Hongcai Joe Zhou

Welch Chair in Chemistry
Texas A&M University

Joe Zhou is a leading researcher exploring metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs, a field growing exponentially in the last two decades. MOFs’ value lies in their ultrahigh porosity, large internal surface area and the extraordinary variability of the structures’ organic and inorganic components. Potential applications are as diverse as gas storage and separation, fuel cells and solar harvesting to thin-film devices, biomedical imaging and cancer treatment.

Dr. Zhou has been instrumental in developing a toolkit that allows scientists to tailor MOFs for specific purposes by controlling their porosity and function. He is a leader in the application of MOFs for gas storage and he has been active in biomaterials, including developing a nano-platform to treat cancer. Recently, he formed a start-up company to commercialize framework materials for use in clean energy, particularly methane storage and carbon capture.

 “Much of this work has been made possible by Welch funding,” Dr. Zhou says. “It’s nice to go back to Mr. Welch’s energy roots – repaying him in some small part for his visionary support of basic research in chemistry.”

After earning a Ph.D. at Texas A&M and a postdoc at Harvard, Dr. Zhou started his academic career at Miami University before moving back to A&M in 2008. He was named to the Welch chair in 2015.