Mark Bussell , PhD


Research Interests

My research interests are in the areas of surface and materials chemistry, with an emphasis on the development of new heterogeneous catalysts for the production of clean and renewable fuels, and the selective hydrogenation of alkynes. Current projects are focused on the photothermal catalytic conversion of CO2, the hydroconversion of biomass-derived feedstocks to biofuels, and the selective hydrogenation of phenylacetylene to styrene. Catalyst systems currently under investigation include oxide-supported metal phosphides.

Educational & Professional Experience


  • B.A. Reed College, 1983
  • Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 1988
  • NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellow, Ecole Nationale Superieure de Chimie de Paris, 1988-89
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Washington, 1990

Sabbatical and Leave Positions

  • Guest Professor, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH-Zurich), 1997-1998
  • Visiting Professor, Tufts University (Dept. of Chemical Engineering), March-June 2005
  • Visiting Professor, University of British Columbia (Dept. of Chemical Engineering), January-June 2012
  • Director, Science Division, Yale-NUS College (Singapore), 2016-17
  • Fulbright Scholar, Institute of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Budapest, Hungary), August-December 2023

Current Position

  • Professor of Chemistry, WWU

Selected Awards & Honors

  • Fulbright Scholar Award, U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program, 2023-2024
  • Member, Washington State Academy of Sciences, elected in 2023
  • Cottrell IMPACT Award, Research Corporation for Science Advancement, 2023
  • ChemCUR Outstanding Mentorship Award, Council on Undergraduate Research, 2022
  • Arlan Norman Award for Excellence in Student Mentoring, Western Washington University, 2021
  • Snohomish PUD Professor of Energy Studies, Western Washington University, 2020
  • Member, Cottrell Scholar Program Committee, Research Corporation for Science Advancement, 2015-2020
  • Team Recognition Award (Institute for Energy Studies), Western Washington University, 2015-16
  • Cottrell Scholar (PUI Class of 1994), Research Corporation for Science Advancement, 2015
  • Member, Advisory Board, ACS – Petroleum Research Fund, 2012-2017
  • Phi Kappa Phi Lectureship, Western Washington University, October 2006
  • Member, Science Advisory Committee, Research Corporation, 2005-2011
  • Member, Editorial Board, Topics in Catalysis, January 2005-2009
  • Member, Editorial Board, Catalysis Letters, September 2004-2009
  • Camille & Henry Dreyfus Scholar/Fellow Award, November 2001
  • Paul J. Olscamp Outstanding Research Award, Western Washington University, June 2000
  • Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, May 1995
  • NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1988-1989
  • Elected to Sigma Xi, University of California, Berkeley, May 1988
  • Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Reed College, May 1983

Recent Publications

  • Hennig, H. K.; Schare, J. R.; Lynch, R. P.; Bullock, A.; Baldwin, M. S., Bussell, M. E., "Effect of Nickel Phosphide Phase on the Photocatalytic Hydrogenation of Carbon Dioxide", submitted for publication, February 2024.
  • Bowker, R. H.; Savithra, G. H. L.; Carrillo, B. A.; Hubach, K.; McDonald, T.; Brock, S. L.; Bussell, M. E., “Effect of Particle Size on the Sulfur Resistance of Nickel Phosphide Hydrodesulfurization Catalysts”, Journal of Catalysis 2023, 425, 70-79. (DOI: 10.1016/j.jcat.2023.06.007)
  • Topalian, P. J.; Carillo, B. A.; Cochran, P. M.; Takemura, M. F.; Bussell, M. E., “Synthesis and Hydrodesulfurization Properties of Silica-Supported Nickel-Ruthenium Phosphide Catalysts”, Journal of Catalysis 2021, 403, 173-180, (DOI: 10.1016/j.jcat.2021.02.006)
  • Miles, C. E.; Carlson, T. R; Morgan, B. J.; Topalian, P. J.; Schare, J. R.; Bussell, M. E., “Hydrodesulfurization Properties of Nickel Phosphide on Boron-treated Alumina Supports”, ChemCatChem 2020, 12, 4939-4950. (DOI: 10.1002/cctc.202000755)
  • Topalian, P. J.; Liyanage, D. R.; Danforth, S. J.; d’Aquino, A. I.; Brock, S. L.; Bussell, M. E. "Effect of Particle Size on the Deep HDS Properties of Ni2P Catalysts", Journal of Physical Chemistry C 2019, 123, 25701-25711. (DOI:10.1021/acs.jpcc.9b07034)
  • Bussell, M. E. “New Methods for the Preparation of Nanoscale Nickel Phosphide Catalysts for Heteroatom Removal Reactions”, RSC Reaction Chemistry and Engineering 2017, 2, 628-635. (DOI:10.1039/C7RE00098G)
  • Danforth, S. J.; Liyanage, D. R.; Hitihami-Mudiyanselage, A.; Ilic, B.; Brock, S. L.; Bussell, M. E. “Probing Hydrodesulfurization over Bimetallic Phosphides Using Monodisperse Ni2-xMxP Nanoparticles Encapsulated in Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles,” Surface Science 2016, 648, 126-135. (Special issue in honor of the 80th birthday of Professor Gabor A. Somorjai) (DOI: 10.1016/j.susc.2015.10.005 ).
  • d’Aquino, A. I.; Danforth, S. J.; Clinkingbeard, T. R.; Ilic, B.; Pullan, L; Reynolds, M. A.; Murray, B. D.; Bussell, M. E., “Highly-Active Nickel Phosphide Hydrotreating Catalysts Prepared In Situ Using Nickel Hypophosphite Precursors”, Journal of Catalysis 2016, 335, 204-214.
  • Liyanage, D. R.; Danforth, S. J.; Liu, Y.; Bussell, M. E.; Brock, S. L. “Simultaneous Control of Composition, Size and Morphology in Discrete Ni2-xCoxP Nanoparticles,” Chemistry of Materials 2015, 27, 4349-4357.