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Staff information


John Roberts

Catalysis Science
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
PO Box 999
MSIN: K2-57
Richland, WA 99352

Research Interests

  • Electrocatalysis
  • Redox-induced modulation of bond energies and reactivities
  • Catalytic activation of small molecules and stable substrates
  • Post-petroleum feedstocks
  • Integration of solid-state and solution catalysis

Education and Credentials

  • Ph.D., Inorganic Chemistry, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 2006
  • B.S., Mathematics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 2001.

Affiliations and Professional Service

Awards and Recognitions

  • Northwestern University Academy Fellowship 2002-2004

PNNL Publications


  • Fang M, MH Engelhard, Z Zhu, ML Helm, and JA Roberts. 2014. "Electrodeposition From Acidic Solutions of Nickel Bis(benzenedithiolate) Produces a Hydrogen-Evolving Ni-S Film on Glassy Carbon." ACS Catalysis 4(1):90-98.  doi:10.1021/cs400675u
  • Lense SJ, A Dutta, JA Roberts, and WJ Shaw. 2014. "A Proton Channel Allows a Hydrogen Oxidation Catalyst to Operate at a Moderate Overpotential with Water Acting as a Base." Chemical Communications 50(7):792-795.  doi:10.1039/C3CC46829A
  • Reback ML, GW Buchko, BL Kier, B Ginovska-Pangovska, Y Xiong, S Lense, J Hou, JA Roberts, CM Sorensen, S Raugei, TC Squier, and WJ Shaw. 2014. "Enzyme Design From the Bottom Up: An Active Nickel Electrocatalyst with a Structured Peptide Outer Coordination Sphere." Chemistry - A European Journal 20(6):1510-1514.  doi:10.1002/chem.201303976


  • Das AK, MH Engelhard, F Liu, RM Bullock, and JA Roberts. 2013. "The Electrode as Organolithium Reagent: Catalyst-Free Covalent Attachment of Electrochemically Active Species to an Azide-Terminated Glassy Carbon Electrode Surface." Inorganic Chemistry 52(23):13674-13684.  doi:10.1021/ic402247n
  • Roberts JA, and RM Bullock. 2013. "Direct Determination of Equilibrium Potentials for Hydrogen Oxidation/Production by Open Circuit Potential Measurements in Acetonitrile." Inorganic Chemistry 52(7):3825-3835.  doi:10.1021/ic302461q
  • Dutta A, S Lense, J Hou, MH Engelhard, JA Roberts, and WJ Shaw. 2013. "Minimal Proton Channel Enables H2 Oxidation and Production with a Water-Soluble Nickel-Based Catalyst." Journal of the American Chemical Society 135(49):18490-18496.  doi:10.1021/ja407826d
  • Hoffert WA, JA Roberts, RM Bullock, and ML Helm. 2013. "Production of H2 at Fast Rates Using a Nickel Electrocatalyst in Water/Acetonitrile Solutions." Chemical Communications 49(71):7767-7769.  doi:10.1039/c3cc43203c
  • Reback ML, B Ginovska-Pangovska, MH Ho, A Jain, TC Squier, S Raugei, JA Roberts, and WJ Shaw. 2013. "The Role of a Dipeptide Outer-Coordination Sphere on H2 -Production Catalysts: Influence on Catalytic Rates and Electron Transfer." Chemistry - A European Journal 19(6):1928-1941.  doi:10.1002/chem.201202849
  • Wiedner ES, JA Roberts, WG Dougherty, WS Kassel, DL DuBois, and RM Bullock. 2013. "Synthesis and Electrochemical Studies of Cobalt(III) Monohydride Complexes Containing Pendant Amines." Inorganic Chemistry 52(17):9975-9988.  doi:10.1021/ic401232g


  • Lense S, MH Ho, S Chen, A Jain, S Raugei, JC Linehan, JA Roberts, AM Appel, and WJ Shaw. 2012. "Incorporating Amino Acid Esters into Catalysts for Hydrogen Oxidation: Steric and Electronic Effects and the Role of Water as a Base." Organometallics 31(19):6719-6731.  doi:10.1021/om300409y


