David Wilkinson

PEng, FEIC, FCAE, FCIC, FRSC, Canadian Research Chair in Clean Energy and Electrochemical Technologies; Professor, Chemical & Biological Engineering, UBC


David Wilkinson, a professor in UBC’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and an internationally recognized expert in electrochemical technologies, has been named a member of the Order of Canada “[f]or his contributions to electrochemical science and engineering, particularly the ongoing development of fuel cell technology.”  

One of the country’s highest civilian honours, the Order aims to recognize people “whose service shapes our society, whose innovations ignite our imaginations, and whose compassion unites our communities.”  

Wilkinson joined the faculty of UBC’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2004 as a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Clean Energy and Fuel Cells. He had previously held key positions at Moli Energy, where he was part of the team that developed the world’s first commercial rechargeable lithium AA battery, and Ballard Power Systems, which he helped transform into a world leader in fuel cell and hydrogen technology over the course of his 13 years at the company.  

Before coming to UBC, Wilkinson was also a principal research officer and group leader at the National Research Council Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation, where he established a leading research and development group and laboratory in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell technology. He continued his affiliation with the Institute until 2012.   

At UBC, Wilkinson has served as executive director of the Clean Energy Research Center and as principal investigator in the NanoMat: CREATE Nanomaterials Science and Technology program and the RES’EAU WaterNet strategic network. Together with students in his lab, he developed an electrochemical reactor that converts carbon dioxide and saline wastewater — harmful byproducts of the oil and gas industry — into value-added chemicals and reusable water. The company they formed, Mangrove Water Technologies, won the Emissions Reduction Alberta Grand Challenge, a five-year global competition aimed at accelerating the development of innovative technologies or processes that can turn carbon dioxide into valuable goods or materials.   

One of the most highly cited researchers in his field, Wilkinson has over 80 issued patents and more than 225 refereed publications. Among his numerous honours are the R.A. McLachlan Memorial award, the R.S. Jane Memorial Award, the UBC Faculty of Applied Science Dean’s Medal of Distinction and the UBC Killam Research Award. He is also a fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the Chemical Institute of Canada and the Royal Society of Canada. 

The Governor General of Canada announced 114 new appointments to the Order of Canada on November 27, 2020. For the full list, please see the official news release.