Yale University
225 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06520
phone: 203.432.5215


  • Catalytic Transformation of Biomass

    Development of new earth-abundant metal catalysts for selective transformation of lignin model compounds and lignocellulosic biomass.

    This project aims to selectively defunctionalize lignin while preserving aromaticity and a useful degree of complexity.  It is important to develop biomass as a renewable source of chemicals but we must strive to do so in a sustainable fashion.  Conversion of lignin from agricultural waste and energy crop residues to higher-value products has potential to produce chemicals and fuels without competing with food resources.  The fundamental catalytic chemistry has already been established for the most part using precious metals.  The price and scarcity of these metals may exclude them from practical applications in industrial-scale biomass conversion.  Our goal is to use cheaper, more abundant metals for these catalytic steps.  The chemistry of the expensive metal complexes can be used to help guide the development of cheaper metal alternatives.  The development of catalysts based on abundant metals would have important impacts beyond biomass chemistry as well.

  • Tailored Design of Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) Physicochemical Properties

    Working with the 12 Principles of Green Engineering in the development of a design framework for tailored carbon nanotube (CNT) reactivity and cytotoxicity to enhance performance in product applications and prevent unintended environmental consequences.
    Photo: Tailored Design of Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) Physicochemical Properties

    Both single- and multi-walled carbon nanotubes have unique properties that are being exploited for numerous promising applications, from alternative energy to therapeutic drug delivery.  While promotion of these applications is important, responsible implementation is essential to the sustainability of the nanotechnology industry.  Therefore, it is necesary to further understand and identify the specific properties of CNTs that govern cytotoxicity and methods in which these properties can be systematically controlled.  With this knowledge, future design and manufacture of CNTs can be tailored for specific applications to both enhance product performance and avoid unnecessary deleterious impacts. 

  • Sweeteners and Other Flavor Agents Relevant to Existing and Emerging Tobacco Products

    To support ongoing Yale TCORS research into the role flavor additives play in initiation and addiction to existing and emerging tobacco products, the overall objective of this project is to characterize and quantify the composition and quantity of key sweeteners and other flavor additives in salable chewable and dissolvable products as well as e-cigarettes.

    The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act banned the sale of tobacco cigarettes with added artificial and natural flavors.  However, this ban does not extend to chewable or dissolvable tobacco products or to electronic cigarettes.  Of particular concern with these emerging products is that certain flavors, sweeteners in particular, are thought to lower the threshold for adolescent tobacco use initiation and reinforcement.  It is known that these emerging products contain sweeteners and other flavor additives in addition to ground tobacco and nicotine.  However, the specific composition and quantity of these components are not well characterized making it difficult to replicate the impact of actual product formulations on behavior.

    The results of this project will guide the design and implementation of in vivo tests in mice and rats examining the effects of flavors on nicotine consumption and central reward pathways, with the overall goal of ascertaining the role of these additives in initiating and reinforcing tobacco product use, particularly relevant to susceptible users such as adolescents.