Michele L. Sarazen

Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Office Phone
A319 Engineering Quad

Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 2016

B.S., Chemical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, 2011


Honors and Awards

  • Howard B. Wentz, Jr. SEAS Junior Faculty Award, 2021
  • Princeton Engineering Commendation for Outstanding Teaching, 2021
  • Catalysis Society of Metropolitan New York Chair, 2021-
  • AIChE Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Board of Director, 2020-
  • Climate and Energy Grand Challenge Award, High Meadows Environmental Institute, 2020
  • NAE Frontiers of Engineering Symposium Invitee, 2019
  • UC Berkeley Heinz Heinemann Award for Graduate Research in Catalysis, 2015
  • National Science Foundation’s Graduate Student Research Fellow, 2011
  • North American Catalysis Society Robert J. Kokes Award, 2011


  • Associated Faculty, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
  • Associated Faculty, Department of Chemistry
  • Associated Faculty, High Meadows Environmental Institute
  • Associated Faculty, Princeton Materials Institute

Research Interests

Many industrial practices that use catalysts to produce chemicals, fuels, polymers, and pharmaceuticals have strong environmental impacts. The mission of our lab is to make advances in catalysis science and active site engineering to solve both fundamental and applied chemical engineering challenges to sustainably meet our growing energy and product demands. The Sarazen research group combines kinetic, synthetic, and theoretical techniques to elucidate reaction mechanisms of heterogeneous catalysts at the molecular level for atom- and energy-efficient conversions from conventional (petroleum), emerging (shale gas) and renewable (biomass- or electrocatalytically-derived) feedstocks to fuels and chemicals.

We primarily focus on one class of heterogeneous catalysts: porous crystalline materials such as zeolites, metal-organic frameworks, and porous organic polymers, which offer a large and diverse pool of catalysts and catalyst supports. Elucidating how important catalytic properties affect reactivity and selectivity, and controlling these properties via advanced synthesis strategies, are vital for the optimization and potential industrial application of heterogeneous catalysts. Precise synthesis of zeolites functionalized with various active sites or altered pore structures and metal-organic frameworks with flexible node and linker properties will allow interpretable kinetic measurements, which will be combined with density functional theory calculations, to develop a molecular understanding of how reaction networks proceed.

Selected Publications
  1. Yang, R.A. and Sarazen, M. L. Reaction pathways and deactivation mechanisms of isostructural Cr and Fe MIL-101 during liquid-phase styrene oxidation by hydrogen peroxide. Emerging Investigator Series Catalysis Science & Technology 11 (2021) 5282. DOI: 10.1039/D1CY00567G
  2. Adawi, H.I. and Sarazen, M. L. Alkylation of poly-substituted aromatics to probe effects of mesopores in hierarchical zeolites with differing frameworks and crystal sizes. Mol. Syst. Des. Eng., 6 (2021) 903. DOI: 10.1039/D1ME00062D.
  3. Noh G., and Sarazen, M. L. Transport in heterogeneous catalysis -- beyond reactant diffusion limitations, Journal of Catalysis. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcat.2021.09.028.
  4. Sarazen, M. L. and Iglesia, E. Stability of Bound Alkoxides during Reactions of Alkenes on Solid Acids, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114 (2017) E3900. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1619557114.
  5. Sarazen, M. L. and Jones, C.W. Insights into Azetidine Polymerization for Preparation of Poly(propyleneimine)-based CO2 Adsorbents, Macromolecules 50 (2018) 9135. DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.7b02402