Nathaniel (Nate) Szymczak was born in Wollongong, Australia. In 2002 he received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry (with a specialization in environmental chemistry) from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where he was fortunate to work on several undergraduate research projects, each focused on a unique approach to environmentally-motivated chemistry. His research experience culminated in the laboratories of Professor Thomas Rauchfuss where he worked on synthetic bioinorganic chemistry. In the fall of 2002, Nate began doctoral studies under the direction of David Tyler at the University of Oregon. His graduate research focused on water-soluble transition metal dihydrogen and dinitrogen complexes as well as hydrogen-bonding interactions of a coordinated H2 ligand. As part of an NSF-IGERT graduate fellowship, he participated in a brief internship at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and worked with Dr. John Linehan and Dr. Tom Autrey to uncover the mechanism of hydrogen release from hydrogen storage materials, as well as to elucidate the active catalyst structure using Operando XAS methods.
He was awarded a Ph.D. in 2007, and following doctoral studies, he pursued postdoctoral research with Professor Jonas Peters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology. His work focused on the development of bimetallic macrocyclic coordination complexes for electrocatalytic proton reduction and other multi-electron transformations, as well as the development of reliable methods to electrochemically investigate homogeneous systems at elevated pressures. In 2010, Nate joined the faculty at the University of Michigan where his research program focuses primarily on synthetic transition-metal based inorganic chemistry targeted toward the development of new catalytic transformations for energy recycling and delivery with minimal energy input.