Research in the Kulik group

The Kulik group is focused on developing and applying accurate and efficient quantum mechanical methods to understand and design heterogeneous, molecular, and biological catalysts. A firm understanding of the fundamentals of catalysis is critical for tackling human health challenges and managing disease as well as addressing modern challenges in energy and efficient use of raw feedstocks. Through studying a wide range of catalysts - from enzymes to surface science - we aim to elucidate unifying principles that govern catalysis and provide a blueprint for catalyst design. 

Hydrogen bond design for ion separation

Selective ion separation is a major challenge with far-ranging impact from wastewater treatment to product separation in catalysis. Ferrocenium (Fc+)/ferrocene (Fc) polymeric electrode materials have recently been shown to selectively bind carboxylates over perchlorate through weak C-H...O hydrogen bonds that favor carboxylates over perchlorate. However, practical application of this technology in aqueous environments requires further selectivity enhancement.

Substrate positioning in COMT reactivity

Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) is a SAM- and Mg2+-dependent methyltransferase that regulates neurotransmitters through methylation. Simulations and experiments have identified divergent catecholamine substrate orientations in the COMT active site: molecular dynamics simulations have favored a monodentate coordination of catecholate substrates to the active site Mg2+, and crystal structures instead preserve bidentate coordination along with short (2.65 Å) methyl donor-acceptor distances. We carry out longer dynamics (up to 350 ns) to quantify interconversion between bidentate and monodentate binding poses.


About Us

The Kulik group focuses on the development and application of new electronic structure methods and atomistic simulations tools in the broad area of catalysis.

Our Interests

We are interested in transition metal chemistry, with applications from biological systems (i.e. enzymes) to nonbiological applications in surface science and molecular catalysis.

Our Focus

A key focus of our group is to understand mechanistic features of complex catalysts and to facilitate and develop tools for computationally driven design.

Contact Us

Questions or comments? Let us know! Contact Dr. Kulik: