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Bert Chandler joins Department of Chemistry Faculty
28 September 2020
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Bert Chandler

The Department of Chemistry is very pleased to announce that Professor Bert Chandler will join its faculty as a professor with joint appointments in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Chemistry on January 1, 2021. Chandler will also serve as the director of Penn State’s new Catalysis Center.

Chandler earned his bachelor’s degree at Georgia Southern University and completed his PhD at the University of Minnesota under the direction of Professor Lou Pignolet. Chandler comes to Penn State from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where he is a professor of chemistry.

Phil Bevilacqua, head of the Department of Chemistry, noted, “We are particularly excited to have Bert join the faculty.  He is an outstanding scientist who has the unusual combination of approaching problems at the interface of chemistry and chemical engineering while thinking like an enzymologist.  His research, not to mention his leadership of the new Catalysis Center, is going to elevate the already excellent work in this field on campus and in our department in particular.”

Chandler is also looking forward to collaborating with Penn State scientists. “Penn State has the reputation of being a world-class research institution, especially in chemistry and chemical engineering,” Chandler notes. “I have collaborated with Penn State faculty for over a decade and have always been impressed with the people here, both as outstanding scientists and outstanding people.”

Currently, Chandler and his research group are interested in metal nanoparticle chemistry, especially reaction mechanisms over supported nanoparticle catalysts.  These are materials consisting of a metal dispersed on an oxide or semiconductor support, which are widely used to control emissions from chemical plants, for energy storage and conversion, and to convert oil to gasoline and commodity chemicals.   

The Chandler group is trying to develop a better understanding of the complex chemistry occurring directly at the metal-support interface, where adsorbates on the metal can interact with the hydroxyl groups on the oxide.  The group has recently focused on Au as a catalyst, and they have uncovered a number of properties that make Au a unique, understudied, and especially interesting catalyst.  The group is now moving to control these unique chemistries and modify both the metal and support surfaces to design and control specific new catalytic properties.  Over time, the Chandler group plans to leverage this new understanding to develop new catalysts that will meet the challenges of tomorrow’s industrial needs, especially in the areas of oxidation and hydrogenation chemistry. 

Chandler looks forward to continuing this important research at Penn State. “Penn State has a great nucleus of faculty in this highly interdisciplinary area, so I’m very much looking forward to working with my new colleagues,” he explains.  “As the director of a new Center in Catalysis, my primary goal is to build on the substantial strengths already at Penn State and help the University develop a more coordinated approach to catalysis research. I hope to help develop stronger collaborative ties between chemistry and engineering, so that we can provide the best possible educational and research experiences to all our students.”

Outside of the lab, Chandler is also eager to get involved in Penn State’s educational mission. “Coming from a primarily undergraduate institution, I appreciate how dedicated Penn State is to its undergraduate programs,” he adds. “That institutional dedication, and the dedication of the faculty to being outstanding teacher-scholars speaks highly of Penn State and its values. I’m excited to be a part of this community and look forward to contributing to the continued development of the University and all its students and alumni.”

In his free time, Chandler enjoys playing volleyball and—when possible—traveling with his family. He looks forward to exploring the east coast, watching Penn State volleyball, and getting involved in all the outdoor activities that Happy Valley has to offer, including hiking, biking, and fishing. “I grew up in the DC area, so coming back home is great,” Chandler adds, “and my family is excited to see all the US history the East Coast has to offer.”  

Please join the Department of Chemistry in welcoming Professor Chandler to Penn State.