Principal Investigator

Professor Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson is an Assistant Professor of chemical engineering at Brown University and is the concentration advisor to undergraduates in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. He received his B.Ch.E. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota, and spent four years in industry before starting his graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His Ph.D. was under the supervision of Professor Jefferson Tester and focused on reaction engineering in supercritical water systems. While at MIT, he was a frequent guest researcher at the Paul Scherrer Institut (Switzerland) and worked at BP Chemical and Cabot Corporation while earning a masters degree in chemical engineering practice during his graduate studies at MIT. He performed postdoctoral research with Jens Nørskov at the Technical University of Denmark and at Stanford University, where Andy led the group's efforts on understanding carbon dioxide electrocatalytic reduction from an electronic structure standpoint. Since coming to Brown, Andy has been the recipient of the Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Tuhina Adit Maark

Tuhina Adit Maark is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Brown University's School of Engineering since September 2012. Following her Masters in Chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Bombay, India, she carried out her Ph.D. at National Chemical Laboratory, India under the guidance of Director, Prof. Sourav Pal. Her doctoral work was on computational study of hydrogen storage materials for fuel cells, with specific focus on complex metal hydrides, magnesium hydride, and metal-organic frameworks. She also contributed to a joint Indo-EU project "New materials for hydrogen powered applications". During her Ph.D. she was awarded Senior Research Fellowship by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India. Tuhina is a Swedish Institute Fellow and performed her postdoctoral research at Uppsala University with Prof. Rajeev Ahuja where she continued her work on hydrogen storage and started a joint collaboration with Center for Nanotechonology, University of Bahrain, UAE on application of TiNi alloy as an electrode in Li ion batteries. Currently at Brown University Tuhina is a part of an ARO-MURI funded project, studying the effects of externally applied stress on the catalytic properties of transition metals for electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 to CO.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Martha Gialampouki

Martha Gialampouki is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the School of Engineering at Brown University since February 2014. In January of 2014, she received her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Ioannina in Greece. Her PhD thesis focused on structural and electronic properties of metallic or oxide nanostructures on carbon substrates (CNTs and graphene) by ab-initio calculations. During her PhD, she was awarded for her research at the Solid State Physics and Materials Science Conference. Martha also worked as Teaching Assistant in the Computer Laboratory at University of Ioannina. Currently at Brown University, she is studying the solid-electrolyte interphase phenomena in Li-ion batteries with electronic structure methods.

Graduate Student

Benjamin Johnson

Benjamin Johnson entered Brown in 2011 as a Ph.D. graduate student in chemical engineering. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After completing his undergraduate degree he worked for several years in environmental engineering, conducting on-site monitoring and remediation activities at chemically contaminated sites across the United States. He left industry to return to research and began graduate studies at Brown, joining Andrew Peterson's Catalyst Design Lab in 2012. In 2013 he was elected to Associate Membership in the Brown University Chapter of Sigma Xi. Benjamin's research interests include clean/renewable energy resources, sustainable development, and computer programming and technology applications in chemical engineering.

Graduate Student

Alireza Khorshidi

Alireza Khorshidi is a PhD graduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Brown University, and joined the Catalyst Design Lab in the spring of 2014. He received his B.S. (2008) and M.S. (2011) degrees in Civil Engineering and Structural Engineering, respectively, from Sharif University of Technology, Iran. He has research experience in micromechanics and elasticity of materials. His previous research achievements were published in Journal of Elasticity and Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids. He is currently interested in studying the effect of mechanical strain on catalysis.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Seok Ki Kim

Seok Ki Kim joined the Catalyst Design Lab at Brown University as a Postdoctoral Research Associate since Dec 2013. In the fall of 2011, he received his Ph.D. in chemical and biological engineering from Seoul National University. His doctoral research was focused on designing a Pd catalyst for the hydrogenation of C2 hydrocarbons. After finishing up his Ph.D. degree, he was involved in several government research projects, specifically, development of supercritical­ catalysis converging technology for the biofuel production and development of design technology of nano­materials having optimized catalytic reactivity through massive computation, working as a post­doctoral research fellow in Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST). Currently at Brown University, his research interest is designing rational catalysts for the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons based on both the experimental and theoretical perspective.

Graduate Student

Yin-Jia Zhang

Yinjia Zhang is a Ph.D graduate student in the chemistry department in Brown since 2011 and is working as a research assistant in Catalyst Design Lab since 2012. During her undergraduate in Zhejiang University (ZJU), she was a student of Chu Kochen Honors College and received her B.S. in chemistry from ZJU – Hangzhou, China in 2011. Her research interests include heterogeneous catalyst for carbon dioxide reduction and computational chemistry. She is currently studying the product selectivity for carbon dioxide reduction in electrochemistry mainly via DFT calculations and related experimental works.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Kai Yan

Kai joined in School of Engineering at Brown University as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in December 2013. After he finished his Master degree from Taiyuan University of Technology in 2008 in China, he started his PhD study in Max-Planck-Institute for Coal Research in 2008 in Germany with the support of Max-Planck-Society Scholarship. His PhD work focused on the synthesis of nano-structured catalysts using chemical fluid deposition method for catalytic transformation of cellulose-derived intermediates into value-added chemicals. He obtained his PhD from RWTH Aachen University in 2011. After that, he received the Ontario Postdoctoral Fellowship and worked at Lakehead University (Canada) as a postdoctoral fellow in 2012. His research interests continue on the novel synthesis of nanomaterials for catalytic conversion of biomass-derived monomers and photocatalysis.


Group alum

Undergraduate DiMase Family Fellow

Cory Hargus

Cory Hargus is an undergraduate in his senior year at Brown University. He has spent over a year as a member of the Catalyst Design Lab, studying the potential use of reduced metal oxides as coupled energy carriers and catalysts for the deoxygenation of low-grade bioliquids to upgraded fuel products. Cory’s research has been sponsored by a grant from the Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation (IMNI) and a fellowship from the DiMase Family. Off campus, Cory is an assistant and substitute teacher in math and robotics courses at the Wheeler School in Providence and performs in several musical groups around the city.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Ronald Michalsky

Ronald Michalsky joined the Catalyst Design Lab at Brown University as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in June 2012. He received his M.S. in biotechnology from the University of Applied Sciences Mittelhessen. His thesis and short-term employment as a Research Scientist revolved around the development of membrane technology for the production of biopharmaceutical vectors. In 2012 he received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Kansas State University focusing on low-pressure solar-thermal reduction of nitrogen and water to ammonia. Currently at Brown University, his research interests are use of electronic structure calculations for the rational design of novel catalytic materials and electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons. Off campus, Ronny likes to spend his time with traveling, hiking and playing piano.

Masters Student

Ming Xu

Ming Xu matriculated at Brown in the fall of 2011 as a graduate student at the School of Engineering, right after finishing up his bachelor's degree in Polymeric Materials and Engineering from Sun Yat-sen University in mainland China, where he also worked part-time as a teaching assistant for the Yale-China Teaching Fellows program during his senior year. In the Peterson group, his work was under the realm of computational chemistry investigating the effects of electric dipole fields on the adsorbate-metal surface system, especially during the adsorption and dissociation processes in hopes of identifying a more mathematically rigorous form of BEP (the Brønsted–Evans–Polanyi) relation. Outside of lab work, he is an avid science writer with his work featured in The Providence Journal, The College Hill Independent, etc. He is also actively involved in the Chinese international community on campus by serving on the board of Brown’s Chinese Students & Scholars Association from 2012-2013.