Brunelli, Nick


Professor Brunelli received his bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University (2004) before earning his degree from California Institute of Technology (2010) during which time he was a NSF Graduate Research Fellow. After his doctoral training, he pursued a postdoctoral position at Georgia Institute of Technology (2010 - 2013) where he learned to investigate heterogeneous. A collaborative project with the Center for C-H Functionalization (CCHF) allowed him to work as a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University where he learned to organic synthesis methods. These experiences have enabled him combine organic and inorganic synthesis methods to produce catalytic materials. The distinct skill set enables his research group to answer unique questions about catalytic materials.

The work has been recognized with a NSF Career Award (2017) as well as the Robert Augustine Award (2019) from the Organic Reaction Catalysis Society. From 2018-2023, Professor Brunelli was recognized the H.C. "Slip" Slider Professorship. In 2023, he was named the Ervin G. Bailey Endowed Chair in Energy Conversion.

He has been recognized as an Emerging Investigator by the journals Energy & Fuels (2021), RSC Molecular Systems Design and Engineering (2020), and RSC Reaction Chemistry and Engineering (2019). He was also named a member of the class of AIChE Futures in 2019 by AIChE Journal and the class of influential investigators by ACS Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (2018).


Our group has expertise in the synthesis, characterization, and testing of heterogeneous catalytic materials. We seek to investigate structure-function relationships to elucidate mechanistic insights into catalytic reactions. This is challenging since most heterogeneous catalysts contain a non-uniform distribution of catalytic sites. We use homogeneous synthesis techniques to create materials with more uniform catalytic sites. Through tuning these materials on the atomic level, we are able to produce more uniform catalytic sites. The uniformity of the catalytic sites enables more active and selective catalysts to be designed and realized. The work has the potential to transform the production of valuable chemicals derived from petroleum and biomass sources.

We are using advanced forms of spectroscopy - including Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS, which includes XANES and EXAFS) - to elucidate synthesis-structure-reactivity relationships.