Faculty Directory
Linda J. Broadbelt

Chair and Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Sarah Rebecca Roland Professor


2145 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

Email Linda Broadbelt


Broadbelt Research Group


Chemical and Biological Engineering


Business for Scientists and Engineers, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE

B.S. Chemical Engineering (summa cum laude), Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Research Interests

Complex kinetics modeling, catalysis and biocatalysis, polymerization and depolymerization

The scientific motivation driving the work in my research group is unraveling complexity in reacting systems. We recognize that macroscopic observations are linked to microscopic phenomena, and analysis spanning these regimes provides the best opportunity for fundamental understanding and development of novel engineering strategies. The systems that we study, however, are sufficiently complex that the atomic-scale events leading to the observed behavior are obscured. We concentrate our efforts in three main topical areas using a combination of experiment and theory. Reaction systems that we model may consist of thousands of reactive intermediates and molecules and thus are too large for models to be developed without automated computer tools. Polymeric systems that we study require description of transformations of high molecular weight chains and evolution of low molecular weight products. Catalytic and biocatalytic systems that we investigate demand quantification of the interaction energies between numerous species and complex catalytic environments. We therefore develop capabilities to facilitate quantitative analysis and description of complex systems at the macroscopic level, and we devise strategies and apply tools for probing and quantifying molecular-level events.

Selected Publications

  • Broadbelt, Linda J.; Mayes, Heather B.; Beckham, Gregg T.; Nolte, Michael W.; Shanks, Brent H., “The alpha-bet(a) of glucose pyrolysis: Computational and experimental investigations of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural and levoglucosan formation reveal implications for cellulose pyrolysis”, ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, (2014)
  • Broadbelt, Linda J.; Wu, Di; Yue, Dajun; You, Fengqi, “Computational evaluation of factors governing catalytic 2-keto acid decarboxylation”, Journal of Molecular Modeling, (2014)
  • Broadbelt, Linda J.; Mayes, Heather B.; Beckham, Gregg T.; Tian, Jianhui; Nolte, Michael W., “Sodium ion interactions with aqueous glucose: Insights from quantum mechanics, molecular dynamics, and experiment”, Journal of Physical Chemistry B, (2014)
  • Broadbelt, Linda J.; Mayes, Heather B.; Beckham, Gregg T., “How sugars pucker: Electronic structure calculations map the kinetic landscape of fivebiologically paramount monosaccharides and their implications for enzymatic catalysis”, Journal of the American Chemical Society, (2014)
  • Broadbelt, Linda J.; Vinu, R., “A mechanistic model of fast pyrolysis of glucose-based carbohydrates to predict bio-oil composition”, Energy and Environmental Science, (2012)
  • X. Bao, C.-Y. Sung, R. Q. Snurr and L. J. Broadbelt, “Rate-Determining Step in the NOx Reduction Mechanism on BaY Zeolites and the Importance of Long-Range Lattice Effects”, Acs Catalysis, (2012)
  • R. Vinu and L. J. Broadbelt, “Unraveling reaction pathways and specifying reaction kinetics for complex systems”, Annual review of chemical and biomolecular engineering, (2012)