José L. Contreras-Mora is from Arecibo, Puerto Rico. In 2013, he received his B.S in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. During his undergraduate years, he worked in the synthesis and characterization of Fe3O4/ZnO and Fe3O4/ZnMnS core-shell heterostructured nanoparticles and optimized this synthesis by choosing NaOH as a solvent. Another project that he worked on involved the kinetics and catalysis area under the supervision of Dr. Nelson Cardona. The goal was to make 100% conversion of cellulose into sorbitol to create fuel, by changing variables such as temperature and the type of catalysis. Through this research, he learned to use the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) for the characterization of samples. He also worked as a COOP with Abbott from spring to summer of 2011. Here he developed cleaning processes and executed the cleaning validation activities for a new product that was under development.
After graduating in 2013, he enrolled as a PhD student at the University of South Carolina, Department of Chemical Engineering and joined Dr.Williams’ research group to focus further on the catalysis area. The graduate research explores the catalytic chemistry of hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of carboxylic acids over supported metal catalysts. This process results in the production of liquids with high energy density that are similar to those of conventional fossil fuels.