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Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, University of California Santa Barbara

The Scott group conducts both fundamental and applied research in surface chemistry and catalysis. We aim to understand the interactions and transformations of molecules in solution and at gas-solid interfaces by creating highly uniform active sites. We apply techniques from organometallic and coordination chemistry, surface science, spectroscopy, kinetics, mechanistic analysis and modeling to investigate, design and re-engineer heterogeneous catalysts. A key element of our strategy is to synthesize well-defined molecular precursors and anchor them onto solid supports via self-limiting surface reactions. For example, organochromium complexes CrRx are precursors to active sites in the Phillips (Cr/SiO2) catalysts for ethylene polymerization, while perrhenates such as (CH3)3ReO3 and CH3ReO3 are precursors to supported olefin metathesis catalysts.

Deducing the nature of surface reactions and the structures of active sites is achieved by a combination of kinetics (including stoichiometric and catalytic reaction kinetics, isotope labeling, isotopic transient analysis, and product distribution analysis), as well as spectroscopy (including vibrational, NMR, UV-vis, and X-ray absorption). The group is comprised of researchers in inorganic chemistry, materials and chemical engineering working together to solve catalysis problems at the intersection of chemistry and reaction engineering.

Some of our current research projects include:
• Redox reactions catalyzed by PGM-substituted complex oxides
• Controlled, autocatalytic synthesis of supported metal nanoparticles
• Well-defined supported catalysts for olefin metathesis and tandem alkane metathesis
• Creating and understanding supported olefin polymerization catalysts and cocatalysts
• Surface structure and chemistry of oxides
• Catalytic routes to polymer nanocomposites
• Catalysts for converting biomass to fuels and chemicals
• New spectroscopic and kinetic methods for studying heterogeneous catalysts


  • –present
    Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara