Susannah Scott was born in Japan, and grew up in England, South Africa, and Canada. She earned her B.Sc. from the University of Alberta (Canada) and her Ph.D. from Iowa State University, for a thesis on the activation of O2 and transition metal-catalyzed oxidation mechanisms directed by Jim Espenson. She was a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow with Jean-Marie Basset at the Institut de recherches sur la catalyse (CNRS) in Lyon, France, before joining the faculty of the University of Ottawa (Canada) where she was named a Canada Research Chair. In 2003, she moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she currently holds the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Chair in Sustainable Catalysis. She is jointly appointed as a Distinguished Professor in both the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry & Biochemistry. She is an Associate Editor for ACS Catalysis, a member of the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science, and a member of Scientific Advisory Boards at the Fritz Haber Institute, SUNCAT, SSRL, NREL, Ames Laboratory, JBEI, and PNNL.
Her research interests include the design of heterogeneous catalysts with well-defined active sites for the efficient conversion of conventional and emerging feedstocks, as well as environmental catalysts to promote air and water quality. She develops new kinetic and spectroscopic methods to probe reaction mechanisms. In 2014, she founded the Mellichamp Academic Initiative in Sustainable Manufacturing and Product Design at UC Santa Barbara, where she now leads an interdisciplinary program in research and education involving about 30 faculty from chemistry, chemical engineering, materials, environmental science, industrial ecology, technology management, political science, economics, and science communication. Recently, she delivered the Vladimir N. Ipatieff Lecture at Northwestern University (2016), the Grace Hopper Distinguished Lecture in Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania (2017), the Kurt Wohl Memorial Lecture at the University of Delaware (2019), the Boulder Scientific Distinguished Lecture at Colorado State University (2019), and the Eastman Lectures in Catalysis at UC Berkeley (2019).