J. Will Medlin

Will MedlinAssociate Professor and ConocoPhillips Faculty Fellow; C2B2 Site Director
(303) 492-2418
Curriculum Vitae
Google Scholar Profile
Medlin Research Group
Screencasts and ConcepTests at www.LearnChemE.Com


Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware (2001)
B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Clemson University (1996)
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Sandia National Laboratories (2001-2002)


  • College of Engineering Hutchinson Teaching Award, 2010
  • Boulder Faculty Assembly Teaching Excellence Award, 2009
  • Provost’s Faculty Achievement Award, 2008
  • College of Engineering and Applied Science Faculty Development Award, 2006
  • Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2006 and 2009
  • National Science Foundation CAREER Award, 2004
  • College of Engineering and Applied Science Junior Faculty Award, 2006
  • Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, 2004

Selected Publications

  • M. Rangan, M. Yung, J.W. Medlin, “Simplified metrics for design of sulfur-tolerant biomass tar reforming catalysts”, Journal of the American Chemical Society, submitted (2009).
  • J.W. Medlin, C.M. Horiuchi, M. Rangan, “Effects of ring structure on the reaction pathways of cyclic esters and ethers on Pd(111)”, Topics in Catalysis, in press (2010).
  • C.M. Horiuchi, J.W. Medlin, “Adsorption and decomposition of ?-butyrolactone on Pd(111) and Pt(111)”, Surface Science, 604 (2010) 98-105.
  • C.M. Horiuchi, M. Rangan, B. Israel, J.W. Medlin, “Adsorption and ring-opening of 2,5(H)-furanone on the (111) surfaces of Pd and Pt: Implication for selectivity in reactions of unsaturated cyclic oxygenates”, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 113 (2009) 14900-14907.
  • M.T. Schaal, M.P. Hyman, M. Rangan, S. Ma, C.T. Williams, J.R. Monnier, and J.W. Medlin, “Theoretical and experimental studies of Ag-Pt Interactions for supported Ag-Pt bimetallic catalysts”, Surface Science 603 (2009) 690-696.
  • S.T. Marshall, D.K. Schwartz, J.W. Medlin, “Selective Acetylene Detection through Surface Modification of Metal-Insulator-Semiconductor Sensors with Alkanethiolate Monolayers”, Sensors and Actuators B 136 (2009) 315-319.
  • S.T. Marshall, C.M. Horiuchi, W. Zhang, J.W. Medlin, “Common Decomposition Pathways for 1-Epoxy-3-butene and 2-Butenal on Pd(111)”, Journal of Physical Chemistry C 112 (2008) 20406-20412.
  • D.C. Kershner, W. Zhang, J.W. Medlin, “Investigation of submonolayer SiOXspecies formed from oxidation of silane on Pt(111)”, Surface Science 602 (2008) 3225-3231.

Research Interests

Our group investigates reactions at solid surfaces for renewable and sustainable energy applications. We are particularly focused on interfacial chemistry important in the conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals. Biomass-derived carbohydrates and lipids contain a high degree of oxygenate functionality, and it is a major challenge to develop new catalysts capable of selective conversions of the oxygenates to useful fuel and chemical products. A major focus of our group is to design such catalysts based on a molecular-scale understanding of the oxygenate-catalyst interaction. We also conduct research in interfacial chemistry related to hydrogen fuel cells—in particular, we are interested in gaining a fundamental understanding of how key physical features of the electrocatalytic interface control the mechanisms for key reactions, so that improved electrocatalysts can be designed.

Our efforts to research various applications are united by a common theme: quantum chemical calculations are used in direct combination with experimental techniques to obtain a detailed understanding of chemical and physical phenomena at solid surfaces. Having this understanding in hand allows us to design improved catalysts that we can screen under realistic conditions in chemical reactors. With the rapidly expanding speed of modern computers, these kinds of combined experimental/theoretical studies are poised to have a major impact on all branches of science and engineering research.

Our research focuses on the following main areas:

  • Surface reactivity and catalyst design of multifunctional oxygenates
  • Model studies of electrocatalytic interfaces
  • Developing enhanced biomass tar reforming catalysts
  • Catalysis for diesel production from biomass-derived lipids
  • Fundamental investigations metal – metal oxide – organic interfaces