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!
President, North American catalysis Society