STEM Professional of the week



Emilio Bunel, Ph.D.      
Argonne National Laboratory




As a young man growing up in Chile, Emilio Bunel had his sights set on one thing ¬- to pursue an academic career and work as a professor of chemistry.   But a career in education did not develop as a series of what he considers fortunate events in his life led the scientist and inventor to be deeply involved in the world of research.

In 1985, after earning his master’s degree, Emilio  made the decision to move his young family to the United States to pursue his Ph.D. in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology under the guidance of Professor John E. Bercaw, one of the nation’s most distinguished chemists. Recognized as a “mentor’s mentor,” Professor Bercaw helped Emilio find strong direction for his own research and helped him establish the robust professional network that he has maintained throughout his scientific course. Dr. Bunel planned to return home after completing his graduate studies, however, a fulltime opportunity with Delaware’s DuPont Central Research and Development Organization, influenced his decision to remain in the U.S. 

After a decade with DuPont and a subsequent successful 5 year stint as a research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, he felt it was time to return to basic science. In 2008, he found himself back in his element as the Director of the Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division at Argonne National Laboratory, where he has remained since. Dr. Bunel leads a science-based research, development, and early-stage engineering organization that conducts both fundamental and applied research in chemistry and chemical engineering. 

He is also responsible for leading Argonne’s internationally recognized electrochemical energy storage program, which includes a world-class center for lithium battery Research & Development. During his tenure at Argonne, he has structured a highly efficient organization with an excellent safety record. The division has experienced a growth larger than twenty percent, as reflected by the number of staff members hired in the last five years.

For over three decades, Dr. Bunel has made great contributions as a scientist in his exceptional service as a laboratory leader. His impact on science and technology can be judged by the 19 U.S. patents which list him as sole or co-inventor. Perhaps using skills acquired from his own mentor, Dr. Bunel has a gift for recognizing talent and providing timely, thoughtful mentorship and guidance.  He inspires his team to be more creative, take risks and explore new challenges. Dr. Bunel's dedication, integrity and commitment to mentoring the next generation of scientists, make him an inspirational and influential leader. 

Dr. Bunel holds a master’s in chemical engineering from the University of Chile and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. Great Minds in STEM honored him with a Luminary Award, which he accepted during the 2014 HENAAC Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.



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