CENTC History and Other Information

The Center for Enabling New Technologies Through Catalysis (CENTC) was a National Science Foundation Phase II Center for Chemical Innovation. The aim of the Center was to discover and develop catalytic science that will enable the implementation of new processes for efficient, environmentally responsible production of chemicals and fuels from common feedstocks. Through catalysis, CENTC researchers sought to lower the energy costs to transforming chemicals, use inexpensive, abundant and nontoxic starting materials and generate less waste.

The Director of CENTC was Prof. Karen Goldberg of the University of Washington, Seattle (as of 2017, Vagelos Professor of Energy Research at the University of Pennsylvania). An Executive Committee comprised of the Director and additional center investigators makes major decisions for the center with the input of the External Advisory Board. Members of the Executive Committee during the lifetime of the Center included Maurice Brookhart (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Alan Goldman (Rutgers University), William Jones (University of Rochester), and Melanie Sanford (University of Michigan). The day-to-day operations of the Center were managed by Dr. Nadine Gruhn.

CENTC was located across fifteen North American university campuses and one national laboratory. The University of Washington was the lead institution where the Principal Investigator and staff were located.

University of Washington, Seattle
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
North Carolina State University
Rutgers University
University of California – Berkeley
University of California – Santa Barbara
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Texas
University of Ottawa
University of Pennsylvania
University of Rochester
University of Wisconsin
Yale University

CENTC had 20 senior investigators located at the various partner institutions. Annually, these senior investigators collaborate on CENTC research with over 60 graduate students, postdoctoral associates, undergraduate students, and visiting faculty.

Collaboration was at the core of CENTC with the vision that scientific advances are best made through collaboration rather than competition. The varied talents of the members of the Center together with the broad research themes leads to facile cross-fertilization of ideas and fosters new approaches and insight into problems in catalysis.

The National Science Foundation Division of Chemistry established the Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI) Program to nurture innovative approaches to addressing intellectual challenges in basic chemical research and education with the potential for broad societal impact. CCIs are meant to provide the opportunity for ambitious groups of investigators to share a commitment toward solving a "big problem" in an atmosphere having a high tolerance for risk and within a structure permitting considerable agility. Information on the other Phase II CCI's can be found at http://www.nsf-cci.com/.

The NSF CCI program was originally implemented as the Chemical Bonding Centers (CBC) program.  Under Phase I of the CBC program, The Center for Activating and Transforming Strong Bonds (CATSB) was formed in September 2004 (NSF award CHE-0434568) with 13 investigators at 8 institutions. Phase II funding was granted in 2007 (NSF award CHE-0650456), and CATSB was renamed CENTC. The CBC program also became the Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI) program in 2007. CENTC was renewed for a second five-year period in August 2012 (NSF award CHE-1205189). After completion of a one-year no-cost extension, NSF funding to CENTC ended on August 31, 2018.