Dr. Dirks is director of the Global Institute of Sustainability and director of LightWorks, an Arizona State University initiative that capitalizes on ASU's strengths in solar energy and other light-inspired research. He is also the Julie Wrigley Chair of Sustainable Practices and a professor of practice in the School of Sustainability and former member of the Board of Trustees for Sustainability @ ASU.
Before joining ASU, Dirks was the president of BP Asia-Pacific and the president of BP China. In China, he grew BP from an operation with fewer than 30 employees and no revenue to more than 1,300 employees and revenues of about $4 billion in 2008.
BP has been recognized for its innovative approach to business, particularly through projects that support sustainable development and energy security. Dirks has served on the boards of the India Council for Sustainable Development, the U.S. China Center for Sustainable Development, and the China Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Dirks received China's "Friendship Award" in 2003 and received an honorary CMG (Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George) from the United Kingdom in 2005. In December 2008 he was recognized by the People's Daily as one of the 10 most influential multinational company leaders of the last 30 years of China's economic development.
Dirks received a Ph.D. in chemistry from ASU in 1980. He was the first doctoral student to work in the Center for the Study of Early Events in Photosynthesis (now the Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis).