Marcel Schreir, the Richard H. Soit Assistant Professor in chemical and biological engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was named a Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering on Tuesday. The Packard Fellowship, funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, is given to early-career scientists and engineers pursuing innovative high risk, high reward research.
Schreir’s lab focuses on electrocatalysis — developing methods to transform chemicals using electricity. The lab’s research often occurs at the molecular level, examining the electrochemical interface. The electrochemical interface is a key part in electrocatalysis, as it mediates the strength between key intermediates in a chemical reaction and the surface of an electrode. This interface generates an electrical field gradient, allowing researchers to manipulate the reaction. Schreir's work seeks to tune the properties of the interface in order to create beneficial reactions. These methods may be particularly useful in the chemical industry, replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.
“The chemical industry makes everything that surrounds us — paints, lubricants, coatings, plastics,” Schreir said in a university release. “All these chemical products are being produced currently by fossil fuels. At the same time, we have an increasing amount of renewable energy in the form of electricity.”
Schreir’s research is contributing to a carbon neutral future of the chemical industry, where the industry can rely on renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. The lab group will receive $857,000 over five years. Schreir hopes to expand his lab, purchase new equipment and continue supporting his students' work.
“The key benefit is that it will give our lab the flexibility to really explore our ideas,” said Schreir. “It’s an honor for our entire group.”