Roy Periana, PhD

Department of Chemistry
Florida Campus


Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Faculty, Graduate Program

Other Joint Appointments

Director, Scripps Energy and Materials Laboratories
Founder and Board Member, Hyconix Inc.

Research Focus

Design and Study of Molecular Catalysts for Small Molecule Conversion

CH4 (and other light alkanes in Natural Gas), N2, O2, H2O and CO2 are among the most abundant raw materials on Earth. Chemical reactions of these small molecules generate most of the world’s energy, emissions and materials. However, in spite of a century of research, current technologies still operate at higher costs, generate substantially more emissions and lead to greater dependence on petroleum than required. At the foundation of these inefficiencies is the high strength of the bonds in all of the small molecules.  In spite of intensive effort over more than 50 years, failure to develop chemistry to controllably make and break these bonds has led to the unfortunate assignment of these small molecule challenges as “Holy Grails” in chemistry.  The focus of our research is to overcome these challenges through the design of next generation catalysts for the direct, selective, conversion of these molecules.  One particular emphasis continues to be the design of systems that will enable the direct conversion of alkanes to fuels and chemicals at lower temperatures. This could replace or augment the use of petroleum with cleaner, more abundant Natural Gas as a transition to a cleaner future.  Our approach is based on the rational, de novo design of molecular (s-called homogeneous or single-site) catalysts through an iterative process involving conceptual design, computational study, synthesis, characterization and study of reaction chemistry and mechanisms. Our research interests include the design of catalysts for: CH hydroxylation; CH aminations, N2 fixation, O2 activation and CO2 reduction.


Ph.D. (Organic Chemistry), University of California, Berkeley, 1985
B.S. (Chemistry), University of Michigan, 1979

Professional Experience

2000-2007 Director, USC-Caltech-Chevron Consortium on New Catalysis Technology
2000-2007 Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry and Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute, University of Southern California
1994-2000 Co-Founder and Vice President of Research, Catalytica Advanced Technologies
1988-1994 Senior Research Fellow and Project Leader, Catalytica, Inc.
1985-1988 Research Specialist, Monsanto Company
1979-1981 Research Chemist, The Dow Chemical Company

Awards & Professional Activities

Co-Founder and Member of Board of Directors, Hyconix, Inc. Chicago, IL; Co-Founder and Member of Board of Directors, Qateomix, Inc. Covina, CA; Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellowship, 2007 Topics in Current Chemistry. Volume Editor: C-H Activation, 2005; Seminaire Hors-Ville en Chimie Inorganique, Switzerland, September, 2001; Co-Founder and Vice President, Catalytica Adv. Technologies Inc., Mountain View, CA; Chairman of National ACS Inorganic Symposium in 1999

Selected References

All Publications

Main group compounds selectively oxidize mixtures of methane, ethane, and propane to alcohol esters. Hashiguchi, Brian G.; Konnick, Michael M.; Bischof, Steven M.; Gustafson, Samantha J.; Devarajan, Deepa; Gunsalus, Niles; Ess, Daniel H.; Periana, Roy A.; Science, 2014, 343, 1232-1237

Catalytic, Oxidative Condensation of CH4 to CH3COOH in One Step via CH Activation. Periana, R. A.; Mironov, O.; Taube, D.; Bhalla, G.; Jones, CJ. Science, 2003, 301, 814

Designing Catalysts for Functionalization of Unactivated C–H Bonds Based on the CH Activation Reaction. Hashiguchi, Brian G.; Bischof, Steven M.; Konnick, Michael, M.; Periana, Roy A.; Acc. Chem. Res. 2012, 45, 885-898.

A Mercury-Catalyzed, High-Yield System for the Oxidation of Methane to Methanol. Periana, R. A.; Taube, D. J.; Evitt, E. R.; Loffler, D. G.; Wentrcek, P. R.; Voss, G.; Masuda, T. Science 1993, 259, 340.

Platinum Catalysts for the High-Yield Oxidation of Methane to a Methanol Derivative. Periana, R. A.; Taube, D. J.; Gamble, S.; Taube, H.; Satoh, T.; Fujii, H. Science, 1998, 280, 560


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