Soil and water

A new faculty of chemical engineering to explore sustainable fuels and pollution control

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – Two new faculty members will join the Penn State Department of Chemical Engineering. Gina Noh and Ezra Clark will begin in their new roles on January 1, 2022.

Noh is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich in Switzerland.

At Penn State, Noh will focus his research on studying materials that can help remove pollutants from soil and water and develop catalysts to improve the sustainability of chemical processes. In his previous work, Noh synthesized and analyzed catalytic materials to comprehensively understand how chemical reactions occur on their surfaces. For example, she worked with copper-based materials used to convert carbon dioxide into methanol, a renewable energy source that can also be produced with biomass and municipal waste.

“Penn State is a world-class research institute and a leading public school with students from diverse backgrounds,” Noh said. “The excellent facilities, from the Materials Research Institute to the chemical and biomedical engineering building, the wonderful and brilliant people, and the emphasis on catalysis and interdisciplinary collaborations drew me here.”

Clark is currently a Marie Skłodowska Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Technical University of Denmark.

Clark is interested in the development of electrochemical processes allowing the synthesis of basic chemicals and fuels from various sources, including carbon dioxide and water, in order to make these processes more sustainable. It also aims to better understand how the electronic properties of materials affect the chemical reactions occurring on their surfaces and how these properties can be altered to improve the efficiency of electrochemical processes.

Clark, who has explored electrochemical methods of producing carbon-neutral fuels from carbon dioxide, has several goals for his new position.

“My main goal is to motivate young students to make a positive impact in the world through technological innovation while simultaneously providing them with the education and training needed to be successful,” said Clark. “My secondary objective is to develop a recognized research program to explore new concepts with rigor and meticulous attention to detail. Finally, I want to help establish Penn State as a premier institution in catalysis and surface science with a collegiate team of faculty known for their collaboration and cooperation.