Robert Nielsen

Robert Nielsen

416E Engineering Tower

Samueli School of Engineering
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697


Nielsen earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and his doctorate from the California Institute of Technology, both in chemical engineering. He comes to UCI from Caltech, where he has served for more than a decade as the director of catalysis in the Materials Simulation Center. At the center, Nielsen worked with students and postdocs using atomistic models to determine mechanisms and structure-function relationships responsible for the selectivity and activity of heterogeneous and molecular catalysts for hydrogen evolution, CO2 reduction and water oxidation. He led programs in alkane oxidation, solar fuels and hydrosilylation that addressed the efficient use of natural gas reserves and the implementation of renewable energy technologies. He has published more than 50 journal articles on these topics. The work has led him to explore ways of combining computation and chemical intuition to identify promising materials in the practically infinite space of composition.

Ph.D., California Institute of Technology

Electronic structure, thermodynamics and mechanism, catalysis applied to alkane activation, solar fuels