J. Will Medlin

Will Medlin
Denver Business Challenge Endowed Professor • C2B2 Site and Managing Director
(303) 492-2418



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 Dean’s Outstanding Research Award, 2015
  • AIChE Himmelblau Award, 2015 (shared with John Falconer, Janet Degrazia, Garret Nicodemus)
  • Dept. of Chemical and Biological Eng. Graduate Teaching Award, 2012
  • College of Engineering Hutchinson Teaching Award, 2010
  • Boulder Faculty Assembly Teaching Excellence Award, 2009
  • Provost’s Faculty Achievement Award, 2013 and 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

  1. C.-H. Lien, J.W. Medlin, “Control of Pd catalyst selectivity with mixed thiolate monolayers”, Journal of Catalysis, 339 (2016) 38-46.
  2. A.M. Robinson, G. Ferguson, J. Gallagher, S. Cheah, G. Beckham, J. Schaidle, J. Hensley, J.W. Medlin, "Enhanced hydrodeoxygenation of m-cresol over bimetallic Pt-Mo catalysts through oxophilic metal-induced tautomerization pathway", ACS Catalysis, 6 (2016) 4356-4368.
  3. S.H. Pang, J.W. Medlin, “Controlling Catalytic Selectivity via Adsorbate Surface Orientation: From Furfural Deoxygenation to Olefin Epoxidation", J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 6 (2015) 1348-1356,
  4. T.D. Gould, A.M. Lubers, A.R. Corpuz, A.W. Weimer, J.L. Falconer, J.W. Medlin, “Controlling nanoscale properties of supported platinum catalysts through atomic layer deposition”, ACS Catalysis, 5 (2015) 1344-1352.
  5. R.M Williams, S.H. Pang, J.W. Medlin, “Ring opening and oxidation pathways of furanic oxygenates on oxygen-precovered Pd(111)”, J. Phys. Chem. C, 118 (2014) 27933-27943.
  6. S.H. Pang, C.A. Schoenbaum, D.K. Schwartz, J.W. Medlin, “Effects of Thiol Modifiers on the Kinetics of Furfural Hydrogenation over Pd Catalysts”, ACS Catalysis, 4 (2014) 3123-3131.
  7. T.D. Gould, A. Izar, A.W. Weimer, J.L. Falconer, J.W. Medlin, “Stabilizing Ni Catalysts by Molecular Layer Deposition for Harsh Dry Reforming Conditions”, ACS Catalysis, 4 (2014) 2714-2717.
  8. M.M. Montemore, J.W. Medlin, “A Unified Picture of Adsorption on Transition Metals Through Different Atoms”, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 136 (2014) 9272-9275.
  9. C.A. Schoenbaum, D.K. Schwartz, J.W. Medlin, “Controlling the Surface Environment of Heterogeneous Catalysts Using Self-Assembled Monolayers”, Accounts of Chemical Research, 47 (2014) 1438-1445.
  10. K.R. Kahsar, D.K. Schwartz, J.W. Medlin, “Control of Metal Catalyst Selectivity through Specific Non-Covalent Molecular Interactions”, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 136 (2014) 520-526.
  11. S.H. Pang, C.A. Schoenbaum, D.K. Schwartz, J.W. Medlin, “Directing Reaction Pathways by Catalyst Active-Site Selection using Self-Assembled Monolayers”, Nature Communications 4 (2013) 2448.
  12. S.T. Marshall, M. O’Brien, B. Oetter, A. Corpuz, R.M. Richards, D.K. Schwartz, J.W. Medlin, “Controlled selectivity for palladium catalysts using self-assembled monolayers”, Nature Materials, 9 (2010) 853-858.

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.

Our efforts to research various applications are united by a common theme: a variety of experimental and computational tools are employed 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.

Our research focuses on the following main areas:

  • Surface reactivity and catalyst design for conversion of biomass-derived oxygenates to chemicals
  • Model studies of electrocatalytic interfaces
  • Designing artificial “binding pockets” on metal catalysts
  • Catalysts for selective deoxygenation biomass pyrolysis oil
  • Fundamental investigations metal – metal oxide – organic interfaces