Marc-Olivier Coppens is the Ramsay Memorial Professor and Head of Department of Chemical Engineering at UCL. He is also Director of the UCL-based Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering, which won an EPSRC “Frontier Engineering” Award in 2013.
Professor Coppens holds MSc and PhD (1996) degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Ghent, Belgium, and was postdoctoral fellow at Yale and at UC Berkeley. He was at TU Delft from 1998-2006, where he became Professor in 2001 and Chair of Physical Chemistry and Molecular Thermodynamics, 2003–2006. After this, he joined Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA) as a Professor in Chemical and Biological Engineering, prior to coming to UCL in 2012.
Professor Coppens’s multidisciplinary research combines fundamental theoretical work with experiments to address challenging problems in the areas of resource efficiency (energy, water and materials), sustainable chemical production, and health. His unique approach revolves around what he has called Nature-Inspired Chemical Engineering (NICE), that is: to design and build efficient chemical reaction and separation systems, guided by the fundamental mechanism underlying desirable properties, like scalability and robustness, in biological systems, from molecular to macroscopic scales.
Awards for his pioneering research on NICE include Young Chemist and PIONIER Awards from the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO), an RSC Catalysis Science and Technology Lecture Award (Zürich, 2012), the PSRI Lectureship Award of the AIChE’s Particle Technology Forum (2017), and several invited named lectureships and visiting professorships in the USA, Norway, China and Turkey.
He became Fellow of both the IChemE (2014) and the AIChE (2016) and was elected Corresponding Member of the Saxon Academy of Sciences, Germany (2018). In 2017, he was also appointed Qiushi Chair Professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, a leading Chinese university.
A passionate educator, he won the Rensselaer School of Engineering Innovation in Teaching Award in 2012, and he has developed a new course on Nature Inspired Chemical Engineering, which he currently teaches to senior undergraduate and MSc students at UCL.
He is Editor-in-Chief of Chemical & Engineering Processing: Process Intensification, and serves on the Advisory Board of Chemical Engineering Science, and the Editorial Boards of Powder Technology, Diffusion Fundamentals and the EMS Journal of Fractal Geometry. He also serves on the Advisory Boards of the Chemical Engineering Department at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Universidad de los Andes, Colombia.