Ben is excited to be working in reverse

Dr. Ben Tutolo in his lab

You may find Associate Professor Ben Tutolo, at certain times of the year, quietly fly-casting for trout somewhere Southwest of Calgary. But don’t let his zen-like appearance fool you. He’s probably thinking about climate change and how he can use aqueous geochemistry to figure out a way to dissolve CO2 and turn it into rock. Ben Tutolo is on the cutting edge of global climate solutions research – work that has world-changing implications.

Climate change provided the kind of problem that Ben was eager to tackle. With a background in hydrogeology and aqueous geochemistry, he brings experience and passion to a process that is turning people’s perception of what earth science is.

Dr. Ben Tutolo

As a society we’ve been deeply focused on taking fossil fuels out of the ground and burning them. We are trying to literally reverse that by creating a scalable process to take CO2 out of our atmosphere and turn it into rock.”

Dr. Ben Tutolo

Dr. Tutolo and colleague Rachel Lauer are developing a solution to our planet’s biggest challenge – and it’s getting noticed. Together, they’re part of a team of engineers, social scientists, lawyers, and geophysicists, from industry and academia, that are collaborating to not just stop the production of CO2 but remove it altogether by leveraging wind and wave energy, carbon capture technologies, and the vast quantities of basaltic rocks covering our planet.

“The 21st Century is often hailed as the age of biology, but really, it’s been the age of geochemistry. Thinking about the way our earth naturally sucks up CO2 and then using geoscience to operationalize that knowledge and implement solutions with industry in a scalable way is critical to our planet’s survival. It’s also exciting.”

Venture capitalists and high-profile podcasters are asking Rachel and Ben how they can get involved. Hundreds of non-science majors are taking their classes each year and sharing their  expertise and ideas. Students play a unique role in their work. While completing their studies many students have published papers in top technical journals. For undergrads, collaborating on research projects positions them for a master’s degree or industry work, but it can also be a jumping off point for a new career.

Ben is convinced today’s earth scientists are our future’s problem solvers. He says the way we interact with our environment is earth science and understanding how the earth responds to what we do, and learning from our past how the earth acted, is critical to mitigating the effects of our actions today.

“One of the coolest things about earth science is the scale in which we think of things.”, says Ben. “We can go deep into our past by studying rocks and use that work to better understand our near future and figure out ways of making life better.”