Huiyuan Zhu, Ph.D. will start with UVA Chemistry in August as an Assistant Professor. Prof. Zhu comes to UVA from Virginia Tech where she was an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering since 2018. Prior to 2018, she was on the research staff in the Nanomaterials Chemistry Group at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, TN on a Liane B. Russell Fellowship. In 2020, she was awarded a Doctoral New Investigator Award from the ACS Petroleum Research Foundation, an Emerging Investigator from the Journal of Materials Chemistry, the ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, and a Jeffress Trust Award. In 2022 she was awarded a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation.
Professor Zhu earned her B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Science and Technology China in 2009 and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Brown University in 2014.
Her research aims to develop new synthetic strategies for well-defined nanocrystals and 2-dimensional (2D) materials with atomically precise surfaces and interfaces that can lead to a fundamental understanding of how atomic structure affects catalyst performance and to use this new knowledge to design optimized catalysts for critical energy conversion and chemical transformation processes. Her research specifically focuses on electrochemical CO2 conversion, sustainable nitrogen cycling, and heterogeneous thermocatalytic reactions (e.g., acetylene semi-hydrogenation). Three questions fundamental to catalysis are to be addressed: (1) What are the catalytic active sites and how do they evolve under reaction conditions? (2) How to steer the reaction pathway toward desirable products via modulating active sites and their environments? (3) How to circumvent or ultimately, go beyond adsorption-energy scaling relations?
Professor Zhu arrives for the Fall term and will be recruiting students into her research group.