Catalysis Science & Technology Emerging Investigator- Esteban Mejía

Esteban Mejía studied chemistry at National University of Colombia in Bogota, where he also obtained his master’s degree with focus in polymer chemistry. In 2008 he moved to Switzerland to pursue his PhD in homogeneous catalysis at the ETH Zurich under the supervision of Antonio Togni. In 2012 he joined the group of Matthias Beller at the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis (LIKAT) in Rostock (Germany) as a postdoc. Later, he joined the group of Udo Kragl as senior scientist. In 2014 he started his independent career at LIKAT where he completed his Habilitation in 2020 (German equivalent to tenured professorship). He is currently leader of the group of Biocatalysis & Polymer Chemistry at the same institution and coordinator of the bilateral project (Rostock and Hanoi): RoHan – Catalysis SDG Graduate School. His current research focuses on homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, photochemistry, organometallic chemistry, polymers, materials, and sustainability.

Read Esteban’s Open Access Emerging Investigator article, ‘Highly Active Heterogenous Hydrogenation Catalysts Prepared from Cobalt Complexes and Rice Husk Waste’, DOI: 10.1039/D2CY00005A and find out more about Esteban and his work in our interview.


How do you feel about Catalysis Science & Technology as a place to publish research on this topic?

Catalysis Science & Technology offers a perfect milieu for both fundamental researches, as well as application-oriented technologies. For projects like this one, where the realization/implementation of the developed processes is our ultimate goal, and at the same time we aim to reach the broadest readership possible, it only makes sense to publish it here.


What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment and what do you find most challenging about your research?

I am certainly excited about seeing our catalysts someday being used in “real-life” applications, and our developed process being used to tackle the technological challenges we devise them for. However, to successfully jump from the bench to the pilot plant is certainly a challenge that requires more than good ideas and generous funding. Most of the time are social or political hurdles (or simply the people’s mindset) the highest activation barriers that we need to surmount.


In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?

In my opinion, in the field of green chemistry, the most important questions one must ask are “how does this research/process contributes to the overall picture?”, “does it really makes an improvement to status quo?” Apart from the exciting science, it is important to keep always an eye on sustainability aspects like mass-balances, energy consumption, carbon footprint, etc. The achievement of our sustainability goals is only possible by addressing catalysis in a holistic manner.


Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

When performing an experiment and assessing the results, you can have two options: either you get what you like, or you like what you get. Every time you interrogate a system you obtain a bit of information that eventually fits in your hypothesis, or helps to refine it or reformulate it. So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get what you were looking for! Every piece of data is valuable! there are no such things as “bad results”!


Find out more about Esteban’s recent work on his group website

You can also follow Esteban on LinkedIn

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)