Full Professor of Sustainable Chemistry & Catalysis
I obtained both my Master’s degree (2002) and Ph.D. degree in Chemistry (2007) from Utrecht University (both cum laude, highest distinction). My doctoral studies focused on the development of bio-inspired oxidation catalysts and models for non-heme iron enzymes. After receiving my PhD degree, I was awarded an NWO Rubicon grant (2007) to work in the medicinal inorganic chemistry group of Prof. Peter Sadler at the University of Warwick, U.K. on catalytic drug development.
In 2009, I returned to Utrecht as a tenure-track assistant professor to work on the catalytic conversion of biomass and renewables for the production of bulk and fine chemicals. In 2013 I got tenure and 2015 was promoted to Associate Professor Catalysis for Renewables. In 2018, I got appointed as Full Professor to hold the chair of 'Sustainable Chemistry & Catalysis' at the Organic Chemistry & Catalysis group of the Debye Institute of Nanomaterials Science. Over the years, my research has been supported by VENI (2010), VIDI (2013) and VICI (2022) grants from the Netherlands Science Foundation (NWO). Recently, we launched a new research institute at the Faculty of Science, the Institute for Sustainable and Circular Chemistry.
My field of research focuses on the development of new catalysts and new conversion routes for the sustainable production of chemical building blocks and materials, e.g. by valorization of lignocellulosic biomass and biomass-derived platform molecules, CO2 and waste feedstock. We are also particularly interested in the circularity aspects of chemistry, e.g. in the design of new, readily recyclable or degradable circular plastics and chemical building blocks. Topics include the catalytic depolymerization or direct material use of lignin, plastics upcycling, and furanics-based chemical building blocks synthesis. For this, we use both heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysts. In addition to catalyst design, particular emphasis is put on advanced (automated) structural characterization of the complex biomass feeds and waste streams (e.g. industrial lignins and humins).
Research is often carried out as part of public private partnerships and of international and industrial collaborations. We aim to gain fundamental understanding of the catalytic process, i.e. the elucidation of structure-activity relationships, to study catalyst stability and deactivation and to study mechanistic aspects of the reaction as well as the material and end-of-life products of the chemicals and materials we make.
Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our informal atmosphere and the can-do attitude of our people. This fundamental connection attracts Researchers, Professors and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the university and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community.