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Grad students win catalysis prizes

Yadan Tang, a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry, won second place for her poster presentation at a symposium of the Catalysis Society of Metropolitan New York.

Two graduate students won prizes for poster presentations of their research recently at the annual Spring Symposium of the Catalysis Society of Metropolitan New York (NYCS).

Yadan Tang, a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry, received second place for her poster, which was titled “Molecular Structures of Catalytic Active Sites and Their Activity for Methane Dehydroaromatization to Liquid Fuels by Supported MOx/ZSM-5 Catalysts.”

Tang’s project is supervised by Israel E. Wachs, the G. Whitney Snyder Professor of Chemical Engineering and director of Lehigh’s Operando Molecular Spectroscopy and Catalysis Research Laboratory.

Christopher J. Keturakis, a Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering who is also supervised by Wachs, won one of the two third place prizes for his presentation, which was titled “Operando Molecular Spectroscopy during Catalytic Biomass Pyrolysis.”

The symposium, the largest such event held to date in the northeastern region of the United States, took place March 12 at the Ben Franklin TechVentures Center on the Mountaintop Campus.

The event attracted more than 120 participants from academia and from industry. Approximately 50 poster presentations were made by graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. The first-place winner was Paul Smith, a graduate student in chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University.

Tang earned a B.S. in materials science from the East China University of Science and Technology in 2006 and an M.S. in chemistry from Lehigh in 2010. She has given presentations at meetings of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and other professional societies, and she has coauthored papers for the Journal of Physical Chemistry and other journals.

Tang’s previous awards include second place prizes at the 2011 and 2013 annual student poster contests of the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia, as well as the Kokes Award at the 23rd North American Catalysis Society Meeting.

Keturakis, who earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from Lehigh in 2009, wrote a chapter that was included in the book Comprehensive Inorganic Chemistry II, which was published in 2013 by Elsevier Ltd. He has also coauthored papers for ACS Catalysis and other journals and has also given presentations at meetings of ACS, AIChE and other professional societies.

His previous awards include second place prizes at the 2012 and 2013 annual student poster contests of the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia, as well as second place at an undergraduate poster session of the 2008 annual meeting of AIChE.

In addition to his publications, Keturakis wrote a proposal that resulted in a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, which helped support the work he presented at the conference.

The keynote speaker at the NYCS symposium was Christophe Coperet, professor of surface and interface chemistry at the Swiss Technical University (ETH-Zurich).

Two Lehigh faculty members gave invited presentations. Nick Strandwitz, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, discussed “Semiconductor-Based Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting: The Current State of the Field.”

Wachs gave a presentation on “Catalysis Research with Lehigh’s Advanced Surface Characterization Instruments.”

Other posters at the symposium were presented by students from the University of Massachusetts, the University of Connecticut, Yale, SUNY-Stony Brook, Cedar Crest College, Columbia, the City College of CUNY, the Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers, Princeton, the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Villanova, Penn State, Penn and the University of Delaware.

Also participating in the symposium were researchers from Brookhaven National Laboratory, Air Products, Anellotech, BASF, ExxonMobil, International Flavors and Fragrances, Johnson Matthey, Primus Green Energy, Scientific Design and WR Grace.

Photos by Christa Neu

Story by Kurt Pfitzer

Posted on Friday, April 25, 2014

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