October 23, 2023
Title: Applications and Mechanism in Hydrogen Transfer Catalysis
3:45-4:45 pm on Monday, October 23, 2023
Seminar by Prof. Travis Williams, USC
This presentation will show how conceptually simple catalysts for hydrogenation and dehydrogenation have far-reaching implications in fields from energy use and storage to fine chemical synthesis and medical imaging. New strategies for generating hydrogen on demand will be discussed. Such chemistry contributes to the decarbonization of transportation by providing a liquid hydrogen carrier strategy that can enable stations for light vehicle H2 filling in places where gaseous hydrogen is not readily available. Reversible dehydrogenation of alcohols with some of the same catalysts enables waste-free synthetic strategies for the synthesis of indole alkaloids and diazepines, valuable building blocks for medicinal discovery and manufacturing. All of these reactions are linked by analogous mechanistic motifs that will be explained and developed as part of the discussion.
Bio: Travis Williams, Ph.D.
Dr. Williams (b. 1976) is a tenured full professor of chemistry at the University of Southern California. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University with Paul Wender in 2005 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology with John Bercaw before coming to USC in 2007. Travis is interested in solving problems ranging from energy use and storage to medical imaging, plastics valorization, and sustainable manufacturing. His group's recent work on hydrogen storage—a carbon-neutral, sustainable approach to transportation fuel—has garnered international media attention. His award-winning clean-tech startups, Catapower, Inc. and Closed Composites, are respectively involved in producing upgraded biofuels and fine chemicals from biomass feedstocks.
Travis has received numerous honors and awards, including the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, the NSF CAREER and BRITE Awards, the Stanford Centennial Teaching Award, the Caltech ASCIT Teaching Award, the Thieme Chemistry Journals Award, three USC Wrigley Sustainability Prizes, two RSC (UK) emerging investigator awards, and the 2020 Breakthrough Energy Ventures Climate Change Prize. He has authored over 90 scientific papers, books, monographs, and patents, and delivered over 50 invited lectureships in chemistry, catalysis, and engineering.