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NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Award

NSF has awarded Matthew Hennefarth the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) award

Matthew Hennefarth is a second-year theoretical chemistry PhD student and a member of Professor Laura Gagliardi’s research group. He is interested in electronic structure methods which are applicable to studying quantum dynamics and light-matter interactions. He is currently developing a new multi-state pair density functional theory which can give the correct potential energy surface topology near conical intersections, respect spatial and spin symmetry when present, and generate quantitatively accurate molecular properties. Ultimately, Matthew wishes to apply this method to various iron-sulfur cluster proteins which play important roles in photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and nitrogen fixation to name a few.

Omar Farha named one of Illinois Science & Technology Coalition’s (ISTC) 2022 Researchers to Know!

The Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC) has announced its fifth annual list of Researchers to Know from universities across Illinois. Omar Farha has been highlighted as a leading researcher in complex materials and processes. This annual list showcases the groundbreaking research being done on Illinois’ campuses, and provides a detailed look at some of the researchers that are driving innovation in the state. This year’s cohort includes those working to protect the environment and mitigate climate change; advancing energy & sustainability; pioneering cybersecurity and analytics; and advancing medical technology and life sciences. Congratulations Omar!



Catalyst Design for Decarbonization Center (CD4DC) Kick-Off Meeting

The Catalyst Design for Decarbonization Center (CD4DC), a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC), is based at the University of Chicago. PIs, senior scientists, junior researchers, and the Scientific Advisory Board gathered at The Study at University of Chicago for the Kick-Off Meeting on October 10 -11, 2022. Let the science begin!

U.S. Department of Energy awards $12.5 million to UChicago for new Energy Frontier Research Center

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded researchers at the University of Chicago $12.5 million to advance work aimed at finding innovative solutions for long-lasting hydrogen energy research — potentially offering a zero-emission alternative to fossil fuels.

“Meeting the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious climate and clean energy goals will require a game-changing commitment to clean energy — and that begins with researchers across the country,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The research projects announced today will strengthen the scientific foundations needed for the United States to maintain world leadership in clean energy innovation, from renewable power to carbon management.”

The Catalyst Design for Decarbonization Center, or CD4DC, will be the first center of its kind based at the University of Chicago and will be led by Laura Gagliardi, the Richard and Kathy Leventhal Professor at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, the Department of Chemistry, and the James Franck Institute. Gagliardi also is the director of the Chicago Center for Theoretical Chemistry. Six other UChicago investigators will join Gagliardi — John AndersonChibueze AmanchukwuAndrew FergusonIan FosterJuan de Pablo, and Anna Wuttig.

CD4DC logo
Logo for the Catalyst Design for Decarbonization Center (CD4DC). (Courtesy of the CD4DC)

The call to decarbonize the chemical and energy industries requires the reduction and eventual elimination of fossil fuels. Accomplishing that goal will require the adoption of radically new approaches for producing chemicals and storing electric power harvested from the wind and sun.

“By expanding our fundamental understanding of these chemical processes, we will be able to help address one of humanity’s biggest global challenges—climate change,” Gagliardi said. “Collectively, we must invent new, renewable sources of energy. The mission of the CD4DC is to offer an efficient, pragmatic solution that will impact society for the better, sooner.”

Hydrogen may serve as an ideal alternative, being abundant and far more energy dense. Future applications may also include converting electric power to chemical energy through electrolysis. However, new catalysts (substances that increase the rate of a chemical reaction) are needed to facilitate those transformations. The central mission of the CD4DC is to discover and develop such catalysts to optimize the catalytic reactions involved.

Based at the University of Chicago, the CD4DC will partner with researchers at Argonne National LaboratoryClemson UniversityNorthwestern UniversityPacific Northwest National LaboratoryStony Brook University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Minnesota.

The Energy Frontier Research Center program was established by the Department of Energy in 2009 and designed to bring together creative, multi-disciplinary scientific teams to tackle the toughest scientific challenges preventing advances in energy technologies.

Funding for the CD4DC comes from the DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

U.S. Department of Energy awards $12.5 million to UChicago for new Energy Frontier Research Center