Principal Investigator

Dr. Nirala Singh

Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering (2018-Present)
ChemE Car Advisor (2018-Present)
Postdoctoral Researcher, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (2015-2017)
Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Washington (2015-2017)
PhD, Chemical Engineering, University of California Santa Barbara (2010-2015)
BS, Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan Ann Arbor (2006-2009)

Office: 2050W, Building No. 28, North Campus Research Complex
Contact: 734-764-1571

Graduate Students

Danielle Richards (E-Mail:

PhD, Chemical Engineering (2017-present)
MS, Chemical Engineering (2017-present)
BS, Chemical Engineering, New Mexico Tech (2013-2017)

Project: Surface electrocatalysis for NO3- electroreduction
Danielle is currently working on developing a mechanistic understanding of nitrate reduction on platinum group metals. For these metals and other metals, the reaction of adsorbed hydrogen and nitrate is often cited in literature as the rate determining step for the reduction of nitrate to N2. Her work involves evaluating the surface coverages of adsorbed species on different crystalline facets and using different adsorption isotherms to gain insights to the system adsorption thermodynamics.

Harsh Agarwal (E-Mail:

PhD, Chemical Engineering (2017-present)
MS, Chemical Engineering (2017-present)
B.Tech, Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (2013-2017)

Project: Electrocatalysts for Vanadium-based Redox Flow Batteries
Harsh is currently working on deciphering the mechanism associated with reduction of V3+ to V2+ ion in Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFBs). There is significant literature that claims that this reduction limits the overall efficiency of the battery affecting it's viability for commercial applications. His work involves comparing the activity of different catalysts by doing electrochemical measurements to obtain kinetic parameters.

Cailin Buchanan (E-Mail:

PhD, Chemical Engineering (2018-present)
MSE, Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan Ann Arbor (2016-2018)
MS, Sustainability and Environment, University of Michigan Ann Arbor (2016-2018)
BS, Chemical Engineering, The Ohio State University (2012-2016)

Project: Electrocatalysts for Cerium-based Redox Flow Batteries
Cailin is working to further the understanding of the kinetics at the electrode surface of the Ce3+/ Ce4+ half-cell reaction in a redox flow battery. The Ce3+/ Ce4+ redox couple has been utilized extensively in organic electrosynthesis and is promising for energy storage applications due to its large positive potential, but it is limited by competition with oxygen evolution as well as low solubility in most media. Rates of reaction for various electrolytes and catalyst combinations will be studied in order to optimize the positive half-cell reaction. Her work also involves characterizing cerium species complexed with various ions using UV-Vis spectroscopy to inform possible mechanisms of the redox reaction.

James Akinola (E-Mail:

PhD, Chemical Engineering (2018-present)
MS, Chemical Engineering (2018-present)
BSc, Chemical Engineering, University of Lagos (2011-2016)

Project: Electrocatalytic Hydrogenation of Bio-oil
James is currently on the lookout to understand aqueous phase adsorption of phenol (a bio-oil model compound) on platinum, rhodium and palladium catalysts during electrocatalytic hydrogenation (ECH). In order to understand the electrocatalytic activity on electrode surfaces, he is probing the reaction using surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) corroborated with adsorption energy measurements. Initial work will consist of engineering electrodes with surface roughness to amplify SERS signal. The long term goal of this project is to design novel catalysts for improved bio-oil hydrogenation and develop a unique model for predicting reaction rates of ECH phenol from adsorption energies and spectroscopic measurements.

Zixuan Wang (E-Mail:
Co-advised by Prof. Bryan Goldsmith

PhD, Chemical Engineering (2016-present)
MSE, Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan (2016-2018)
BSE, Chemical Engineering, Arizona State University(2012-2016)

Project: Investigating Alloys for Electrochemical Nitrate Reduction Reaction
Zixuan is currently working on developing catalytic materials for nitrate reduction. By utilizing computational results from the Goldsmith group, this project focuses on synthesizing and testing a combination of metal alloy catalysts that would further enhance the activity and selectivity of this reaction. Additionally, the results tested from thermal and electrocatalysis will help elucidate and improve fundamental mechanisms of nitrate reduction.

Claire Yin (E-Mail:
Co-advised by Prof. Suljo Linic

PhD, Chemical Engineering (2020-present)
BS, Chemical Engineering, University of Notre Dame (2016-2020)

Project: To be decided
Claire is excited to work in the field of electrocatalysis and enjoy the city of Ann Arbor. She enjoys hiking and reading books in her free time.

Undergraduate Students

Evan Ortiz (E-Mail:

BS, Mathematics (2019-present)

Bio: Evan is currently a first-year looking to study math and natural sciences. Most of his life has been spent overseas and because of this he loves traveling and finding new experiences. He enjoys basketball, playing chess and being outdoors. He is excited to work with Zixuan to work on the effect of pH on nitrate reduction and enhance his knowledge of basic chemistry.


PhD Recipients

Name Year Current Position
Benjamin Silcox 2020

MS Recipients

Name Year Current Position
Jiun-Yeu (Rita) Chang 2020 PhD Student, Sakamoto group, University of Michigan
Cem Komurcuoglu 2020 PhD Student, Urban Research Group, Columbia University

Undergraduate Students

Name Affliation
Alexandra Tomlinson Chemical Engineering, 2021
Spencer Cira Chemical Engineering, 2021
Kara Steshetz Chemical Engineering, 2020
Austin Shelton Chemical Engineering, 2020