May 23, 2019
Congratulations to PhD student Daniel Bregante, who won a PhD Completion Award from the Graduate College at the University of Illinois.
Bregante’s dissertation will be on “Unraveling Inner- and Outer-Sphere Interactions that Impact Catalysis at the Liquid-Solid Interface.” He is a member of Dr. David Flaherty’s research group.
Many consumer products used today (e.g., plastics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals) rely on catalysis within liquid solvents (e.g., within methanol, water). However, there is a dearth of understanding for how specific solvents, surfaces, and intermediates interact and influence rates and selectivities, where small improvements can greatly reduce emissions and energy use. Within microporous materials (e.g., zeolite catalysts with less than 1 nm pores), the complexity of the system increases further because the solvent must arrange itself into specific structures to accommodate the small pores surrounding it.
“The central thesis of my PhD is that within zeolite catalysts, the confluence of interactions between confined solvents, surface intermediates, and (a)polar surfaces can be broken down into discrete energetics (e.g., electronic, confinement, H-bonding, …) that collectively describe the system,” Bregante said.
The Graduate College’s Dissertation Completion Fellowships help outstanding Illinois graduate students complete the doctoral degree by providing a one-year stipend of $20,000 along with tuition and fee waivers. The criteria used in making the awards include the significance of the research, as reflected in the nominee’s proposal and the letters of support, the student’s productivity and efficient progress toward the degree as shown in the academic record, and the likelihood that the student will defend and deposit the dissertation by August 2020.