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Dr Amanda Garcia has been awarded a highly competitive tenure-track grant of 950,000 euros from the NWO program on electrochemical conversion and materials (ECCM). Focussing on electrocatalysis and electro-organic synthesis, she will join the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences and boost the growing group of interdisciplinary researchers collaborating in the Amsterdam Centre for Electrochemistry (Amcel).

Garcia's research at HIMS will focus on the fundamental and applied aspects of electrochemical energy conversion and production of chemicals and fuels using renewable electricity. She aims to bridge the gap between fundamental electrocatalysts and industrial implementation of electro-organic synthesis with overall system development: "Electrochemistry can help up store electricity in the form of 'electrofuels', and it enables 'electrochemicals' production", Garcia explains. She points out that the implementation of large-scale electrification faces various challenges. New electrochemical technologies have to be developed and related scaling-up issues have to be solved. "More fundamental challenges relate to the limited efficiency of some chemical transformations and the hitherto relatively limited scope of electrochemical synthesis. My aim is to understand in detail how to couple simple organic molecules electrochemically to C1 and N1 feedstocks. I will use these insights to build new electrochemical cells to optimize selectivity and yield of selected reactions."

Strong embedding and a growing community

Garcia will join electrochemists Dr Ning Yan and Dr Klaas-Jan Schouten at the Heterogeneous Catalysis & Sustainable Chemistry group, giving her immediate access to state-of-the-art equipment and strong technical support with room for further growth. Her team will form part of the Research Priority Area Sustainable Chemistry, strengthening the RPA's efforts in electrosynthesis and electrocatalysis. Moreover, she will benefit from the facilities and collaborations within the Amsterdam Centre for Electrochemistry (Amcel), which includes researchers from the UvA, AMOLF, ARCNL, the Avantium Liquid Light lab and the Shell research labs in electrochemistry.

Amanda Garcia
Dr Amanda Garcia. Photo: HIMS.

Amanda Garcia studied chemistry at Maringá University in Brazil and obtained her PhD in 2011 with Prof. Edson Ticianelli from São Paulo University on fundamental electrochemistry. From 2012 to 2017 she was a postdoctoral fellow funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) in the group of Prof. Germano Tremiliosi at São Paulo University, developing the field of electrochemical biomass conversion. During this period, she also spent three months as a guest postdoc at the University of Poitiers and two years at Leiden University in the group of Prof. Marc Koper, working also in collaboration with UvA-HIMS as a postdoctoral fellow of the Holland Research School of Molecular Chemistry. In 2017, she joined the European Union A-Leaf project at Leiden University for one year, after which she accepted a position at TNO, working on power-to-chemicals in collaboration with several industrial partners.