Gerald Knizia, assistant professor of chemistry, has been honored with a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support his work on “quantum embedding of wave function methods as a path to high-accuracy thermochemistry in heterogeneous catalysis.”
The CAREER award is the NSF's most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.
The CAREER award will provide five years of funding to support Knizia’s research to develop an accurate and efficient theoretical approach to heterogenous catalysis. The Knizia group focuses on the computational analysis of chemical reaction mechanisms. The award supports efforts to translate the existing high-accuracy techniques for modeling molecular reaction networks, several of which have been developed by the Knizia group, to reactions that take place on a hard surface (such as a metal or metal oxide, which acts as a catalyst). Catalysts help speed up chemical reactions and are used in the production of household products and almost all industrial chemicals. A sound microscopic understanding of the processes of chemical reactions at the smallest scale, obtained by computational analysis, could help substantially in developing new catalysts or improving existing ones.
Before joining the faculty at Penn State, Knizia was a junior group leader at the University of Stuttgart from 2013 to 2014, a postdoctoral scholar at Princeton University from 2012 to 2013, and a postdoctoral scholar at Cornell University from 2011 to 2012. He earned a doctoral degree in chemistry at the University of Stuttgart in 2010 and a master's degree in physics at Dresden University of Technology in 2006.