Welcome to the home page of the Blakemore Group! We are a research group in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kansas.

Our aim is to improve the sustainable production of chemicals, fuels, and energy using the tools of contemporary inorganic chemistry, catalysis, and surface chemistry. Design and synthesis of organic and inorganic compounds are major components of this work, along with spectroscopic and electrochemical investigations. Our current projects are focused in three areas:

Molecular catalysis. We are working to develop an understanding of the stability, activity, and mechanism of action of several classes of complexes that are molecular catalysts for fuel production from H2O and/or CO2. These compounds include [Cp*]/[Cp*H] complexes that display interesting modes of metal-ligand cooperation, as well as new families of heterobimetallic complexes.

Structure-function studies of chemically modified electrodes. We are studying several classes of metal complexes to understand the role of molecular structure in the stability and activity of immobilized molecular species. Our goal is to improve the stability of coordination complexes on electrode surfaces, so that chemically-modified electrodes can have expanded applications in electrocatalysis and lanthanide/actinide separations science.

New media for carbon dioxide conversion. With the support of the US National Science Foundation (NSF award CBET-1605524), we are developing new media for carbon dioxide conversion to more useful chemicals. We are specifically targeting improvement of catalytic turnover to industrially relevant rates. This work is done in collaboration with Prof. Kevin Leonard and Bala Subramaniam.

We are also leading a community outreach effort aimed at improving science literacy among young people and broadening participation in science through mentoring. Our 2016-2017 partner in this effort was Emporia Middle School, and our partner in 2017-2018 is Eudora Middle School. Our group members visit our partner schools and mentor students that are engaged in inquiry-driven projects based on chemistry, energy, and sustainability themes.

In Summer 2018, the Blakemore Lab will be moving to KU's new Integrated Science Building. A time lapse video shows construction of our new digs.


We need the kind of courage that can withstand the subtle corruption of the cynics, so that
we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future.
It has always been easy to hate and destroy, but to build and to cherish is [the real challenge].
–Elizabeth R.

Recent News

27 April 2018 – Congratulations to our postdoc Dr. Davide Lionetti who has been named the recipient of a 2018 Sustainability Leadership Award at KU. Davide was recognized for his outstanding scholarship that is contributing to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and his mentoring of students in lab techniques, presentation skills, and understanding of chemistry. Congratulations on this most deserved honor, Davide!

18 April 2018 – James presents a public outreach talk on "Artificial Photosynthesis" at Free State Brewery as part of their "Science On Tap" series. A lively crowd full of chemists and non-chemists alike was there to enjoy some sustainability science in an informal setting. Thanks to Jen Humphrey for the opportunity to present in this exciting forum!

28 March 2018 – James serves as a discussion panelist during the symposium "Big Botany" at the KU Spencer Museum of Art. The symposium, timed with the opening of the Big Botany art exhibition and featured by the Washington Post, was themed on the critical role plants play on earth. James spoke about our group's work in artificial photosynthesis, inspired by plants. Other panelists included artists Ackroyd and Harvey (based in the UK) and Rohini Devasher (based in Delhi, India). Thanks to Senior Curator Steve Goddard for the invitation to join this important dialogue!

Funding Sources

Our work is supported by the US National Science Foundation and the University of Kansas: