On Wednesday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. PDT in Beckman Auditorium on the Caltech campus, Karthish Manthiram, professor of chemical engineering and chemistry and a William H. Hurt Scholar, will continue the 100th anniversary season of the Earnest C. Watson Lecture Series with "Electrifying and Decarbonizing Chemical Synthesis."
There is a significant carbon footprint behind the physical world, including the fabrics we wear, the foods we eat, and the disinfectants we spray. This problem presents the need to find ways to synthesize chemicals and materials in a sustainable manner that eliminates greenhouse gas emissions from these products. In this lecture, Manthiram will discuss how his lab is developing an approach that uses electricity to convert air and water into the useful chemicals and materials we rely on every day.
"There is a future in which chemical manufacturing could no longer harm the planet, where we could maintain our quality of life—even improve our quality of life—while sustainably manufacturing the chemicals that are essential to society," says Manthiram. "In our group, we have chemical engineers, chemists, mechanical engineers, and materials scientists all coming together to do something big. We're going after really, really difficult problems and uncovering Mother Nature's secrets."
Manthiram earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Stanford and a doctoral degree in chemical engineering from UC Berkeley. He first came to Caltech as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of the late Nobel laureate, Bob Grubbs, who was the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry. After starting his own lab at MIT in 2017, Manthiram returned to Caltech to join the faculty in 2021. His research interests are focused on creating electrically powered catalysts that use nitrogen gas, carbon dioxide, and water as sustainable inputs for chemical synthesis.
The 2022–23 season marks the centennial of The Earnest C. Watson Lecture Series, which has brought Caltech's most innovative scientific research to the public since the Friday Evening Demonstration Lectures premiered in October 1922. The series is named for Earnest C. Watson, a professor of physics at Caltech from 1919 until 1959.
The Watson Lectures, which are geared toward a general audience, spotlight a selection of the pioneering research conducted by Caltech's faculty as part of the Institute's ongoing commitment to benefiting the local community through education and outreach. All Watson Lectures are free and open to the public.
Many past Watson Lectures are available on YouTube.
No advance registration is required for the Watson Lectures, but you may sign up for event reminders here.
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