Susannah Scott

Distinguished Professor
Chemical Engineering and Joint Appt: DCB

Office Hours

By Appointment

Contact Phone

(805) 893-5606

Office Location

3325 Engineering II
Building 489, Room 101



Dr. Scott received her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Iowa State University in 1991. She pursued her postdoctoral studies at the Institut de recherches sur la catalyse in Lyon, France with a NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship, and joined the faculty of the University of Ottawa (Canada) in 1994, where she was named to a Canada Research Chair in Catalyst Design. She moved to UCSB in 2002. She is the recipient of an NSERC Women’s Faculty Award (1994-1999), the Polanyi Prize in Chemistry (1994), a Cottrell Scholars Award (1997), and a Union Carbide Innovation Award (1998).


Research Group Website:

Research Objective

The Scott group conducts both fundamental and applied research in surface chemistry and catalysis. We aim to understand the interactions and transformations of molecules in solution and at gas-solid interfaces by creating highly uniform active sites. We apply techniques from organometallic and coordination chemistry, surface science, spectroscopy, kinetics, mechanistic analysis and modeling to investigate, design and re-engineer heterogeneous catalysts. A key element of our strategy is to synthesize well-defined molecular precursors and anchor them onto solid supports via self-limiting surface reactions. For example, organochromium complexes CrRx are precursors to active sites in the Phillips (Cr/SiO2) catalysts for ethylene polymerization, while perrhenates such as (CH3)3ReO3 and CH3ReO3 are precursors to supported olefin metathesis catalysts.

Deducing the nature of surface reactions and the structures of active sites is achieved by a combination of kinetics (including stoichiometric and catalytic reaction kinetics, isotope labeling, isotopic transient analysis, and product distribution analysis), as well as spectroscopy (including vibrational, NMR, UV-vis, and X-ray absorption). The group is comprised of researchers in inorganic chemistry, materials and chemical engineering working together to solve catalysis problems at the intersection of chemistry and reaction engineering.

Some of our current research projects include:
• Redox reactions catalyzed by PGM-substituted complex oxides
• Controlled, autocatalytic synthesis of supported metal nanoparticles
• Well-defined supported catalysts for olefin metathesis and tandem alkane metathesis
• Creating and understanding supported olefin polymerization catalysts and cocatalysts
• Surface structure and chemistry of oxides
• Catalytic routes to polymer nanocomposites
• Catalysts for converting biomass to fuels and chemicals
• New spectroscopic and kinetic methods for studying heterogeneous catalysts


Selected Research Publications

Wigington, B. N.; Drummond, M. L.; Cundari, T. R.; Thorn, D L.; Hanson, S. K.; Scott, S. L. "A Biomimetic Pathway for Vanadium-Catalyzed Aerobic Oxidation of Alcohols: Evidence for a Base-assisted Dehydrogenation Mechanism", Chem. Eur. J. 2012, 18, 14981-14988.

Tucker, M. H.; Crisci, A. J.; Wigington, B. N.; Phadke, N.; Alamillo, R.; Zhang, J.; Scott, S. L.; Dumesic, J. A. "Acid-Functionalized SBA-15-Type Periodic Mesoporous Organosilicas and their Use in the Continuous Production of 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural", ACS Catal., 2012, 2, 1865-1876. Featured on Journal Cover (issue 9).

Zhong, L.; Lee, M.-Y.; Liu, Z.; Wanglee, Y.-J.; Liu, B.; Scott, S. L. "Spectroscopic and structural characterization of Cr(II)/SiO2active site precursors in model Phillips polymerization catalyst", J. Catal., 2012, 293, 1-12.

Tovar, T. M.; Stewart S. M.; Scott, S. L. "Origin of the ZnCl2 Effect on CH3ReO3/?-Al2O3 in Olefin Metathesis", Top. Catal., 2012, 55, 530-537.

