Katherine M. Van Heuvelen Research

Developing Bio-Inspired Catalysts

Metalloenzymes found in biological systems catalyze a remarkable range of reactions with impressive efficiency and selectivity, and these reactions occur under benign conditions using earth-abundant materials. The Van Heuvelen lab draws inspiration from nature to develop new, environmentally friendly catalysts for important reactions.

We are currently studying the dechlorination of carcinogenic pollutants perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene. Metalloenzymes containing cobalt or nickel have been shown to remediate these pollutants. We synthesize small molecular mimics of metalloenzyme active sites and evaluate their reactivity. Insights into the fundamental chemistry that governs these reactions will be used to improve our catalyst design. We also study our compounds using computational methods.

Students interested in this work are encouraged to contact Prof. Van Heuvelen at vanheuvelen@g.hmc.edu to talk about opportunities in the lab.

Experimental Expertise

Air-free synthesis (standard Schlenk techniques), GC-MS, HPLC, MS Spectroscopic Expertise: UV-visible Absorption, Infrared, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Magnetic Circular Dichroism, Electron Paramagnetic Resonance, X-ray Absorption, X-ray Emission.

Computational Expertise

Density Functional Theory (DFT), Time-Dependent DFT, QM/MM, XSEDE Supercomputing System.