Ian A. Tonks

Chemistry
College of Science and Engineering
Twin Cities

Award Year
2018
University Award
McKnight Land-Grant Professorship
Research Title
Enabling sustainable chemistry through catalysis with Earth-abundant metals

No Monument Location

Resource scarcity and environmental pollution are significant challenges facing society. Developing new processes that utilize renewable chemical feedstocks and environmentally benign reagents is of paramount importance to overcoming them. The Tonks group is creating organometallic catalysts (molecules that promote or accelerate chemical reactions) based on earth-abundant, nontoxic metals like titanium. These are used in reactions with renewable feedstocks such as biomass (corn, switchgrass) and carbon dioxide to make complex molecules such as pharmaceuticals and plastics.