Welcome to the Austin Laboratory


Biofuels Upgrading

Rational design of highly efficient direct deoxygenation catalysts essential for large-scale biofuel production.

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AlkB and petroleum decomposition

Exploring the practical bioinorganic chemistry of hydrocarbon decomposition in oil spills.

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Studying the effects of lead and other metals on neurological development.

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The Austin Laboratory is interested in understanding the role that metal ions play in key reactions in biology and in developing catalysts with important industrial and environmental applications. We use a variety of techniques, in collaborations with researchers from other labs, to answer questions about how hydrocarbons are metabolized by microorganisms, how lead impacts central nervous system development, and how renewable resources can be used to meet the world's ever growing energy needs. These projects reflect a pervading interest in understanding the connections between structure and function in catalytic and biological chemistry.


  • Students from the Advanced Synthesis Lab Course last spring were happy to see the fruits of their independent project culminate in a publication in the Journal of Chemical Education. See publications for more information.
  • Read our recent paper "Experimental and Theoretical Insights into the Hydrogen-Efficient Direct Hydrodeoxygenation Mechanism of Phenol over Ru/TiO2" in ACS Catalysis about our highly efficient direct deoxygenation catalyst, Ru on TiO2.
  • Congratulations to Adnan Shami Shah, Roch de Silva, Astrid Gleaton, and Angela Su on the publication of their thesis work: "Thermodynamics of Pb(II) and Zn(II) binding to MT-3, a neurologically important metallothionein". Read more here.