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Umit Ozkan first woman to win American Chemical Society Energy and Fuels Division Storch Award

Professor Ozkan and students from her laboratory.Professor Ozkan and students from her laboratory.Professor Umit Ozkan is a pioneer who has often been the first woman in her field to achieve and be recognized for her accomplishments. Now a new honor joins her long list of "firsts" -- in the 53-year history of the American Chemical Society's Energy and Fuels Division Henry H. Storch Award, she has become the first woman recipient. 

The award will be presented during the American Chemical Society National Meeting to be held in August 2017 in Washington, DC. Dr. Ozkan, who is recognized as a leader in heterogeneous catalysis both nationally and internationally, will also be honored with a special two-day symposium during the meeting.

Professor Ozkan focuses her research on fundamental questions regarding surface chemistry and heterogeneous kinetics. Her research addresses many critical problems facing our nation in the energy and environmental protection areas and is funded by both federal agencies and industry. 

In the area of energy and environmental protection, research focuses on including novel electrocatalyst development for fuel cells, catalytic oxidation, emission control, hydrogenation and hydrogenolysis of heteroatom compounds found in petroleum and coal derivatives, fuel processing for fuel cell applications, catalytic phenomena involved in fuel cells, use of isotopic labeling techniques as a probe for mechanistic investigations, and in-situ characterization of catalysts using vibrational  spectroscopy and surface analysis techniques. She has published extensively on oxidation catalysis and hydrogenolysis.

Her more recent work on emission control for lean-burn natural gas reciprocating engines has led to the development of a catalytic system that can function as a “three way catalyst," i.e., performing reduction of NOx and oxidation of CO and unburned hydrocarbons under lean conditions, for which a U.S. patent was issued in 2008.

Ozkan's current work on the development of novel carbon-based (precious metal free) catalysts for PEM fuel cells has received much attention due to the way it shed light on the role of metal centers versus nitrogen functional groups supported on carbon nano-structures in oxygen reduction reaction. She is one of the first catalysis researchers who saw the need to bridge the fields of catalysis and electrochemistry and her efforts in the last decade have concentrated in this area.

She has also been active in development of novel electro catalysts for solid oxide fuel cells. Some of the new formulations she has developed for cathode electro-catalysts have much higher oxygen ion transport capability and are likely to allow the solid oxide fuel cells to operate at lower temperatures than the currently needed levels of ~1000°C. She has also demonstrated that perovskite-based oxide materials could have high activity for the anodic reactions in solid oxide fuel cells, while remaining resistant to sulfur poisoning and coking. 

More recently, Ozkan's  research group has been working on projects related to lector-catalytically-assisted oxidation reaction, electrocatalytic CO2 and water reduction to syngas and catalytic treatment of water contaminated with chlorinated hydrocarbons. Currently, she has seven PhD students, one master student, two post-doctoral researchers and nine undergraduate honors students in her group.

A prolific researcher, Ozkan has edited seven books, written six book chapters and published over 200 refereed articles in the most prestigious journals in her field. She is a Fellow of AICHE, ACS and AAAS and has been serving in leadership roles in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Chemical Society and the North American Catalysis Society. She is on the editorial boards of many catalysis journals, including Catalysis Letters, Topics in Catalysis, Catalysis Today, Catalysts, Reports in Electrochemistry, Catalysis Reviews, Science and Engineering, Applied Catalysis B, Journal of Molecular Catalysis and ACS Catalysis.

The Henry H. Storch Award was established in 1964 and is given annually to an individual who has made distinguished contributions to fundamental or engineering research on the chemistry and utilization of hydrocarbon fuels.

To read more about Professor Ozkan's research, visit her research website.

Congratulations, Dr. Ozkan! 

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