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September 27th, 2022 Webinar Speakers

Our next webinar will take place via the internet on Tuesday September 27th at 7PM EDT/12 AM BST. Sign up on our mailing list to receive the Zoom link!

We hope to see/hear from you all at one of our sessions or as one of the next speakers. If you are an early career scientist and would like to present your research, don't hesitate to submit an abstract today! For now, please learn more about our current speakers and their research below. We also thank the generous support from Cell Reports Physical Science, Merck, Janssen, and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Our featured speakers this week are Alex Mason (Graduate Student, Northwestern University, USA), and Dr Safia Jilani (Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, USA).



Biography: In 2018 I joined Northwestern University as a Chemistry Ph.D. student and joined Prof. Tobin J. Marks’ Lab later that year. My thesis research is centered around supported organometallic chemistry (SOMC), i.e. immobilization of molecular organometallics on a support for catalysis. At the beginning of my graduate career, I began researching catalysts for olefin polymerization, but fortuitously pivoted my research to chemical recycling of polyolefins using the same class of catalysts. Currently, I am beginning an SCGSR appointment at DoE Ames Lab, studying solid-state NMR for the structural characterization of these catalysts.

Title of Talk: Rapid Alkane and Polyolefin Hydrogenolysis Catalyzed by d0 Zirconium Hydrides

Abstract: TThe need for new technologies for polymer recycling is becoming ever more pressing as the crisis of global plastics pollution worsens. Polyolefins make up the majority of single-use plastics globally, yet their chemical deconstruction is challenged by their inert hydrocarbon framework. This challenge is being addressed by the recent development of numerous precious metal-based alkane hydrogenolysis catalysts that typically require relatively forcing conditions to achieve appreciable reaction rates. Reported herein is a d0 Zirconium species chemisorbed on an extremely Brønsted-acidic sulfated alumina support that rapidly catalyzes the hydrogenolysis of polyolefins under mild conditions, with hydrogenolysis of alkanes occurring at room temperature, as shown by gas-phase 1H NMR. Structural characterization was carried out via operando EXAFS, DRIFTS, and solid-state NMR, indicating that a Zr hydride is the active species in hydrogenolysis. Preliminary kinetic experiments were carried out using ¬¬n-hexadecane as a model system for polyolefins, revealing pseudo- zero order behavior in both H2 and ¬¬n¬-hexadecane. A DFT computed mechanism is proposed which supports this zero-order behavior in both substrates. The catalyst was found to completely consume 1.48g of ¬n-hexadecane in 18 minutes at 150°C and 2.5 atm H2 with a loading of 27 µmol Zr (0.42 mol% Zr). Polyethylene is also rapidly deconstructed with 1.5g of polyethylene being converted into C1-C30 hydrocarbons in 48 minutes at 200°C with a loading of 33µmol Zr at 2 atm H2.

DR SAFIA JILANI (on Twitter @FineTraces786)

Biography: Dr. Safia Jilani earned her B.S. in chemistry and studied secondary education at Dominican University. She then earned her Ph.D. with distinction in chemistry at Georgetown University. Her work focused on nanomaterials, electrochemical catalysis, and spectroelectrochemistry. Currently Safia is a postdoctoral fellow with the Center of Sustainable Nanotechnology (CSN) in Dr. Christy Haynes' lab at University of Minnesota. Safia has also done work related to education, service, science communication, leadership, and advocacy. She is a volunteer for the Younger Chemists Committee (YCC) in ACS and has been selected for the ACS Leadership Development Institute and CAS Future Leaders awards.

Title of Talk: Recognizing Invisible Work in a PhD Dissertation and Defense

Abstract: Invisible work is essential to the progress of science and academia, but it is not recognized for professional or career advancement. Invisible work also disproportionately falls onto minoritized scientists, as it affects their progress and experiences more than well-represented scientists. Often taken on by graduate and undergraduate students, invisible work is also not valued as part of their development, be it as a scientific / educational accomplishment or visible in their educational curriculum. Some of this work includes: mentorship of minoritized scientists, advocating for equitable policies, organizing projects on DEI committees and science outreach, and improving inclusion in the lab / department culture.

In this presentation, I will explore how graduate students can make advancements to science beyond traditional research papers through their invisible work. I will also share one possible way to make accomplishments in invisible work more visible and valued for early career scientists. This will include how I organized, wrote, and presented invisible work in my PhD dissertation and defense alongside traditional research accomplishments in chemistry. Some of the initial impact from sharing my dissertation, specifically invisible work chapters, publicly will be presented.

By elevating invisible work in academia, we make science and education more inclusive and holistic. We improve science itself. We bring more visibility and professional value to this work and by extension, make the scientific community more inclusive and equitable. We introduce a new model of how a dissertation can be a learning and evaluation tool for broader contributions to science and we start seeing invisible work as essential to the definition of a successful scientist.

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