Prof. Erwin Reisner: he was born and raised in the foothills of the alps in Upper Austria and studied Chemistry at the University of Vienna. He developed an early interest in bioinorganic and coordination chemistry, and his PhD studies in the Keppler group focused on ‘redox activated ruthenium anticancer drugs’. Prof. Reisner subsequently changed from medicinal inorganic chemistry to different aspects of bio-inspired energy conversion as a postdoc. In the Lippard group at MIT, he studied synthetic models of the diiron(II) active site of soluble Methane Monooxygenase, which selectively converts natural gas to methanol. He subsequently joined the Armstrong group in Oxford to work on solar hydrogen production with enzyme-nanoparticle hybrid systems. His independent career started with an EPSRC research fellowship at The University of Manchester, followed by a University Lectureship at the University of Cambridge. He is currently the Professor of Energy and Sustainability and a Fellow of St. John’s College in Cambridge, coordinator of the UK Solar Fuels network, which organises the national activities in artificial photosynthesis, and the Cambridge Creative Circular Plastics Centre.
Carolina Pulignani, born in Rome (Italy) in 1994, graduated in Chemistry from Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza” in 2016 and received her Master’s in Synthetic methodologies and bio-organic chemistry from the Università di Bologna ALMA MATER in 2019. For her Master’s thesis, she developed bio-based inks for Digital-Light Processing (DLP) 3D printers: starting from monomers that could be derived from renewable sources, she synthesized a resin with more than 94% of bio-based content. After her graduation, she moved to Imperial College London as a post-graduate intern and, later, as a research assistant for a total period of 9 months. In London, the primary interest of her research has been related to photoelectrochemical studies of light-driven oxidation reaction of waste organic materials, focusing on the valorisation of the principal by-product in biodiesel production, glycerol, undertaking kinetic and selectivity studies with two different catalysts (i.e., hematite and bismuth vanadate) through photo-induced absorption (PIA) and transient photocurrent (TPC) measurements. She is now a ESR3 of SOLAR2CHEM project at the University of Cambridge, as a member of Reisner Group.
The SOLAR2CHEM consortium represents the perfect follow-up of Carolina’s background, alongside the possibility of working in an international environment. Her project brings together the two main areas she has been working on: organic chemistry and photo(electro)catalysis. More specifically, she is developing new carbon-based photo-electrocatalysts (i.e., Carbon Nitrites and Carbon Dots) and she is studying their application on promoting chemical valorisation reactions of waste organic compounds to produce value-added fine chemicals, thus providing a greener alternative approach to common industrial processes, minimizing wastes, pollutants generation and energy consumption. Besides, by using cheap metal-free photocatalysts, the costs of the overall process will be cut down. Additionally, she will focus on photoreforming with the aim of carrying out simultaneously solar fuel synthesis (i.e., hydrogen) and decomposition of waste biomass (lignocellulose), plastics or pollutants, by addressing at the same time the issues of renewable energy generation and sustainable chemical synthesis.