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Bayreuth chemist gains membership to prestigious “Young Academy”

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University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 032/2018, 1 March 2018

Prof. Dr. Mirijam Zobel (32), Junior Professor of Chemistry at the University of Bayreuth, was accepted to the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities’ “Young Academy” on 1 March 2018. Her membership provides 12,000 euros a year in funding until 2020.


Understanding catalytic processes and cutting resource consumption  

Even as a student, Zobel already addressed interdisciplinary research questions at the intersection of chemistry, physics, and engineering. Building on this foundation, she is now hoping to gain an advanced scientific understanding of “heterogeneous catalysis” in a new project. This is the quintessence of a chemical process in which the substances reacting to each other, on the one hand, and the catalyst, on the other, possess different physical states (solid, liquid, or gas). The research focuses on nanoparticles from palladium and gold. As heterogeneous catalysts, these particles can help decrease resource and energy consumption, whether via three-way catalytic converters in automobiles, in oil refineries, or in the chemical industry to produce basic chemicals such as ammonia in large volumes (several tons).

To make these potentials available for industrial purposes in green chemistry it must first be clarified how the precious metal nanoparticles change over the course of catalysis. That, in turn, requires a more precise investigation of their inner structure. To determine the structures of particles, Prof. Zobel makes use of the Pair Distribution Function – a research procedure which is still in its early stages and which she has already used with great success in nanoparticle research. A high-performance X-ray diffractometer, which will soon accelerate this research, is expected to be set up on campus shortly.

In the Robert Bosch Foundation’s Fast Track Programme

Dr. Mirijam Zobel was born in Ochsenfurt in 1986. From 2005 to 2010 she received a scholarship as a student enrolled in the Elite Network of Bavaria’s programme in Chemistry & Biological Engineering at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, and she completed her doctorate in physics in 2015 with a thesis on nanoparticles and their boundary surfaces. Her dissertation was graded summa cum laude, and led to a Staedtler Doctoral Prize in 2016. In 2017, after a postdoctoral visit to the University of Aarhus, Dr. Zobel accepted a junior professorship at the University of Bayreuth in the field of “Solid State Chemistry – Mesostructured Materials”. That same year, she was also accepted to the Robert Bosch Foundation’s Fast Track Programme, designed to provide individual support for outstanding early-career scholars and to prepare them to take on leadership roles in science.

The Young Academy (Junges Kolleg)

The Young Academy of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities has a total of 20 members, four of which belong to the University of Bayreuth: Dr. Hauke Marquardt (geosciences), Dr. Lena van Hoven (musicology), Dr. Gilbert Ndi Shang (literature), and most recently Dr. Mirijam Zobel. Young Academy members are also extraordinary members of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The Young Academy is financed by the Bavarian State Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, Science and the Arts.


Prof. Dr. Mirijam Zobel
Junior Professor of Mesostructured Materials
University of Bayreuth
E-mail: mirijam.zobel@uni-bayreuth.de (preferred)
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-4355

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Christian Wißler
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95447 Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356
E-mail: christian.wissler@uni-bayreuth.de

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