00:00 AM

Swanson School announces appointment of John Keith as inaugural RK Mellon Faculty Fellow

PITTSBURGH  (March 4, 2013) … The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering has named John Keith, PhD as Assistant Professor and R.K. Mellon Faculty Fellow, according to an announcement from Steven R. Little, PhD, Associate Professor, CNG Faculty Fellow and Chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. Dr. Keith's appointment is funded in part through the 2012 Richard King Mellon Foundation grant to the University's Center for Energy, in which Dr. Keith will also participate. 

"On behalf of the Department, I'm pleased to welcome John to the Swanson School," Dr. Little said. "I especially want to thank the Richard King Mellon Foundation for their gift, which is enabling us to attract stellar researchers to Pittsburgh." 

"John's research into catalytic processes will contribute greatly toward our efforts to improve energy technology and sustainability, noted Brian Gleeson, PhD, Director of the Center for Energy and Harry S. Tack Chair in Materials Science, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. "The Richard King Mellon Gift is enabling us to build an interdisciplinary foundation toward energy research, particularly research related to functional materials for energy applications. Indeed, John will represent a key player on our team." 

Dr. Keith's research focus will be on developing and applying multiscale computational methods to predict how to develop novel catalysts and enhance existing processes that convert CO 2  and water into useful chemicals and fuels. In collaboration with experimentalists, this work will likely contribute to finding economically feasible routes for energy solutions.

Prior to joining the Swanson School, Dr. Keith was an associate research scholar with Emily Carter, Founding Director, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering & Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University. In addition to mentoring several graduate students, Dr. Keith was a lecturer and did research within a collaborative AFOSR-MURI program to better understand rhenium catalyzed CO 2  reduction to CO and pyridinium catalyzed CO 2  reduction to methanol. Prior to that he was an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Dr. Timo Jacob, Director of the Institute for Electrochemistry at the University of Ulm (Germany). There, he used computational chemistry to model heterogeneous electrocatalytic reaction mechanisms, self-assembled monolayer metallization processes, and he contributed to the development of a reactive forcefield for gold surfaces and nanoparticles.

Dr. Keith received his BA in chemistry with high honors from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, where he was first introduced to theoretical chemistry by George Petersson, PhD, Professor of Theoretical and Computation Chemistry and Fisk Professor of Natural Science. As an undergraduate he received American Chemical Society Connecticut Valley Regional Award (2001); the Bradley Prize for outstanding undergraduate thesis in chemistry (2001); and the American Chemical Society Analytical Chemistry Award (2000). Before entering graduate school, he spent a semester instructing introductory chemistry laboratory at the University of Minnesota while working as a visiting researcher with noted computational quantum and theoretical chemistry researcher Donald G. Truhlar, PhD, Regents Professor of Chemistry. 

His graduate research using first principles quantum chemistry to model solution phase organometallic catalysis was carried out under William A. Goddard, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics and Director of the Materials and Process Simulation Center at the California Institute of Technology where in 2007 he received his PhD in chemistry.

About the Swanson School of Engineering
The University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering is one of the oldest engineering programs in the United States. The Swanson School has excelled in basic and applied research during the past decade and is on the forefront of 21st-century technology, including energy systems, sustainability, bioengineering, microsystems and nanosystems, computational modeling, and advanced materials development. Approximately 120 faculty members serve more than 3,200 undergraduate and graduate students in six departments, including bioengineering, chemical and petroleum engineering, civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, and mechanical engineering and materials science. For the two most-recently reported consecutive years, 2009 and 2010, the Swanson School has had the second-highest percentage of doctoral degrees awarded to women in North America, according to the American Society for Engineering Education.


Contact: Paul Kovach