Projects

Active Sponsored Projects:

 

NSF ECO-CBET – Electrodeless Electrochemical Valorization of Lignin (2021-2024), in a collaboration with Dr. Elijah Thimsen (PI, WashU EECE Department), Dr. Mark Mba Wright (Co-PI, ISU Mechanical Engineering Department), Dr. Kimberly M Parker (Co-PI, WashU EECE Department), Dr. Corey Stephenson (Co-PI, UMichigan Department of Chemistry). Project role: (Co-PI) Achieving selective oxidation and reductive cleaving of beta-O-4 linkages in lignin and model lignin compounds. Awarded $ 1,697,131.

ACS Herman Frasch Fund for Chemical Research – Elucidating the Chemical Mechanisms and Kinetics for Lignin Disassembly with Bimetallic Metal Oxides (2017-2022). Project Role: Elucidating, and ultimately manipulating, the effect of copper and nickel bimetallic compositions within porous metal oxides as catalysts for selective lignin depolymerization into aromatic chemicals via hydrogenolysis. Awarded $ 250,000.

NSF CMMI –  Science and Technology Center for Engineering Mechano-Biology (2016-2021), a collaboration among Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California-Los Angeles, Alabama State University, Boston University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Pennsylvania State University and Bryn Mawr College.  Project Role: Applying advanced characterization techniques to the plant cell wall to investigate biomechanics and mechanobiology and to understand fundamental concepts of growth and morphogenesis.

NSF CBET Catalysis – Designing Catalytic Interfaces to Promote Selective Lignin Depolymerization (2016-2021), in a collaboration with Dr. Susanna Scott (UC Santa Barbara Department of Chemistry).  Project Role: Synthesizing novel lignin model compounds and polymers and investigating reaction pathways for heterogeneous catalyzed hydrogenolysis of lignin. Awarded $ 255,944.

DOE Biological and Environmental Research – Systems Engineering of Rhodococcus opacus to Enable Production of Drop-in Fuels from Lignocelluloses (2017-2020), in a collaboration with Dr. Gautam Dantas (WashU School of Medicine), Dr. Tae Seok Moon (WashU EECE Department), Dr. Fuzhong Zhang (WashU EECE Department), Dr. Yinjie Tang (WashU EECE Department), and Hector-Garcia Martin (Biosciences, Berkeley Lab).  Project Role: Characterizing Rhodococcus Opacus metabolism of aromatic compounds and lipid production.

EMSL PNNL User Proposal – Integrated Mutli-omics Analyses for the Prediction of Metabolic Flux in Lignin Conversion using NMR, Sum Frequency Generation for Surface Vibrational Spectroscopy, Fourier-Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance, NMR, and mass spectrometer. Awarded $202,764 (2018-2020).

ORNL Neuron Science User Proposal – Small and Ultra-Small Angle Neutron Scattering of Poplar upon Reductive Fractionation (2019-2020).

ORNL CNMS User Proposal – Synthesis of [13C]-labeled monomer for lignin model polymers (2020-2021).

ORNL CNMS User Proposal – Correlative imaging of local cell wall composition and stiffness in helical growth mutants, in a collaboration with Dr. Ram Dixit, WashU Biology Department (2020-2021).

 

Completed Projects:

 

ORNL CNMS User Proposal – Correlative Microscopy to Investigate Local Cell Wall Composition and Stiffness (2020).

ORNL Neuron Science User Proposal – Operando Studies of a Copper Catalyst for Lignin Depolymerization (2017).

ORNL Neuron Science User Proposal – Contrast Variation of Catalyst used in Chemical Reaction (2017).

EMSL PNNL User Proposal – Advanced Molecular Characterization of Solvo-Catalytic Lignin Disassembly using NMR and mass spectrometer. Awarded $55,395 (2017).

NSF DMR Polymers – EAGER: Investigating the Structure-Property Relationships of Sugar-Derived Block Copolymers (2015-2017), in a collaboration with Dr. Thomas Epps III, University of Delaware.  Project Role: Synthesizing novel sugar-derived monomers for polymerization into block copolymers.

DOE Biological and Environmental Research – Systems Biology of Rhodococcus Opacus to Enable Production of Fuels and Chemicals (2014-2017), in a collaboration with Dr. Gautam Dantas, WashU School of Medicine and Dr. Tae Seok Moon, WashU EECE Department.  Project Role: Characterizing Rhodococcus Opacus metabolism of aromatic compounds and lipid production.

ORNL Neuron Science User Proposal – Operando Studies of the Catalytic Disassembly of Lignin (2016).

WashU InCEES Award – Transition Metal Complexes for Lignin Depolymerization (2015-2016), in a collaboration with Dr. John Bleeke, WashU Chemistry Department.  Project Role: Investigating the novel homogenous catalysts for the hydrogenolysis of lignin.

McKelvey Collaboration Initiation Grant – Novel NMR and EPR Technology for Surface Characterization of Biomass (2015-2016), in a collaboration with Dr. Alexander Barnes, WashU Chemistry Department.  Project Role: Investigating the application of dynamic nuclear polarization NMR for surface analysis of biomass.

Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization – Addressing Challenges to Market Implementation of Co-Firing of Torrefied Biomass (2015-2016), in a collaboration with Dr. Ben Kumfer, WashU EECE Department.  Project Role: Investigating biomass torrefaction reaction pathways.

WashU InCEES Award – Aerosol Synthesis of Hyperthermic Catalysis (2014-2015), in a collaboration with Dr. Pratim Biswas, WashU EECE Department.  Project Role: Investigating a robust hyperthermic catalytic system to efficiently capture and utilize microwave energy for chemical reactions.

WashU InCEES Award – Hybrid Conversion of Lignin: Trees to Fat (2013-2014), in a collaboration with Dr. Tae Seok Moon, WashU EECE Department.  Project Role: Investigating a catalyzed hydrogenolysis process to produce a narrow distribution of water-soluble lignin fragment intermediates.

Georgia Tech FACES Career Initiation Grant – Exploitation of Lignocellulosic Biomass (2012).