UCSB Engineering

Eric McFarland


Chemical Engineering

Eric McFarland


Deparment of Chemical Engineering
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106

tel: (805) 893-4343

Personal web site

Research Description

McFarland’s research activities are focused on coupling fundamental processes at surfaces with novel material systems to enable economically and environmentally sustainable production of chemicals and power in real industrial processes. In particular, his group is working on use of new catalysts and materials for decarbonizing fossil fuels and producing chemicals without carbon dioxide. His group is also investigating novel nuclear reactor designs to reduce cost and increase safety and allow the opportunity for coupling chemical production with power production. McFarland teams with colleagues using state-of-the-art theoretical methods to guide and interpret experimental work using advanced theory and to develop conceptual process models to evaluate the technoeconomic potential of new processes making use of the chemistry.


Eric McFarland studied Nuclear Engineering and received B.S. and M.S. degrees from U.C. Berkeley, and his Ph.D. from MIT. He also studied medicine and received his M.D. from Harvard and completed post-graduate training in general surgery. McFarland joined the Nuclear Engineering faculty at MIT where his research moved from nuclear science to use of nuclear phenomena for non-destructive materials and measurement of chemical reaction kinetics and chemical analysis. In 1991 he moved to the faculty of the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Department. McFarland has always worked closely with industry on problems related to energy and chemical production and he has held management positions in several companies related to his University research. During several leaves of absence, he has given service to industry including as a director of Symyx Technologies and as CEO of Gas Reaction Technologies. McFarland recently returned to UCSB from a two-year position as the founding Director of the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation and Dow Chemical Chair of Chemical Engineering at the University of Queensland, Australia.


  • Dow Chemical Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Queensland, 2013-2015
  • Am. Nuc. Soc. Special Award for Outstanding Advances in Nuc. Tech., 1992
  • NSF Presidential Young Investigator, 1990-1995
  • Edgerton Assistant Professorship, 1989-1991
  • NIH Graduate Fellowship, 1981-1982
  • University of California Regent's Fellowship, 1980-1981
  • graduated Summa Cum Laude, 1980

Selected Publications

See complete list of publications