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DOE Early Career Award for alumna Elizabeth Biddinger

Professor Elizabeth BiddingerProfessor Elizabeth BiddingerCBE alumna Elizabeth J. Biddinger, assistant professor of chemical engineering in The City College of New York's Grove School of Engineering, is one of 84 recipients nationwide of the U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Awards. She’ll receive $750,000 over five years for her research in the emerging field of biomass electroreduction.

“Supporting talented researchers early in their career is key to building and maintaining a skilled and effective scientific workforce for the nation. By investing in the next generation of scientific researchers, we are supporting lifelong discovery science to fuel the nation’s innovation system,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “We are proud of the accomplishments these young scientists have already made, and look forward to following their achievements in years to come.”

Biddinger’s successful proposal was titled: “Reaction Mechanism and Kinetics for Electrochemical Hydrogenation and Hydrogenolysis of Biomass-Derived Species.”

“This is a great opportunity to focus on biomass electroreduction. The field is relatively new and there are so many exciting contributions we can make,” she said.  

Biomass is from natural renewable resources such as plant or food matter and can be converted into renewable fuels and chemicals. This can replace the need to use fossil fuels such as petroleum and natural gas. Biddinger’s research at the Grove School will seek to advance efforts to develop proposed smaller scale, on-site upgrading of products from biomass conversion, known as Biomass Upgrading Depots (BUDs).

“By electrochemically converting biomass, modular units that do not require significant infrastructure or the same scale as traditional chemical processing facilities, can be utilized in these BUDs,” said Biddinger.

“When paired with excess renewable electricity (from sunny or windy days), the process has promise to be economical and sustainable, all while addressing the energy storage problem associated with renewable electricity generation,” she added.

The DOE Early Career Award is the latest honor received by Biddinger, whose research interests encompass green chemistry and energy applications utilizing electrochemistry, catalysis, alternative solvents and sustainable engineering methods. 

Recent accolades include the 2016-2017 Electrochemical Society–Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Award to work on battery safety switches using reversible ionic liquids, and the 2014 CUNY Junior Faculty Award for Science and Engineering from the Sloan Foundation to investigate CO2 electroreduction.

Professor Biddinger graduated with a B.S. in chemical engineering from Ohio University in 2005. In 2010 she obtained her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at The Ohio State University, and was a member of Dr. Umit Ozkan's research group. 

"I cannot begin to fully explain the positive impact that Dr. Ozkan has had on my life. In her group, I learned how to be a rigorous researcher and obtained all of the tools necessary to do catalysis research. She engaged her research group in the process of writing proposals, which is not something all advisors do. This helped me significantly in getting my early proposals out. Dr. Ozkan also took the time to introduce me and other group members to the heterogeneous catalysis community, even long after we graduated. These things and many others -- such as the department's recognition of my successes and fostering my interest in teaching through teaching mentorships and fellowships -- have led to me having a successful research group at The City College of New York and being recognized for my research, including the DOE Early Career Award," Dr. Biddinger said.

In addition to her appointment with CCNY, Professor Biddinger is part of the Graduate Center, CUNY, Ph.D. chemistry program. Her postdoc was at Georgia Tech.

 

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Story adapted from original article published online by the City College of New York.

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