Eric McFarland

Chemical Engineering
mcfar [at] engineering [dot] ucsb [dot] edu

Institute Role
Member of Production & Storage Solutions Group

Role in Affiliated Centers
Member of the Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials

Eric McFarland has broad-ranging research interests with direct links to industrial problems. His research activities are focused on coupling fundamental processes at surfaces with novel material systems for the production of energy. In particular, fundamental surface chemical-electrical phenomena related to catalysis and photoelectrocatalysis, and photovoltaic and chemo-electronic devices are under investigation. Together with his students and researchers, McFarland develops and uses automated, high-throughput, synthesis and screening systems to couple traditional chemical approaches to combinatorial methods for new material and material system discovery. Investigations of supported metal nanoclusters for gas phase and electrochemical reactions are designed to improve our understanding of heterogeneous catalysts used in energy producing reactions. Renewable production of hydrocarbon and hydrogen fuel production is a specific target, however, results have also been applicable to hydrogen and methanol fuel cells catalysts.

After his undergraduate and master’s studies at UC Berkeley, Eric McFarland moved to M.I.T. where he completed his Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering investigating the measurement of complex reaction kinetics with nuclear magnetic resonance. While a graduate student, McFarland was a member of a team at Field Effects Inc. that designed and built the first permanent ring magnet based magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system. He received an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and, after post-graduate training in general surgery, worked part-time in the Emergency Medicine. He joined the Department of Nuclear Engineering at MIT and then later moved to UC Santa Barbara where he is currently a Professor of Chemical Engineering.  McFarland has published over 130 papers and is the inventor on over 25 patents. In 1996, during a leave of absence from the University, McFarland was a founding technical Director of Symyx Technologies, a technology company which developed novel systems and methods for new materials discovery. He was a part of the core management team as the company grew from 3 employees to over 150 and eventually had a successful public offering. He has been on the Board of Directors of several chemical and technology companies and has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of GRT Inc., a start-up company developing a new process for the production of liquid fuels and chemicals from natural gas.

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