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Terrence Collins - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Terrence Collins

Professor | Carnegie Mellon University


Terry Collins invented "TAML® Activators", the first small molecule mimics of any of the great families of oxidizing enzymes.


A champion of sustainability science, Terry Collins is the Teresa Heinz Professor of Green Chemistry and the Director of the Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Collins invented "TAML® Activators", the first, full-functional, small molecule mimics of any of the great families of oxidizing enzymes. In the process, one of the great challenges of reaction chemistry has been solved—easy deployment of the mimicked efficient catalytic cycles of oxidative metabolism. Today, NewTAMLs are the best performers.

Collins learned of the insidious health damage caused by anthropogenic chemical pollutants in his native New Zealand. He launched his academic career by creating an iterative catalyst design protocol to explore whether biomimetic processes for disinfecting water could be developed to replace chlorine and avoid chlorinated disinfection products. TAML and NewTAML activators are the principal fruits, greatly outperforming the enzymes while enabling applications exhibiting or promising high technical, cost, health, environmental and fairness performances. Collins framed the argument that high health, environmental and fairness performances define sustainable chemicals and need to be integrated with comparable weight to the technical and cost performances that typically define commercial viability.

For over two decades, Terry Collins has been perfecting what is the first university course in Green Chemistry—today the class is entitled “Chemistry and Sustainability”. He has delivered over 600 public lectures and is an author on over 200 publications, mostly in peer-reviewed journals.

Collins earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Auckland. He joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 1987. Among his honors are the 2018 Carnegie Science Center Award for the Environment, the 2010 Heinz Award for the Environment, the inaugural Charles E. Kaufman Award of the Pittsburgh Foundation, the 2007 Award of The New York Metropolitan Catalysis Society, the USEPA’s 1999 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, the Pittsburgh Award from the American Chemical Society, Japan’s Society of Pure and Applied Coordination Chemistry Award, and many others. Collins is a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient from the University of Auckland where he is an Honorary Professor. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (Hon), the ACS, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and he received a Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Chemistry and Sustainability

Oxidation Catalysis


Green Chemistry

Inorganic Chemistry

Media Appearances (5)

Your Contact Lenses May Be a Hidden Source of 'Forever Chemicals'

ScienceAlert  online


Terrence Collins, a chemist at Carnegie Mellon University, explains to Mamavation that fluoropolymers like PFAS are cheap and effective materials for manufacturers to use for contact lenses. But he is frustrated by the lack of federal requirements for chemical disclosures and testing.

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'Forever chemicals' found in drinking water across the US pose health risks even in small amounts, EPA says

Insider  online


The EPA advisory is nonbinding, but it represents an "epic" shift in regulation, Terrence Collins, director of the Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University, told Insider.

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Terry Collins: PFAS removal discovery not yet a ‘powerful solution’

Environmental Health News  online


Researchers at Northwestern University last week published a breakthrough paper in the journal Science touting a new way of destroying PFAS molecules – dubbed the “forever chemical” for its engineered longevity. Carnegie Mellon University chemist Terry Collins offers a counterpoint on the optimism.

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Sudoc Named Startup To Watch by Chemical & Engineering News

Carnegie Mellon University News  online


Sudoc, a startup co-founded by Carnegie Mellon University chemists Terrence J. Collins and Ryan C. Sullivan, has been named one of 10 startups to watch by Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN). Sudoc is developing and commercializing TAML catalysts, a bioinspired environmentally friendly molecule that outperforms toxic chemicals in a wide range of applications and can be used to remove pollutants from natural and built environments.

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Catalysts efficiently and rapidly remove BPA from water

ScienceDaily  online


Carnegie Mellon University chemist Terrence J. Collins has developed an approach that quickly and cheaply removes more than 99 percent of bisphenol A (BPA) from water. BPA, a ubiquitous and dangerous chemical used in the manufacturing of many plastics, is found in water sources around the world.

