McConnell has joined the University of Houston Energy program in 2018 as the Executive Director for Carbon Management and Energy Sustainability. He will coordinate a campus-wide effort to address marketplace challenges in the energy industry. All disciplines of research in science, engineering, business economics, law and policy will work closely with UH energy industry partners in oil and gas, petrochemicals, and the electric power markets to collaborate on new technologies, policies and business models for the future.
Prior to joining UH Energy, McConnell was the executive director of the Energy and Environment Initiative at Rice University for the past 5 years.
McConnell served as the Assistant Secretary of Energy in the US Department of Energy from 2011-13 and was responsible for the Office of Fossil Energy’s strategic policy leadership, budgets, project management, and research and development of the department's coal, oil and gas, and advanced technologies programs, as well as for the operations and management of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the National Energy Technologies Laboratories.
Prior to the DOE from 2009-11, McConnell served as Vice President of Carbon Management at Battelle Energy Technology in Columbus, Ohio .The initial 32 years of McConnell’s career were with Praxair, Inc. serving in a variety of operations, sales and global business and technology roles including hydrogen, gasification and energy as the Global VP of Energy and Hydrogen. Assignments also included an ex-pat posting in Singapore for Asia business.
McConnell currently serves on the US EPA Science Advisory Board, is a board member of the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) Foundation in North Dakota, is a member of the National Coal Council, has served on the Society of Petroleum Engineers and National Petroleum Council subcommittees, and has held a number of board positions including chairmanships of the Gasification & Syngas Technologies Council and the Clean Carbon Technology Foundation of Texas. McConnell holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University (1977) and an MBA in finance from Cleveland State University (1984).