The department would like to warmly welcome new faculty member Ryan Trovitch. Ryan and his group are currently hard at work developing homogeneous transition metal catalysts for energy- and sustainability-driven initiatives.
Trovitch received a B.S. degree in chemistry from the Honors Program at King’s College (Wilkes-Barre, PA) in 2004, where he worked with professor Robert L. LaDuca to prepare metal-organic frameworks for use as gas storage materials. He went on to receive a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Cornell University (2008) under the direction of professor Paul J. Chirik. Ryan’s graduate work focused on the study of redox-active ligand supported iron complexes and their utility as sustainable late-transition metal catalysts.
Trovitch joined Los Alamos National Laboratory as a postdoctoral research associate in 2008 where he enjoyed a Glenn T. Seaborg Postdoctoral Fellowship. While at LANL, Ryan worked with Dr. Kevin D. John (LANL), Dr. John C. Gordon (LANL), Dr. Alfred P. Sattleberger (ANL) and Prof. R. Tom Baker (U. Ottawa) to study a range of projects including nitrogen fixation, the solution reactivity of dimeric molybdenum complexes, and the spectroscopic investigation of alumina-supported iridium dehydrogenation catalysts.
Ryan’s areas of current interest include the incorporation of carbon dioxide into value-added products, the deoxygenation of bio-derived substrates, and the development of biologically benign catalysts for the manufacture of fine chemicals. He seems to be away to a flying start with an instant group of three previously uncommitted students.
Ellen B. Stechel
The department would like to warmly welcome new faculty member Ellen B. Stechel. Ellen is currently hard at work as Deputy Director for the LightWorks initiative and challenge lead for “Fuels from Sunlight”.
Ellen received a B.A. degree in mathematics and chemistry and minor in Physics from Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH) in 1974, where she developed her interest in theory and in quantum mechanics. She went on to receive her MS in Physical Chemistry and Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the University of Chicago, in 1976 and 1978, respectively, under the direction of Professor John C. Light. Ellen’s graduate work focused on the study of full three-dimensional quantum scattering of H+H2 and electron transfer reactions. She then went to UCLA to do postdoctoral research with Eric Heller on non-linear dynamics in molecules and quantum chaos.
Ellen joined Sandia National Laboratories as a technical staff member in 1981 in Condensed Matter Theory and later in Advanced Materials Sciences and Devices. She spent 17 years at Sandia working in a number of areas including electronically stimulated reactions on surfaces, strongly correlated oxides and high temperature superconductivity, amorphous carbon, and on linear scaling algorithms for density functional theory. She made the move from individual researcher to management in late 1994.
In late 1998, she left Sandia on Entrepreneurial Leave of Absence and joined the Scientific Research Lab in Ford Motor Company, where she managed the chemistry and environmental science department and interfaced with the company on a number of areas including environmental emissions, fuel and additive chemistries, sustainability, and climate change. She was the Ford technical program lead on energy and the environment in the Ford-MIT alliance and Ford lead on the BP/Ford sponsored carbon mitigation initiative at Princeton.
In 2001 she moved into Ford’s product development and led the R&D to develop, prove, and deploy new technology to halve precious metals usage in catalytic converters while meeting the more stringent Tier 2 emission standards, do it ahead of regulations, and impact a large fraction of the North American vehicles. This experience provided the foundation for believing that the right team, with the right mindset and good communication, unambiguous expectations, and some resources, can accomplish pretty much anything as long as it does not defy physical laws.
In 2005, she returned to Sandia with a much broader perspective, first on assignment to the Department of Homeland Security and then to lead the program development for a new fuels from sunlight effort. In 2008, the “Sunshine to Petrol” team successfully competed for $11.5M over three years to advance the concept of solar thermochemical metal-oxide cycles for splitting CO2 and H2O. Downstream of the splitting reactions, the resulting syngas can convert to liquid hydrocarbons building on decades of experience in syngas chemistry. During the course of the project, the team developed deep insights into the thermodynamics and kinetics of the redox active oxides and the key necessary attributes for a working reactor. The assembled and working prototype is a first of a kind – it incorporates continuous flow, direct solar heating, spatial separation of products (e.g. O2 from CO or H2) and internal recuperation, attributes critically important to achieve high efficiency. High efficiency is essential to realize scalability and ultimate affordability. The experience operating the prototype is proving invaluable.
Ellen retired from Sandia at the end of last year. She joined the LightWorks team this year and is excited to be associated with the Chemistry department as Professor of Practice.