It is with great pleasure that the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry welcomes Prof. Mahdi Abu-Omar as our newest faculty member. Prof. Abu-Omar joins our department as the Mellichamp Chair in Green Chemistry, one of the endowed chairs in the Mellichamp Academic Initiative in Sustainability. Prior to his appointment at UCSB Prof. Abu-Omar was the R.B. Wetherill Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Professor of Chemical Engineering at Purdue University. Prior to his appointment at Purdue Prof. Abu-Omar was a member of the faculty at UCLA. Prof. Abu-Omar received his B.S. in Chemistry from Hampden-Sydney College in 1992, his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Iowa State University in 1996, and was a Postdoctoral Scholar in bioinorganic chemistry at the California Institute of Technology.
Prof. Abu-Omar’s research utilizes catalysis and sustainable chemistry as key research themes to provide solutions and innovations for energy, food and water, and production of fine chemicals. To this end Prof. Abu-Omar’s research group has developed nanoparticle Re catalysts for making alkenes and allylic alcohols from glycerol, a waste byproduct of biodiesel. They have developed and implemented catalysts that convert lignocellulose biomass to valuable chemicals, materials, and fuels, focusing on atom economy, high selectivity and minimization of waste byproducts. Prof. Abu-Omar currently serves as associate director for the Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3Bio), a DOE Energy Frontiers Research Center that bridges the disciplines of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Biology and Bioengineering and spans five separate institutions. His research is well-suited to the multidisciplinary and collaborative atmosphere of UCSB.