Chemical engineering and materials science doctoral student first in 18 years to win catalysis award

Chemical and materials science Ph.D. student Juliana Silva Alves Carneiro recently won the Best Student Presentation award from the Michigan Catalysis Society (MCS) for her research presentation at their May symposium.

“Winning the award was gratifying because it gives us confidence that we are on the right track with our research,” says Carneiro.  “It was a very happy feeling to bring the award back to Wayne State after 18 years.”

The award honored the research that Carneiro and a team of postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate students are conducting under the guidance of Eranda Nikolla, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science. The Nikolla Research Group is working to develop a robust solid-state electrochemical system that will allow activating reverse chemical pathways in which carbon dioxide is converted back into high-energy molecules (chemicals and fuels). They give special attention to the design of the electrocatalysts used in these devices, which improve the energy efficiency for the reaction. Essentially, they are trying to create even more environmentally friendly batteries.

“High levels of CO2 are emitted from human activities, and so it is essential that we work to mitigate that impact. Environmental issues motivate the majority of my research,” explains Carneiro. She received a book from the field to aid in her research as well as a cash prize from the Michigan Catalysis Society.

This summer, Carneiro is returning to Brazil to visit her parents. But winning this award has made her anxious to get back in the lab at Wayne State after the break. She looks forward to maintaining the continuity of this project and submitting future results to make a second impactful contribution to this field.

“I am quite confident that this achievement will not be an isolated one. Instead, I believe it will be repeated in the upcoming years by the very talented students and professors working in the catalysis area at Wayne State University’s College of Engineering,” says Carneiro.

MCS is a member of the North American Catalysis Society (NACS), which was founded in 1956 to promote and encourage the growth and development of the science of catalysis.

Learn more about the Michigan Catalysis Society and the North American Catalysis Society

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Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering 380 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students. For more information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit engineering.wayne.edu.