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Honors and Awards

Linsey Seitz Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Award backs research into new catalyst materials to enable use of renewable energy for sustainable production

Linsey Seitz

Northwestern Engineering’s Linsey Seitz has received a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the foundation’s most prestigious honor for junior faculty members.

Seitz, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering, will receive $603,221 over five years from NSF’s Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems.

The award supports early career development of individuals who exemplify the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research.

Seitz’s research interests are in understanding catalytic reactions and materials using insights from electrochemistry and spectroscopy. She is developing catalysts with enhanced activity, selectivity, and stability with the goal of improving clean energy efficiency and technological viability of clean energy and chemical conversion processes.

Through her research group, Seitz is improving the efficiency of electrochemical conversion processes to produce high-energy density fuels and commodity chemicals, utilizing renewable electricity and waste streams or other abundant resources as inputs. Her work could help shift global energy dependence from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

With her CAREER award, titled “Probing and Controlling Acidic Electrocatalytic Oxidation Mechanisms and Catalyst Degradation Processes,” Seitz will study a class of precisely tuned catalyst materials that are designed to withstand the harsh oxidative and acidic conditions of proton exchange membrane electrolyzers, a promising technology for large-scale, sustainable production of hydrogen from water – a crucial developmental component for many fuels and chemicals, but one that has been plagued by inefficient and unstable catalysts that have limited their widespread implementation.

“As the global energy landscape evolves to incorporate more renewable electricity from sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric technologies, electrochemical processes will become a major source of fuels and chemicals,” Seitz said. “I am thrilled to pursue this work and contribute to improved technological feasibility of sustainable processes for production of critical fuels and chemicals that we rely on every day.”

Seitz’s work will also include collaborating with Chicago Public High School teachers to develop and implement new curriculum and classroom activities about electrochemical processes that promote student engagement, improve student retention from diverse backgrounds, and fulfill Next Generation Science Standards.