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Zoha Hasnain Syed

Visiting Student - Graduate

Zoha Syed is a visiting graduate student in the catalysis science program at Argonne National Laboratory. Her research interests include surface organometallic chemistry and the application of Metal–Organic Frameworks (MOFs) in heterogeneous catalysis.


Zoha Syed graduated from the University of Washington, Seattle (UW) in 2017 with a BS in Chemistry and a BA in Biochemistry. While at UW, she did her undergraduate research with Karen I. Goldberg. Her work focused on developing C–H functionalization reactions with novel pincer-ligated iridium catalysts, as part of the Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis (CENTC), which was a National Science Foundation (NSF) Phase II Center for Chemical Innovation (CCI). After graduating, Zoha was a postbaccalaureate researcher from 2017 to 2018 in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) Program in the catalysis science program at Argonne National Laboratory. There, she studied single-site supported organometallic complexes on metal oxides as heterogeneous catalysts. At the end of 2018, she began her PhD in Inorganic Chemistry at Northwestern University as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, co-advised by Omar K. Farha and Massimiliano Delferro. She is a researcher in the Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center (ICDC), an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Research Interests

Zoha is investigating Metal–Organic Frameworks (MOFs) as design elements for supported organometallic catalysis. More specifically, she is studying MOFs as structurally well-defined catalyst supports for tuning the stereoelectronic properties of chemisorbed transition metals. The generated single-site catalysts may then be used for a variety of catalytic reactions for activation of strong bonds. Her work is at the interface of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, involving mechanistic investigation, spectroscopic characterization, as well as synthesis and optimization.


  • BS, Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, 2013-2017
  • BA, Biochemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, 2013-2017
  • PhD, Inorganic Chemistry, Northwestern University, 2018 - Present

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowship Award Semifinalist, 2018
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, 2018
  • U.S. Department of Energy Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) Program, 2017 and 2018
  • Washington Research Foundation Fellowship, 2016
  • American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Inorganic Chemistry (DIC) Award for Undergraduate Research Honorable Mention, 2016

Recent Publications

  • Yang, Y.; Zhang, X.; Kanchanakungwankul, S.; Lu, Z.; Noh, H.; Syed, Z.H.; Farha, O.K.; Truhlar, D.G.; Hupp, J.T., Unexpected Spontaneous” Evolution of Catalytic, MOF-Supported Single Cu(II) Cations to Catalytic, MOF-Supported Cu(0) Nanoparticles, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2020, Articles ASAP.

  • Hicks, K.E.; Rosen, A.S.; Syed, Z.H.; Snurr, R.Q.; Farha, O.K.; Notestein, J.M., Zr6O8 Node-Catalyzed Butene Hydrogenation and Isomerization in the Metal–Organic Framework NU-1000ACS Catal., 2020, 10, 1495914970.

  • Syed, Z.H.; Sha, F.; Zhang, X.; Kaphan, D.M.; Delferro, M.; Farha, O.K., Metal–Organic Framework Nodes as a Supporting Platform for Tailoring the Activity of Metal Catalysts, ACS Catal., 2020, 10, 1155611566.

  • Syed, Z.H.; Chen, Z.; Idrees, K.B.; Goetjen, T.A.; Wegener, E.C.; Zhang, X.; Chapman, K.W.; Kaphan, D.M.; Delferro, M.; Farha, O.K., Mechanistic Insights into C‒H Borylation of Arenes with Organoiridium Catalysts Embedded in a Microporous Metal-Organic Framework, Organometallics, 2020, 39, 11231133. (Invited to Special Issue Organometallic Chemistry at Various Length Scales”)

  • Noh, H.; Yang, Y.; Zhang, X.; Goetjen, T.A.; Syed, Z.H.; Lu, Z.; Ahn, S.; Farha, O.K.; Hupp, J.T., Single‐Site, Single‐Metal‐Atom, Heterogeneous Electrocatalyst: Metal−Organic‐Framework Supported Molybdenum Sulfide for Redox Mediator‐Assisted Hydrogen Evolution Reaction, ChemElectroChem, 2020, 7, 509516.

  • Chen, Z.; Ma, K.; Mahle, J.J.; Wang, H.; Syed, Z.H.; Atilgan, A.; Chen, Y.; Xin, J.H.; Islamoglu, T.; Peterson, G.W.; Farha, O.K., Integration of Metal-Organic Frameworks on Protective Layers for Destruction of Nerve Agents under Relevant Conditions, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2019, 141, 2001620021(Featured in C&EN, Northwestern Now, Physics World, Wired, Futurism, and Army Times)​​​​​​​

  • Moribe, S.; Chen, Z.; Alayoglu, S.; Syed, Z.H.; Islamoglu, T.; Farha, O.K., Ammonia Capture within Isoreticular Metal-Organic Frameworks with Rod Secondary Building Units, ACS Materials Lett., 2019, 1, 476480.

  • Syed, Z.H.; Kaphan, D.M.; Perras, F.A.; Pruski, M.; Ferrandon, M.S.; Wegener, E.C.; Celik, G.; Wen, J.; Liu, C.; Dogan, F.; Goldberg, K.I.; Delferro, M., Electrophilic Organoiridium(III) Pincer Complexes on Sulfated Zirconia for Hydrocarbon Activation and Functionalization, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2019, 141, 63256337.