Announcement of 2021–2022 Emmett Award Winners

I am pleased to announce the win­ners of the 2021–2022 the Paul H. Emmett Award in Fun­da­men­tal Catal­y­sis. This award rec­og­nizes and encour­ages indi­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions in the field of catal­y­sis with empha­sis on dis­cov­ery and under­stand­ing of cat­alyt­ic phe­nom­e­na, pro­pos­al of cat­alyt­ic reac­tion mech­a­nisms and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of and descrip­tion of cat­alyt­ic sites and species. The award win­ner must not have turned 46 on April 1st of the award year. The award con­sists of a plaque and an hon­o­rar­i­um of $5,000. The plaque will be pre­sent­ed dur­ing the clos­ing ban­quet cer­e­monies at the next North Amer­i­can Meet­ing of the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety (NAM27 in New York City). The awardees will also present a Ple­nary Lec­ture at the NAM meet­ing.

The NACS Board has recent­ly approved to hon­or up to two Emmett awardees every two years. The two awardees for the 2021–2022 cycle are (list­ed alpha­bet­i­cal­ly):

2021 Win­ner: Pro­fes­sor Thomas Jaramil­lo of Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty

2022 Win­ner: Pro­fes­sor Beat­riz Roldan Cuenya of the Fritz Haber Insti­tute

Pro­fes­sor Jaramil­lo is rec­og­nized for his efforts in the design and devel­op­ment of cat­a­lysts for sus­tain­able chem­i­cal process­es. Jaramillo’s research has deep­ened our under­stand­ing of cat­alyt­ic mech­a­nisms and inter­fa­cial phe­nom­e­na, lead­ing to cat­a­lyst sys­tems with improved prop­er­ties, and serv­ing as a foun­da­tion for the devel­op­ment of new tech­nolo­gies. This includes, for instance, process­es that employ renew­able ener­gy for the sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion of fuels and chem­i­cals. In this respect, Jaramil­lo has syn­the­sized and inves­ti­gat­ed advanced cat­a­lyst sys­tems for hydro­gen (H2) pro­duc­tion by water elec­trol­y­sis and by solar pho­to­elec­tro­chem­istry, as well as for the elec­tro­chem­i­cal con­ver­sion of CO2 to pro­duce valu­able car­bon-based prod­ucts, e.g. acetalde­hyde and ethanol, among oth­er process­es. Much of Jaramillo’s work has focused on devel­op­ing cat­a­lysts from earth-abun­dant ele­ments, either min­i­miz­ing or avoid­ing the use of pre­cious met­als. A key aspect of his research has involved method devel­op­ment, includ­ing cat­a­lyst bench­mark­ing efforts, new reac­tor designs, cou­pling ana­lyt­i­cal chem­istry tech­niques for the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and quan­tifi­ca­tion of reac­tion prod­ucts, and operan­do meth­ods to study cat­a­lysts under true oper­at­ing con­di­tions. Jaramillo’s research has advanced cat­a­lyst devel­op­ment efforts for cost-effec­tive, clean ener­gy tech­nolo­gies, engi­neer­ing cat­a­lyst mate­ri­als at the nano- and atom­ic-scale to achieve active sites with desired prop­er­ties.

Pro­fes­sor Roldan has made excep­tion­al con­tri­bu­tions to the mech­a­nis­tic under­stand­ing of ther­mal and elec­tro-cat­alyt­ic reac­tions based on the use of well-defined nanos­truc­tured mate­ri­als com­bined with advanced in situ and operan­do micro­scop­ic and spec­tro­scop­ic char­ac­ter­i­za­tion. Her chal­leng­ing exper­i­men­tal cat­alyt­ic research has great­ly advanced our fun­da­men­tal knowl­edge of how geo­met­ric and elec­tron­ic prop­er­ties influ­ence the cat­alyt­ic per­for­mance. In par­tic­u­lar, she has pro­vid­ed insight into re-uti­liza­tion of CO2 through its ther­mal or elec­tro­chem­i­cal con­ver­sions to high­er val­ue chem­i­cals and fuels such as methanol, eth­yl­ene, or ethanol. A high­light of her research pro­gram are stud­ies fea­tur­ing the dynam­ic nature of nanocat­a­lysts under reac­tion con­di­tions using syn­chro­tron-based operan­do spec­troscopy and dif­frac­tion meth­ods com­bined with envi­ron­men­tal trans­mis­sion elec­tron microscopy. She has pio­neered the com­bi­na­tion of col­loidal chem­istry approach­es and elec­tro­chem­i­cal syn­the­sis for the prepa­ra­tion of mod­el cat­alyt­i­cal­ly active mate­ri­als, and their chem­i­cal func­tion­al­iza­tion and restruc­tur­ing using plas­ma treat­ments. Over­all, her work has served to bridge the gap between sur­face sci­ence and “real” catal­y­sis by cre­at­ing scal­able ex situ syn­the­sis approach­es lead­ing to monodis­persed nano­ma­te­ri­als and expos­ing them to in depth physi­co-chem­i­cal char­ac­ter­i­za­tion under real­is­tic reac­tion con­di­tions. Her research will help to guide the ratio­nal design of the next gen­er­a­tion of cat­a­lysts based on atom­istic under­stand­ing.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Pro­fes­sor Jaramil­lo and Pro­fes­sor Roldan!

Jing­guang Chen
Pres­i­dent, North Amer­i­can catal­y­sis Soci­ety