The Mellichamp Endowed Chairs in Sustainability

The chemical sciences provide both the components and the methods to create essential materials and modern medicines, as well as to destroy or immobilize environmental contaminants. Almost all existing and new technologies, including most renewable energy technologies, rely on chemical extraction, processing and manufacturing. However, widespread use of many desirable new and existing technologies could become severely resource-limited in the not-so-distant future. A systems-level approach aligning science and engineering considerations with assessment of environmental impact, economic feasibility and societal acceptance is needed to move US chemical manufacturing towards sustainable value chains. Furthermore, to achieve the necessary integration, sustainability principles must be incorporated into chemical processing at the design stage.

Via a Mellichamp Academic Initiative, the University of California, Santa Barbara, has approved a cluster of four endowed Chair positions with a common theme of “Sustainable Materials and Product Design”. The interests of the Chairholders will encompass green chemistry, sustainable manufacturing, sustainable catalytic processing, and economic analysis of sustainable chemical technologies. The cluster is the result of a philanthropic gift generously donated by Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp. All four Chairholders are expected to work together closely to foster broad and interdisciplinary research and education in chemical sustainability.

Mahdi Abu-Omar
  • Endowed Chair Mellichamp Academic Initiative in Sustainability
  • Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • Professor of Chemical Engineering


Design, synthesis, and mechanistic studies of catalysts aimed at green and sustainable processes for making chemicals, materials, and fuels from renewable feedstock; bioinspired catalysis for environmental remediation; fundamentals of electron and atom transfer reactions.

Phillip Christopher
  • Endowed Chair Mellichamp Academic Initiative in Sustainability
  • Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering
Susannah Scott
  • Professor of Chemical Engineering
  • Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • Mellichamp Academic Initiative Professor in Sustainable Catalytic Processing


Surface chemistry and catalysis; interactions and transformations of molecules at the gas-solid interface; investigation, design, and re-engineering of heterogeneous catalysts.

Sustainable Catalytic Processing

Chair - Susannah Scott

Catalysis provides selective, low energy pathways for chemical transformations, thereby reducing the use of raw materials and energy and minimizing the formation of undesired products. The majority of industrial chemical processes use catalysts, and the design of new, more efficient catalysts can have a major impact on the environmental footprint of manufacturing. It is also desirable to create catalysts based on Earth-abundant materials, to minimize the need for rare metals. Prof. Scott's research focuses on catalyst design for conventional large-scale processes such as olefin polymerization and metathesis, as well as new technologies such as biomass conversion to renewable chemical feedstocks.

Economics of Sustainable Technologies

Faculty appointment to be determined.

This Mellichamp Chair position encompasses research that applies economic analysis and other quantitative tools to issues involving sustainable chemical technologies. The successful candidate will bring a strong research program around novel chemical processes and materials based on quantitative analyses. Topics may include policy design and evaluation, corporate strategy, product choice and design, emerging markets, as well as other related areas. This faculty position will be hosted by UCSB's Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, although joint appointments will also be considered.

Green Chemistry

Chair - Mahdi Abu-Omar

Green chemistry involves the design of atom-efficient chemical syntheses, minimizing or effectively managing hazardous inputs, using Earth-abundant and/or renewable sources, preventing the formation of toxic products. The Mellichamp Chair in Green Chemistry is hosted by UCSB's Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering.

Sustainable Manufacturing

Chair - Phillip Christopher

Sustainable strategies in chemical processing include reducing or eliminating the use of rare elements and other scarce materials, minimizing the use of fresh water and energy, increasing the ease of recovery/recycling, and limiting the environmental toxicity of intended products, by-products and degradation products. The Mellichamp Chair in Sustainable Manufacturing is hosted by UCSB's Department of Chemical Engineering.