Wanglee,Y.-J; Hu, J. G.; White, R.E.; Lee, M.-L.; Stewart, S. M.; Perrotin, P.; Scott, S. L. "Borane-Induced Dehydration of Silica and the Ensuing Water-Catalyzed Grafting of B(C6F5)3 to Give a Supported, Single-Site Lewis Acid, ≡SiOB(C6F5)2", J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 355-366.

Zhu, J.; Ouyang, X.; Lee, M.-Y.; Davis, R. C.; Scott, S. L.; Fischer, A.; Thomas, A. "Two-step synthesis of Fe2O3 and Co3O4 nanoparticles: towards a general method for synthesizing nanocrystalline metal oxides with high surface area and thermal stability", RSC Adv. 2012, 2, 121-124.

Kunkel, B. M.; Peoples, B. C.; Yung, C. M.; Scott, S. L. "Clay-Catalyzed Cracking Leads to Suppressed Flammability in Clay-Polyolefin Nanocomposites", Macromol. Mater. Eng. 2011, 296, 1075-1080.

Kurzman, J. A.; Li, J.; Schladt, T. D.; Parra, C. R.; Ouyang, X.; Davis, R.; Miller, J.T.; Scott, S. L.; Seshadri, R. "Pd2+/Pd0 Redox Cycling in Hexagonal YMn0.5Fe0.5O3: Implications for Catalysis by PGM-Substituted Complex Oxides", Inorg. Chem. 2011, 50, 8073-8084.

Crisci, A. J.; Tucker, M. H.; Lee, M.-Y.; Jang, S.-G.; Dumesic, J. A.; and Scott, S. L. "Acid-Functionalized SBA-15-Type Silica Catalysts for Carbohydrate Dehydration", ACS Catal., 2011, 1, 719-728.

Perrotin, P.; McCahill, J. S. J.; Wu, G.; Scott, S. L. "Linear, High Molecular Weight Polyethylene from a Discrete, Mononuclear Phosphinoarenesulfonate Complex of Nickel(II)", Chem. Commun. 2011, 47, 6948-6950.

Vicente, B.C.; Nelson, R. C.; Moses, A. W.; Chattopadhyay, S.; Scott, S. L. "Interactions Involving Lewis Acidic Aluminum Sites in Oxide-Supported Perrhenate Catalysts", J. Phys. Chem. C 2011, 115, 9012-9024.

Vicente, B. C.; Huang, Z.; Brookhart, M.; Goldman, A. S.; and Scott, S. L. "Reactions of Phosphinites with Oxide Surfaces: A New Method for Anchoring Organic and Organometallic Complexes", Dalton Trans. 2011, 40, 4268-4274.

Lee, M.-Y.; Scott, S. L. "Quantitative Investigation of a Hybrid Ziegler-Natta Catalyst Support Prepared by Grafting Di(n-butyl)magnesium onto Partially Dehydroxylated Silica", Chem. Eur. J. 2011, 17, 4632-4639.

Fleischman, S. D.; Scott, S. L. "Evidence for the Pairwise Disposition of Grafting Sites on Highly Dehydroxylated Silicas, via their Reactions with Ga(CH3)3", J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133, 4847-4855; featured on the journal cover (issue 13).

Xia, H.; Fleischman, S. D.; Li, C.; Scott, S. L. "Spectroscopic Evidence for Extra-Framework Heterometallic Oxo-Clusters in Fe/Ga-ZSM-5 Catalysts", J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 2011, 2, 190-195.

Vicente, B. C.; Nelson, R. C.; Singh, J.; Scott, S. L.; van Bokhoven, J. A. "Electronic Structures of Supported Pt and PtSn Nanoparticles in the Presence of Adsorbates and during CO Oxidation", Catal. Today, 2011, 160, 137-143.

Scott, S. L. "Clay-Polyolefin Nanocomposites by In Situ Polymerization", in Advances in Polyolefin Nanocomposites, V. Mittal, Ed., Taylor-Francis: Boca-Raton, FL, 2011, pp. 129-184.