Photo of Prof Kevin C. Leonard

Kevin C. Leonard

Associate Professor
School of Engineering
Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis

Professional Biography

Kevin C. Leonard is an Associate Professor in the department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Kansas and member of the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis. He has professional affiliations with the American Chemical Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and Materials Research Society. Since joining KU in August 2013, Professor Leonard has led extensive research in the field of electrochemistry. His objective is to provide sustainable improvements and new solutions for fuel and chemical production. Current lab topics include electrocatalysis, scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM), data harnessing & machine learning, and CO2 expanded electrolytes (CXE). He has taught multiple courses for undergraduates and graduates. In the undergraduate curriculum he has taught Kinetics & Reactor Design and Process Dynamics & Controls. The graduate courses he has taught include Kinetics and Catalysis, Methods of CPE Calculations, and an elective Data Science in Catalysis.

Professor Leonard has been recognized for achievements in both research and teaching through the following awards:

  • John E. Sharp and Winifred E. Sharp Teaching Professorship (2020)
  • KU Miller Scholar Award (2019)
  • Raymond Oenbring Teaching Award for Excellence in Chemical Engineering Education (2019 & 2015)
  • ACS Industrial & Chemistry Engineering Research Influential Researcher (2018)
  • Army Research Office Young Investigator Award (2017)
  • KU Miller Distinguished Service Award for Research (2017)
  • Don Green Faculty Fellowship for Teaching Excellence (2017)
  • Kansas EPSCoR Education and Diversity Award (2014)

Prior to pursuing his graduate degree, Professor Leonard spent a year in industry working at National Instruments in the Engineering Leadership Program. While earning his PhD at the University of Wisconsin, he founded a startup company to address the degradation in performance of lithium ion batteries. Now at KU, he is advisor and partner to former graduate student Joseph Barforoush in another startup company Avium, LLC. Avium aims to develop a Dual Element Matrix (DEM) Water Electrolyzer to produce hydrogen onsite at fueling stations.

Currently, Professor Leonard is lead PI on a $3 million NRT grant. The NRT creates a comprehensive traineeship for STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary convergent research areas. It allows for students to develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies to pursue a wider range of STEM careers. Specifically, this NRT: Internet of Catalysis, seeks to intersect chemical engineering, computer science and chemistry. The students are working together to develop a data base from published research which through applying machine learning algorithms has the potential to generate novel catalyst combinations that could greatly advance the field of catalysis. Explore our NRT program website to learn more information about the program and how to get involved.

Personal Biography

Born and raised in Racine, Wisconsin, Kevin attended the nearby University of Wisconsin. It was there, in the undergraduate course material and energy balances, that he teamed up with fellow classmate Wendy on a project. They partnered in every course that followed and are now partnered in life with two daughters together. Kevin's main passion is birding with his family. It is this time in and appreciation for nature that motivates his work on renewable chemistry. He also enjoys hiking and playing tennis for fun. Kevin is a Milwaukee Brewers fan and roots simultaneously for the Wisconsin Badgers and Kansas Jayhawks.


  • Post Doc: University of Texas at Austin, Center for Electrochemistry, Advisor: Prof Allen J. Bard, 2011-2013

  • PhD: University of Wisconsin, Materials Science, Advisor: Prof Marc. A. Anderson, 2011

  • MS: University of Wisconsin, Materials Science, 2011

  • BS: University of Wisconsin, Chemical Engineering & Applied Mathematics, 2003

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