Picture of Dr. James Sheehan

Assistant Professor

Chemical and Biological Engineering

3010 North Engineering Research Center
 (205) 348-6619
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  • B.S., Chemical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, 2014
  • Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, 2019


James D. Sheehan, PhD, joined the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering at the University of Alabama as an Assistant Professor in August 2021. Dr. Sheehan earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemical & Biological Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Dr. Sheehan pursued doctoral studies in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, where his doctoral research focused on experimental and kinetic modeling studies of thermochemical depolymerization of biopolymers and organic reactions of small biomolecules in sub- and supercritical water. After defending his dissertation, Dr. Sheehan joined the Catalysis Center of Energy Innovation at the University of Delaware as a Postdoctoral Research Associate and contributed to projects focusing catalytic depolymerization of lignocellulosic biomass and synthesis of lignin-based, water-soluble polymers.

The Sheehan Lab develops thermochemical and catalytic processes for valorizing lignocellulosic biomass and waste plastics into value-added materials and small molecules. Lab-scale reaction and separation processes are evaluated and characterized by in situ spectroscopy (e.g., IR, UV/vis), along with offline chromatography, microscopy, and computational modeling tools. The overarching research objective of the Sheehan Lab is developing novel and sustainable chemical processes that mitigate the use of toxic chemicals and promote process intensification by integrating reaction and separation unit operations.

Honors and Awards

  • Director, Forest Bioproducts Division, AIChE, 2023
  • ACS PRF Doctoral New Investigator 2023
  • Early Career Board (ECB) of ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering (2023-2024)

Areas of Research

Latest Publications

  • Ding, X; Sheehan, J.D.; Zhang, T.; Shen, Z.; Wang, Y.; Jiang, Z.; Fang, T. “Experimental-computational approach for elucidating the dissolution behavior of potassium phosphates in near- and supercritical water”. The Journal of Supercritical Fluids. 2022, 181, 105488. DOI: 10.1016/j.supflu.2021.105488
  • Kots, P.A.; Liu, S.; Vance, B.C.; Wang, C.; Sheehan, J.D.; Vlachos, D.G. “Propylene Plastic Waste Conversion to Lubricants over Ru/TiO2 Catalysts”. ACS Catalysis. 2021, 11, 8104-8115. DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.1c00874.
  • Ebikade, O.E.; Samulewicz, N.; Xuan S., Sheehan, J.D.; Wu, C.; Vlachos, D.G. “Reductive catalytic fractionation of agricultural residue and energy crop lignin and application of lignin oil in antimicrobials”. Green Chem. 2020, 22, 7435-7747. DOI: 10.1039/D0GC02781B
  • Sheehan, J.D.; Savage P.E. “Reaction pathways and kinetics of tryptophan in hot, compressed water”. Chem. Eng. J. 2020, 390, 124600. DOI: 10.1016/j.cej.2020.1246008.
  • Sheehan, J.D.; Abraham, A.; Savage P.E. “Reaction pathways and kinetics of tetra-alanine in hot, compressed liquid water” React. Chem. Eng. 2019, 4, 1237-1252. DOI: 10.1039/C9RE00023B