CENTC History and Other Information

The Center for Enabling New Technologies Through Catalysis (CENTC) is a National Science Foundation Phase II Center for Chemical Innovation. The aim of the Center is 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 can lower the energy costs to transforming chemicals, use inexpensive, abundant and nontoxic starting materials and generate less waste. Fundamentally new technologies are needed to reduce our dependency on foreign oil both for fuels and for chemicals.

The Director of CENTC is Prof. Karen Goldberg of the University of Washington, Seattle. 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. The current members of the Executive Committee are Alan Goldman (Rutgers University), William Jones (University of Rochester), and Melanie Sanford (University of Michigan). The day-to-day operations of the Center are managed by Dr. Nadine Gruhn.

CENTC is located across fourteen North American university campuses and one national laboratory. The University of Washington is the lead institution where the Principal Investigator and staff are located.

CENTC has 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 is 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.

Rather than a single physical location, CENTC is a virtual center with personnel at 15 sites across North America spanning four times zones. CENTC relies heavily on cyberinfrastructure for communication due to this distributed nature, including monthly center-wide videoconference meetings as well as frequent smaller group discussions and video chat meetings during the day-to-day operation of Center activities.

CENTC is committed to NSF's goal to expand the numbers of individuals from groups underrepresented in the STEM fields engaged in the science and engineering enterprise. All CENTC institutions are equal-opportunity employers.

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. CENTC investigators are working together to tackle one of the most urgent and critical issues in the world today – the need for more efficient, inexpensive and environmentally friendly methods of producing chemicals and fuels. 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).