You are here

Ozkan becomes first female recipient of prestigious American Chemical Society Award

Professor Umit Ozkan is a pioneer, often having been the first woman in her field to be recognized for her accomplishments. Now a new honor joins her long list of "firsts.” She recently became the first woman recipient of the American Chemical Society's Energy and Fuels Division Henry H. Storch Award—a milestone 53 years in the making.

Professor Umit Ozkan

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. The award will be presented during the American Chemical Society National Meeting in August 2017 in Washington, D.C. 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.

Ozkan, a distinguished professor in the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 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. 

Her 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.

Prof. Ozkan with students in her laboratory.

Ozkan's 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.

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 the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Chemical Society and American Association for the Advancement of Science.

by Wenda Williamson, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering