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Early Career Postdoctoral-Faculty Bridge Grant Winners Series: Katherine Shulenberger

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By ACS Green Chemistry Institute

In this series, we're spotlighting each winner of the inaugural ECP Faculty Bridge Grant! Join us in congratulating Katherine Shulenberger, assistant professor at Brandeis University.

By ACS Green Chemistry Institute

EPC Grant Winners Image Katherine blog.png










In 2023, six postdoctoral fellows were awarded ACS Early Career Postdoctoral (ECP) Faculty Bridge Grants. These grant winners will benefit from two-year appointments, offering vital support to postdoctoral fellows or faculty who are forming their own research groups. The program provides assistance at an important junction to foster resilient research programs, advance sustainability research, and facilitate the professional growth and mentorship of the recipients. In response to the long-standing need for green chemistry capacity-building among educators, applicants were also required to detail plans for incorporating green chemistry concepts into their teaching. 

ECP grant winner Katherine Shulenberger, now an assistant professor at Brandeis University, will pursue her project, “Heavy Metal-Free Nanocrystals for Clean Energy Generation.” To address drawbacks faced by existing materials used for renewable energy generation, like the reliance on toxic or scarce metals, Katherine’s lab will work to understand the properties of nanocrystals derived from sustainable materials. 

“The use and conversion of energy sits at the center of our daily lives,” Katherine said. “I always find myself wondering how we can find better sources of energy, more renewable and sustainable approaches, and simultaneously ensure our sources of renewable energy originate from sustainable and non-toxic materials. These questions motivate the systems I study in my lab.” 

Making these connections between everyday life and chemistry is also central to Katherine’s teaching. To inspire students to bridge class content and societal challenges, her courses will include using examples such as the impacts of strip mining and nitrate contamination of drinking water to understand topics like acid-base chemistry and solution reactions.

“By drawing these real-world connections to chemistry concepts,” she explained, “my hope is students are trained to look for them both in their daily lives, but also in their continuing chemical education.”

Before joining the faculty at Brandeis, Katherine Shulenberger was a Postdoctoral Researcher under Dr. Gordana Dukovic at the University of Colorado Boulder. Reflecting on Katherine’s contribution to her group, Dr. Dukovic said, “My research group studies fundamental material properties, such as electronic structure, excited state lifetimes, and elemental composition in order to better understand artificial photosynthetic systems. The ultimate goal of our work is to harvest solar energy using nanoscale systems. Dr. Shulenberger has picked up the torch: her independent work in the development of new materials and methods to understand and control excited state dynamics promises to open new directions in sustainable energy generation.”

Join us in whole-heartedly congratulating Katherine on this exciting achievement! Learn more about ACS Sustainability Grants and how you can apply on the ACS website.