(6ac) In silico Engineering of a Future Energy Infrastructure

Jenness, G. R., University of Delaware
Research Interests:

The decreasing supplies of petroleum resources coupled with an increase in demand has created a
need for an alternative sources of chemical building blocks and renewable energy. While current research
has identified several promising technologies, high material costs and/or low yields forces our continual
dependence on non-renewable sources. As a future faculty member, I seek to utilize my prior expertise to
develop and distribute computational models and software which will allow for potential catalytic materials
to be identified and readily examined inexpensively. During this Session I will demonstrate how my prior
experience will enable my future research into the in silico design of new electrocatalytic materials for fuel
cell applications.

Fuel cells are an attractive prospect for meeting our future energy demands due to their high energy
density and low emissions. Utilization of H2 generated via the photo-oxidation of water further enhances
the green aspects of this technology. While prior work has focused on the application of proton exchange
membranes, these devices have limited applications due the high cost of the platinum based electrocatalytic
materials involved. Recent work with hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells have demonstrated that
under akaline environments, cheaper base metals (i.e., nickel) can be used; however such materials are still
limited due to their low activity. The future design of electrocatalytic materials will involve the detailed
understanding of the kinetics of the relevant chemical processes at the anode and cathode, as well as the
influence of the solvation environment. Unfortunately, such an understanding is currently lacking. My goal
is to apply new computational tools to elucidate these effects.

My graduate work at the University of Pittsburgh focused on understanding the interactions between
extended -systems (i.e., graphene) and polar molecules (i.e., water),1,2 which is critical first step in under-
standing how aromatic carbon supports interacts with the solvation environment. During my post-doctoral
work at the University of Wisconsin examined how support materials affect the catalytic properties of metal
nanoparticles,3,4 the results of which were recently used to explore the nature of novel carbon supports for
fuel cell applications.5 My current post-doctoral work at the University of Delaware has focused on the
production of value-added chemicals and fuels from biomass-derived building blocks.6â??8

Graduate Advisor: Kenneth D. Jordan (University of Pittsburgh)

Post-doctoral Advisors: Jordan R. Schmidt (University of Wisconsin),

 Dionisios G. Vlachos (University of Delaware)

Select Publications (Total citations: 269):
(1) Jenness, G. R.; Karalti, O.; Jordan, K. D. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2010, 12, 6375â??81.
(2) Jenness, G. R.; Karalti, O.; Al-Saidi, W. A.; Jordan, K. D. J. Phys. Chem. A 2011, 115, 5955â??64.
(3) Jenness, G. R.; Schmidt, J. R. ACS Catal. 2013, 3, 2881â??2890.
(4) Hermes, E. D.; Jenness, G. R.; Schmidt, J. Mol. Simul. 2014, 41, 123â??133.
(5) Zhuang, Z.; Giles, S. A.; Zheng, J.; Jenness, G. R.; Caratzoulas, S.; Vlachos, D. G.; Yan, Y. Nat.
Commun. 2016, 7, 10141.
(6) Jenness, G. R.; Christiansen, M. A.; Caratzoulas, S.; Vlachos, D. G.; Gorte, R. J. J. Phys. Chem. C
2014, 118, 12899â??12907.
(7) Jenness, G. R.; Vlachos, D. G. J. Phys. Chem. C 2015, 119, 5938â??5945.
(8) Gilkey, M. J.; Panagiotopoulou, P.; Mironenko, A. V.; Jenness, G. R.; Vlachos, D. G.; Xu, B. ACS
Catal. 2015, 5, 3988â??3994.

Teaching Interests:

Based on my chemistry and research background, I am most suited to teach classes that are related to
physical chemistry (quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics etc.), as well as classes on
surface science, molecular simulations, and catalysis. Furthermore, I have an interest in formulating electives related to
the application of python programming to chemical research and in the writing, preparation, and presentation
of scientific results.

My approach to teaching has always been a reductionist approach with an emphasis on hands-on learning.
In this approach, the student is presented with a relevant, big picture problem that is relevant to the
current state of research. As an instructor, my goal is to dissect this problem into smaller problems, and
instruct the student on how to solve these smaller pieces. By engaging the student with similar problems as
homework and class projects, the student then learns how to perform such a decomposition on their own.

In addition to the reductionist approach in the classroom, I will employ a homework model that will emphasize
both student collaboration and public speaking. Inevitably, students assigned homework problems
will seek out help and advice from their fellow students. As an educator, it is critical to encourage such
collaborations. To this end, I will require my students to both list those they collaborated with and their
contributions. Class projects with a group component are also key, as this will not only encourage collaboration,
but also give the students experience in discussing scientific literature and results in a public setting.
In fostering collaboration and promoting public speaking, the student will form connections that can persist
throughout their careers, while providing opportunities for the student to enhance their communication


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