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.