Princeton Catalysis Initiative will hold research symposium and introduce website

Friday, Oct 1, 2021
by Wendy Plump

The Princeton Catalysis Initiative (PCI) opens the academic year with much to celebrate, including its first research symposium in over 20 months and the introduction of a new website highlighting its mission and partnerships.

The 2021 Princeton Catalysis Initiative Symposium will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 20 in Taylor Auditorium at Frick Laboratory, Department of Chemistry. As in the past, the symposium will feature enlivening, eight-minute flash talks by Princeton University faculty keen to share their research in order to create new synergies.

“After many months apart, the symposium will provide us with a great face-to-face opportunity to present our most exciting work in a gathering of peers,” said David MacMillan, a founding faculty member of PCI and the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry. 

“PCI has a unique approach to creating collaborations through the simple act of bringing really smart people together,” he added. “We’re thrilled to be hosting the event that will catalyze our next round of collaborations across campus.”

PCI was founded in 2017 by a core group of faculty from the Department of Chemistry who wanted to catalyze new research by introducing campus researchers to options for cross-disciplinary collaboration. Today, PCI is on track to support 600 collaborations across 10 years with $75M in committed funding. 

The annual symposium is the Initiative’s marquee event.

Vice Dean for Innovation Rodney Priestley, the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, will present at the symposium. “The Princeton Catalysis Initiative Symposium is one of the truly remarkable ways in which the University research community comes together to exchange ideas and build collaborations with the potential to benefit society,” he said. 

“PCI encourages not just interdisciplinary collaboration, but the creation of entirely new fields of research from which solutions to future challenges emerge.”

David MacMillan, Marissa Weichman, Rodney Priestley and Filiz Garip.

(Clockwise:) David MacMillan, Department of Chemistry; Marissa Weichman, Department of Chemistry; Rodney Priestley, Vice Dean for Innovation, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering; Filiz Garip, Department of Sociology. Montage by C. Todd Reichart

Marissa Weichman, assistant professor of chemistry, will talk about her research on polaritons, which are quantum states with mixed identities. “Presenting at the PCI Symposium is a great opportunity to get my group's ideas and the problems we are interested in out on the table in front of a broad, interdisciplinary audience,” said Weichman. “I can't think of a better forum to help make unexpected connections, start conversations, and find potential collaborators here at Princeton.”

October’s symposium marks the first gathering for PCI since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Although our particular domains vary, many of us on campus are working on similar foundational questions and, sometimes, hitting similar methodological roadblocks,” said Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs Filiz Garip, who will present on the impact of climate change on human mobility. “I am curious to learn about how others are approaching these questions and overcoming the obstacles they face, and hoping I will be able to import some of these ideas to my own domain.”

More than 20 faculty members from eight departments across campus will present at the symposium. Due to space limitations, attendees are encouraged to contact PCI beforehand: catalysis@princeton.edu.

For more information on both the symposium and PCI, visit the Initiative’s new website: https://pci.princeton.edu/.

This article was originally published on the Department of Chemistry website.