  • Bayram E, JC Linehan, JL Fulton, JA Roberts, N Szymczak, TD Smurthwaite, S Ozkar, M Balasubramanian, and RG Finke. 2011. "Is It Homogeneous or Heterogeneous Catalysis Derived from [RhCp*Cl2]2? In Operando-XAFS, Kinetic and Crucial Kinetic Poisoning Evidence for Subnanometer Rh4 Cluster-Based Benzene Hydrogenation Catalysis." Journal of the American Chemical Society 133(46):18889-18902.  doi:10.1021/ja2073438
  • Galan BR, J Schoffel, JC Linehan, C Seu, AM Appel, JA Roberts, ML Helm, UJ Kilgore, JY Yang, DL DuBois, and C Kubiak. 2011. "Electrocatalytic Oxidation of Formate by [Ni(PR2NR`2)2(CH3CN)]2+ Complexes." Journal of the American Chemical Society 113(35):12767-12779.  doi:10.1021/ja204489e
  • Kilgore UJ, JA Roberts, DH Pool, AM Appel, MP Stewart, II, M Rakowski DuBois, WG Dougherty, WS Kassel, RM Bullock, and DL DuBois. 2011. "[Ni(PPh2NC6H4X2)2]2+ Complexes as Electrocatalysts for H2 Production: Effect of Substituents, Acids, and Water on Catalytic Rates." Journal of the American Chemical Society 133(15):5861-5872.  doi:10.1021/ja109755f
  • Roberts JA, DL DuBois, and RM Bullock. 2011. "Experimental and Digital Modeling Studies of the Electrochemical Oxidation of the Metal Anion [CpW(CO)2(IMes)]- and the 17-Electron Metal Radical CpW(CO)2(IMes)·. Kinetics and Thermodynamics of Capture and Release of MeCN by a Metal Radical and a Metal Cation." Organometallics 30(17):4555-4563.  doi:10.1021/om2002816
  • Roberts JA, AM Appel, DL DuBois, and RM Bullock. 2011. "Comprehensive Thermochemistry of W-H Bonding in the Metal Hydrides CpW(CO)2(IMes)H, [CpW(CO)2(IMes)H]·+, and [CpW(CO)2(IMes)(H)2]+. Influence of an N-Heterocyclic Carbene Ligand on Metal Hydride Bond Energies." Journal of the American Chemical Society 133(37):14604-14613.  doi:10.1021/ja202830w
  • Roberts JA, JA Franz, EF van der Eide, ED Walter, JL Petersen, DL DuBois, and RM Bullock. 2011. "Comproportionation of Cationic and Anionic Tungsten Complexes Having an N-Heterocyclic Carbene Ligand to Give the Isolable 17-Electron Tungsten Radical, CpW(CO)2(IMes)· ." Journal of the American Chemical Society 133(37):14593-14603.  doi:10.1021/ja202754e

Selected Publications


  • Roberts, John A. S.; Chen, Ming-Chou; Seyam, Afif M.; Li, Liting; Zuccaccia, Cristiano; Stahl, Nicholas G.; Marks, Tobin. J. Diverse Stereocontrol Effects Induced by Weakly Coordinating Anions.  Mono- and Polynuclear Halo-Perfluoroarylmetallates as Cocatalysts for Stereospecific Olefin Polymerization at Archetypal Cs- and C1-Symmetrical Catalysts, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2007, 129(42), 12713-12733


  • Chen, Ming-Chou; Roberts, John A. S.; Marks, Tobin J. Diversity in weakly coordinating anions. Mono‑ and polynuclear halo‑perfluoroarylmetallates as cocatalysts for stereospecific olefin polymerization: synthesis, structure, and reactivity. Organometallics, 2006, 25(11), 2833-2850.
  • Schneider, Sven; Roberts, John A. S.; Salata, Michael R.; Marks, Tobin J. Mixed diketonate thiolate copper(I) precursors for materials synthesis: control of Cu2S-forming thermolysis pathways by manipulating Lewis acid and base cluster building blocks. Angew. Chem., Int. Ed., 2006, 45(11), 1733-1736. 


  • Chen, Ming-Chou; Roberts, John A. S.; Marks, Tobin J. Marked counteranion effects on single-site olefin polymerization processes: Correlations of ion-pair structure and dynamics with polymerization activity, chain transfer, and syndioselectivity. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2004, 126(14), 4605-4625.
  • Chen, Ming-Chou; Roberts, John A. S.; Marks, Tobin J. New mononuclear and polynuclear perfluoroarylmetallate cocatalysts for stereospecific olefin polymerization. Organometallics, 2004, 23(5), 932-935.
  • Saulys, Dovas A.; Kuech, Thomas F.; Roberts, John A. A safe alternative to the use of silane, WARF (Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation) Disclosure P03104US. Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
  • Zuccaccia, Cristiano; Stahl, Nicholas G.; Macchioni, Alceo; Chen, Ming-Chou; Roberts, John A. S.; Marks, Tobin J. NOE and PGSE NMR spectroscopic studies of solution structure and aggregation in metallocenium ion-pairs. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2004, 126(5), 1448-1464.


  • Guzei, Ilia A.; Roberts, John; Saulys, Dovas A. Pseudosymmetry in pyridinium tetrachloro(oxo)pyridineniobate(V) pyridine solvate. Acta Crystallogr., Sect. C: Cryst. Struct. Commun. 2002, C58(3), m141-m143.

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