New Director at European Bioenergy Research Institute

Leading catalysis and green chemistry expert, Karen Wilson has been appointed as Director of Research at the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI).

Karen has established a substantial reputation in heterogeneous catalysis for clean chemical technologies; in particular the conversion of sustainable and renewable resources to fuels and chemicals.

She brings a wealth of experience and facilities in this area to support a wide range of initiatives in EBRI in particular expertise in transforming waste biomass in the production of fuels and chemicals. This includes a portfolio of active Research Council, European and industrial projects worth in excess of £2.5M spanning the development of heterogeneous catalysts for renewable chemicals, fuels and materials from biomass, to depollution technologies for removing organic contaminants from water. The latter project is in collaboration with research groups across Europe, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand and seeks to use catalytic methods to depollute water effluent from the Seafood industry and Palm and Olive oil plantations.

Karen will be establishing at EBRI a state of the art heterogeneous catalysis research laboratory which will house advanced catalyst development and testing facilities, including in-situ methods for bulk and surface catalyst characterization, instrumentation for the analysis of porous materials, large scale catalyst preparation facilities and a suite of high pressure and flow reactors. Born in Liverpool and educated at King’s College at the University of Cambridge, Karen obtained a BA in Natural Sciences in 1992.  In 1993 she was awarded an MSc with distinction in heterogeneous catalysis from the University of Liverpool, after which she returned to Cambridge to undertake both a PhD (1993-98) and post-doctoral research in heterogeneous catalysis and surface science with Professor Richard Lambert.  In 1998 she moved to the University of York, to pursue post-doctoral research on the development of new mesoporous solid acids for clean technologies with Professor James Clark, and was subsequently appointed to a lectureship at York in 1999. Karen was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2007, prior to her appointment in 2009 as a Reader in Physical Chemistry at Cardiff University.

Karen is currently a Royal Society Industry Fellow working with Johnson Matthey on the development of catalytic materials to improve the efficiency of biomass to fuels conversion processes. More broadly Karen’s research interests lie in the design of heterogeneous catalysts for clean chemical synthesis, particularly the design of tuneable porous materials for sustainable biofuels and chemicals production from renewable resources.