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

  • NSF CAREER Award, 2024
  • AIChE 35 Under 35 Award, 2023
  • Journal of Catalysis Early Career Editorial Board, 2023-
  • Water and the Environment Grand Challenge Award, High Meadows Environmental Institute, 2022
  • The Catalysis Review “Mover and Shaker”, 2022
  • Outstanding Early Career Paper Award, MSDE, 2021
  • Pioneers of Catalysis and Reaction Engineering, AIChE CRE Division, 2021
  • Howard B. Wentz, Jr. SEAS Junior Faculty Award, 2021
  • Princeton Engineering Commendation for Outstanding Teaching, 2021
  • Catalysis Society of Metropolitan New York (Past) Chair, 2021-
  • AIChE Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Board of Director, 2020-2023
  • 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. Hullfish, C., Tan, J.Z., Adawi, H.I., and Sarazen, M.L.* Toward intrinsic catalytic rates and selectivities of zeolites in the presence of limiting diffusion and deactivation, ACS Catalysis, 13 (2023) 13140. DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.3c03559
  2. Tan, J.Z., Hullfish, C., Zheng, Y., Koel, B.E., and Sarazen, M.L.* Conversion of polyethylene waste to gaseous hydrocarbons under mild temperature and hydrogen pressure with metal-loaded and metal-free zeolites, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 338 (2023) 123028. DOI: 10.1016/j.apcatb.2023.123028
  3. Moore S.C., and Sarazen, M.L.* Stability and kinetics of iron-terephthalate MOFs with diverse structures in aqueous pollutant degradation,  AIChE Journal 2023 Futures Issue, early view article. DOI: 10.1002/aic.18205
  4. Moore, S.C., Smith, M.R., Trettin, J.L., Yang, R.A. and Sarazen, M.L.* Kinetic Impacts of Defect Sites in Metal-Organic Frameworks Catalysts under Varied Driving Forces, ACS Energy Letters 8 (2023) 1397. DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.2c02893
  5. Smith M.R., Martin, C.B., Arumuganainar, S.E., Gilman, A., Koel, B.E., and Sarazen, M.L.* Mechanistic Elucidations of Highly Dispersed Metalloporphyrin Metal-Organic Framework Catalysts for CO2 Electroreduction, Angewandte Chemie 62 (2023) e202218208. DOI: 10.1002/anie.202218208
  6. Yang, R.A., and Sarazen, M.L.* Mechanistic Impacts of Metal Site and Solvent Identities for Alkene Oxidation over Carboxylate Fe and Cr Metal–Organic Frameworks, ACS Catalysis 12 (2022)14476. DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.2c04351
  7. Adawi. H.I., Odigie, F. and Sarazen, M.L.* Alkylation of poly-substituted aromatics to probe effects of mesopores in hierarchical zeolites with differing frameworks and crystal sizes, Molecular Systems Design & Engineering (MSDE) 6 (2021) 903. DOI: 10.1039/D1ME00062D
  8. 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 in Catalysis Science & Technology 11 (2021) 5282. DOI: 10.1039/D1CY00567G