Gwendolyn Bailey joins Department of Chemistry

In Fall 2021, the Department of Chemistry will welcome Gwen Bailey as an Assistant Professor. Bailey joins the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities following a postdoctoral appointment at Caltech. She was awarded a Ph.D. in 2018 for work with Deryn Fogg at the University of Ottawa in Canada.

Bailey’s Ph.D. studies uncovered important catalyst decomposition pathways in olefin metathesis, a Nobel-Prize-winning technology with tremendous potential for “greening” the chemical sciences. Her doctoral thesis was recognized with multiple awards: the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal, the Royal Society of Canada’s Alice Wilson Award, the ACS Young Investigator Award (from the Division of Inorganic Chemistry), and the Canadian Society for Chemistry’s Award for Graduate Work in Inorganic Chemistry. Her postdoctoral work focused on fundamental aspects of sustainable fuel production. Her work on the synthesis and study of rare and reactive bridging carbide and carbyne complexes, potential intermediates for the storage of renewable energy in chemical bonds, was supported by NSERC of Canada and by the Resnick Sustainability Institute. 

At UMN, Bailey will apply inorganic and catalysis science to some of the most pressing sustainability challenges of our day. Her research will focus on new classes of catalysts that leverage complex multimetallic and highly reactive architectures towards enhanced reactivity and robustness. Synthetic, structural, mechanistic, and reactivity studies will be pursued using a range of techniques, including spectroscopy, x-ray crystallography, and rigorous anaerobic techniques for the manipulation of air-sensitive compounds. Modern tools will be leveraged and developed from other areas to impact inorganic synthesis and catalyst development, leading to accelerated discovery and expanded innovation.

Since becoming a teaching assistant at the University of Ottawa, Bailey has demonstrated a passion for teaching. Recognized with departmental, then faculty Teaching Excellence awards in 2014 and 2016, Gwen has actively sought training in evidence-based methods for effective teaching in STEM and for fostering inclusiveness and equity in diverse classrooms. She also spearheaded chemical education research to develop and integrate new tools for 3D chemical visualization in the undergraduate chemistry classroom, in collaboration with instructors at Pasadena City College and College of the Rockies in Canada.

Beyond science, Bailey enjoys bicycling and travelling with her friends and family, and spending time with her niece and nephew. She has participated in four summer tours spanning three continents (Europe, Asia, and South America), including eight weeks in Indonesia as a child. Thanks to a gap year in Germany and French immersion studies in Canada, she is fluent in German and French, and also has a working knowledge of Spanish. In her spare time, she enjoys reading non-fiction and spending time in the great outdoors.

At UMN, Gwen is excited at the prospect of many new experiences, not least reigniting her love for Nordic skiing and learning how to bike-commute in all seasons. She looks forward to new friendships and collaborations, and integrating into the welcoming culture of the Midwest.