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Colloquium: Susannah Scott (University of California, Santa Barbara)

February 3, 2020 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Shriram 104

Susannah Scott
Duncan & Suzanne Mellichamp Professor in Sustainability
Chemical Engineering
University of California, Santa Barbara


Abstract: Controlling the near-surface molecular composition in solid catalysts through solvent effects and surface modification

Liquid phase transformations at surfaces and in porous materials can be strongly influenced by partitioning of solvents, reactants, and products between the bulk liquid phase and the surface or pore volume. We are studying these effects at the molecular level by probing the molecular composition of the solid-liquid interface, while simultaneously observing the kinetics of catalytic reactions using operando magic-angle-spinning NMR spectroscopy in combination with ex situ methods. Tuning both the solvent composition and the surface composition allow the interfacial concentrations to be optimized. The findings shed light on the origin of non-monotonic activity and selectivity trends, as well as changes in mechanism for solid base-catalyzed carbohydrate isomerization and metal-catalyzed hydrogenolysis reactions.

Biographical Summary of Susannah Scott:

Scott received her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Iowa State University, under the direction of Jim Espenson and Andreja Bakac, working on the activation of O2 and transition metal-catalyzed oxidation mechanisms. She was a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow with Jean-Marie Basset at the Institut de recherches sur la catalyse (CNRS) in Lyon, France, before joining the faculty of the University of Ottawa (Canada) where she was named a Canada Research Chair. In 2003, she moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she currently holds the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Chair in Sustainable Catalysis. She holds joint faculty appointments as a Distinguished Professor in both Chemical Engineering and in Chemistry & Biochemistry.  She is an Associate Editor for ACS Catalysis, a member of the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science, and a member of Scientific Advisory Boards at the Fritz Haber Institute, SUNCAT, SSRL, NREL, JBEI, Ames Lab, and PNNL. Her  research interests include the design of heterogeneous catalysts with well-defined active sites for the efficient conversion of conventional and new feedstocks, as well as environmental catalysts to promote air and water quality. She develops new kinetic and spectroscopic methods to probe reaction mechanisms. In 2014, she founded the Mellichamp Academic Initiative in Sustainable Manufacturing and Product Design at UC Santa Barbara, where she now leads an interdisciplinary program in research and education involving about 30 faculty from chemistry, chemical engineering, materials, environmental science, industrial ecology, technology management, political science, economics, and science communication.


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