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Terrence Collins, Chemist who Detoxifies Hazardous Materials Using Green Chemistry - Heinz Awardee Terrence Collins, Heinz Awardee speech, 2010 Heinz Awards presentation, Folger Theatre



Industry Expertise (4)




Investment Banking

Accomplishments (5)

The Environment Award (professional)

2018 Carnegie Science Center

Fellow (professional)

2013 American Chemical Society

Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (professional)


Charles E. Kaufman Award of the Pittsburgh Foundation (professional)


Heinz Award for the Environment (professional)


Education (3)

The University of Auckland: B.Sc., Chemistry 1974

The University of Auckland: Ph.D., Chemistry 1978

The University of Auckland: M.Sc., Chemistry 1975

Affiliations (1)

  • Sudoc : Creator-founder & Board Member

Patents (1)

Far superior oxidation catalysts based on macrocyclic compounds



An especially robust compound and its derivative metal complexes that are approximately one hundred-fold superior in catalytic performance to the previously invented TAML analogs is provided having the formula:

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Articles (5)

Designing Materials for Aqueous Catalysis: Ionic Liquid Gel and Silica Sphere Entrapped Iron-TAML Catalysts for Oxidative Degradation of Dyes

Environmental Science & Technology

2020 Materials have been developed that encapsulate a homogeneous catalyst and enable it to operate as a heterogeneous catalyst in water. A hydrophobic ionic liquid within the material was used to dissolve Fe-TAML and keep it from leaching into the aqueous phase. One-pot processes were used to entrap Fe-TAML in basic ionic liquid gels, and ionic liquid gel spheres structured via a modified Stöber synthesis forming SiO2 particles of uniform size.

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Transformative Catalysis Purifies Municipal Wastewater of Micropollutants

ACS ES&T Water

2021 We describe the use of TAML/peroxide to reduce micropollutants (MPs) in Tucson, AZ, secondary municipal wastewater. The laboratory studies establish simple-to-apply MP abatements rivaling ozone in technical performance. The approach rests on the latest-generation TAML catalyst, 2, currently the highest-technical performance H2O2 activator across both chemistry and biology. Thirty-eight MPs were examined with five 2/H2O2 treatments (50 nM 2 with 22.4 ppm H2O2, 100 nM 2 with 11.2 ppm H2O2, 100 nM 2 with 22.4 ppm H2O2, 200 nM 2 with 11.2 ppm H2O2, and 200 nM 2 with 22.4 ppm H2O2) and four ozone treatments (2, 4, 6, and 8 ppm).

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Call to restrict neonicotinoids


2018 Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world. They are applied to a broad range of food, energy, and ornamental crops, and used in domestic pest control. Because they are neurotoxins, they are highly toxic to insects, a group of organisms that contains the majority of the described life on Earth, and which includes numerous species of vital importance to humans such as pollinators and predators of pests.

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Detoxification of oil refining effluents by oxidation of naphthenic acids using TAML catalysts

Science of The Total Environment

2021 The environmental problem stemming from toxic and recalcitrant naphthenic acids (NAs) present in effluents from the oil industry is well characterized. However, despite the numerous technologies evaluated for their destruction, their up-scaling potential remains low due to high implementation and running costs. Catalysts can help cutting costs by achieving more efficient reactions with shorter operating times and lower reagent requirements.

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Targeting of High-Valent Iron-TAML Activators at Hydrocarbons and Beyond

Chemical Reviews

2017 TAML activators of peroxides are iron(III) complexes. The ligation by four deprotonated amide nitrogens in macrocyclic motifs is the signature of TAMLs where the macrocyclic structures vary considerably. TAML activators are exceptional functional replicas of the peroxidases and cytochrome P450 oxidizing enzymes. In water, they catalyze peroxide oxidation of a broad spectrum of compounds, many of which are micropollutants, compounds that produce undesired effects at low concentrations—as with the enzymes, peroxide is typically activated with near-quantitative efficiency.

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