U.S and abroad, actors and producers, and major business leaders in the U.S. to help them develop a position that contributes positively to the energy and sustainability challenge confronting this planet.


Born in 1957, Nocera received his early education at Rutgers University, where he was a Rutgers Scholar, obtaining a B.S. in 1979 with highest honors. He moved to Pasadena where he began research on the electron transfer reactions of biological and inorganic systems with Professor Harry Gray at the California Institute of Technology. After earning his Ph.D. in 1984, he went on to take up a faculty appointment at Michigan State University. He joined the Massachusetts Institute of technology as Professor of Chemistry in 1997. He has been the recipient of numerous awards for scientific achievement, among them the Dreyfus Foundation Grant for Newly Appointed Faculty, a Sigma Xi Junior Research Award, appointment as a Presidential Young Investigator, and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow. He was named a College and University Distinguished Professor in 1996 and 1997, respectively. In 2005, the same year that he received the Italgas Prize, he was elected to the American Academy of Sciences. He currently serves on editorial boards of Accounts of Chemical Research, Inorganic Chemistry, the Journal of the American Chemical Society and Comments in Organic Chemistry and was the inaugural Editor of Inorganic Chemistry Communications.


Nocera's faculty webpage at MIT can be found here.