Joshua Spurgeon, PhD

Joshua Spurgeon is the Theme Leader for Solar Fuels research at the Conn Center and is focused on economically viable approaches to solar fuels, electrosynthetic fuel formation, and novel, low-cost solar cell technologies.

He received his doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 2010. He also holds an MS in Chemical Engineering from Caltech (2006) and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of South Carolina (2004). He conducted research on proton exchange membrane fuels cell at the University of South Carolina (2000 – 2004), before pursuing research into scalable and inexpensive nanostructured photovoltaics at Caltech (2004 – 2009). As a post-doctoral scholar at Caltech (2010), he worked on multifunctional membranes for solar fuels applications and demonstrated the viability of solar-driven water vapor electrolysis. He then became a Research Scientist at the inception of the Department of Energy’s solar fuels innovation hub, the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP, 2011 – 2013), where his research involved photoelectrochemical studies of the interfaces between catalysts and semiconductors. He became Project Lead for the Interface group and Processing, Materials, and Integration Team at JCAP (2013) before leaving for the Conn Center at the University of Louisville in 2014.

Josh’s research includes the study of novel photoelectrode materials for solar fuels generation, low-cost semiconductor particle based water-splitting, earth-abundant electrocatalysts for water oxidation, and the design and innovation of novel catalysts and electrolyzer systems for fuel formation through the reduction of carbon dioxide.

Craig Grapperhaus, PhD

Craig Grapperhaus received his Ph.D. in 1998 from Texas A&M University under the direction of Marcetta Darensbourg. From 1998 to 2000, Dr. Grapperhaus was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Bioinorganic Chemistry with Karl Wieghardt in Mülheim, Germany. He joined the chemistry faculty at the University of Louisville in 2000, was promoted with tenure to associate professor in 2006, and promoted to full professor in 2011. Dr. Grapperhaus served as the Director of Graduate Studies in the Chemistry from 2005 to 2010 and as the Chemistry Department Vice Chair from 2009 to 2012 and 2015 - 2017. In July 2017, he assumed the position of Departmental Chair.


Prof. Grapperhaus was awarded the Provost's Award for Exemplary Advising, Graduate Faculty Advisor in 2011. In 2017, he was designated a Research Exemplar by The Research Exemplar Project at Washington University School of Medicine. The program defines exemplary researchers as individuals who conduct high-quality, high-impact research and demonstrate professionalism and integrity in their work. Also in 2017, Prof. Grapperhaus was awarded the College of Arts & Sciences award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research, & Creative Activity in the Basic & Applied Sciences.  


Professor Grapperhaus collaborates extensively with Dr. Mark Mashuta and Professors Robert Buchanan and Pawel Kozlowski in the Chemistry Department at the University of Louisville. In 2013, Prof. Grapperhaus took sabbatical at the Regenerative Medicine Research Center of West China Hospital, Sichuan University in Chengdu, China where he established an ongoing collaboration with Prof. James Kang. 

Robert Buchanan, PhD

Robert Buchanan received his Ph.D. in 1980 from University of Colorado, Boulder under the direction of Cortlandt G. Pierpont. From 1981 to 1982, Professor Buchanan was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Mark S. Wrighton in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He joined the chemistry faculty at the University of Louisville in 1982, was promoted with tenure to associate professor in 1988, and promoted to full professor in 1993.


Prof. Buchanan was awarded the President’s Young Investigator Award (Louisville) in 1988, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award 2005, University Distinguished Teaching Award 2005 and the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Service Award to the University 2016.


His general research interests include: organic and inorganic synthesis, crystallography, and magnetic properties of biomimetic inorganic and bioinorganic compounds; active site models of metalloproteins; C-H bond activation and conducting polymers; the design, preparation and evaluation molecular electrocatalysts containing non-innocent ligands and redox active and inactive metals for H2 generation, water oxidation and CO2 reduction.


Currently, we are evaluating the electrocatalytic behavior of a class of bis-thiosemicarbazone (btsc) complexes containing earth abundant metals (Ni(II), Cu(II) and Zn(II)) under homogeneous and heterogeneous conditions in collaboration with Dr. Grapperhauss and Dr. Gupta’s groups. These M(btsc) complexes are easily deposited on carbon surfaces generating stable electroactive coatings, which have been characterized using many conventional  surface analysis methods.

Gautam Gupta, PhD

Dr. Gupta’s key research is in the area of energy sustainability. Dr. Gupta was a Staff Scientist prior to joining the University of Louisville. Dr. Gupta works in the area of catalysis with emphasis on water splitting and fuel cells. The research is to develop novel materials based on carbon structures and transition metal dichalcogenides for applications in heterogeneous catalysis. A second research area is focused on developing hybrid perovskites for solar cells, LEDs and detectors. Dr. Gupta’s research is trying to address materials interfaces by developing novel tools and in-situ techniques that will yield information at an atomic scale. Finally, Dr. Gupta is working on developing silica based gels for encapsulation of sensitive biomolecules for their long-term storage at room-temperature. Since 2014 Dr. Gupta has published his research in high impact journals including, Science, Nature, Nature Materials, Nature Comm., Science Advances and others.

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