ChE Seminar: Dr. Eranda Nikolla

Event Date: March 7, 2024
Speaker: Dr. Eranda Nikolla
Speaker Affiliation: University of Michigan
Time: 3:00-4:15 p.m.
Location: FRNY G140
Contact Name: Joshua Gonzalez
Contact Phone: 765-494-4365
Contact Email:
Open To: Attendance required for ChE PhD students
Priority: No
School or Program: Chemical Engineering
College Calendar: Show
Graduate Seminar Series
Dr. Eranda Nikolla
Professor of Chemical Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering
University of Michigan
Host:  Dr. Brian Tackett


Dr. Eranda Nikolla is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI. Prior to this, she was a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. Her research interests focus on the development of heterogeneous catalysts and electrocatalysts for chemical and electrochemical energy conversion/storage processes. As an integral part of engineering catalytic/electrocatalytic structures, Nikolla has implemented a paradigm which involves a combination of controlled synthesis, advanced characterization, kinetic measurements, and quantum chemical calculations to unearth the underlying mechanism that governs their catalytic performance for targeted reactions.  Her group’s impact to catalytic science has been recognized through the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Department of Energy Early Career Research Award, Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the Young Scientist Award from the International Congress on Catalysis, the 2019 ACS Women Chemists Committee (WCC) Rising Star Award, the 2021 Michigan Catalysis Society Parravano Award for Excellence in Catalysis Research and Development, the 2022 ACS CatalysisLectureship for the Advancement of Catalytic Science, and the 2023 Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos Award for Creativity in Catalysis.

"Engineering Oxide Structures and Architectures for Efficient Energy and Chemical Conversion"


Shaping the energy landscape toward renewable energy resources is a contemporary challenge that will require significant advancements in the development of catalysts and electrocatalysts for energy and chemical conversion processes. The goal of our research group is to design heterogeneous catalytic structures and architectures for these processes that are active, selective, and stable.  

Our group has focused on engineering the structure of nonstoichiometric mixed metal oxide electrocatalysts as an avenue for generating robust heterogeneous catalysts for electrochemical transformations related to energy conversion and storage (these include oxygen reduction/evolution reactions (ORR/OER) and CO2 reduction). Specifically, I will discuss our work on combining controlled synthesis, kinetic analysis, advanced characterization, and ab initio calculations to identify the factors that govern the activity and stability of nonstoichiometric mixed metal oxide electrocatalysts for ORR/OER. We have shown that (i) the electronic structure of the transition metal cations in nonstoichiometric mixed metal oxide electrocatalysts can be systematically tuned via oxide compositional variations to achieve the outmost reactivity, and (ii) the oxide framework can act as a platform forin situgeneration of highly catalytically active surfaces under electrochemical conditions.  

We have also used oxides as overlayers to control the 3-dimensional environment of metal catalytic sites and tune the activity/selectivity for targeted thermal catalytic reactions. Specifically, I will discuss our work on utilizing reducible metal oxide encapsulated noble metal catalytic structures to promote hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of biomass-derived compounds. We have demonstrated that the enhancement in HDO activity/selectivity induced by the encapsulation of the metal nanoparticles with a porous oxide film results from the high interfacial contact between the metal and metal oxide sites, and the restrictive accessible conformations of aromatics on the metal surface.