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ChE News - 2016

Also see Engineering School News for related U.Va. engineering news.




The University of Virginia recently has been ranked as one of the 25 Best Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering Programs by College Choice. The College Choice ranking scores programs based on school and department reputations as well as the school's return on investment. The U.Va. B.S. chemical engineering degree was ranked #14 nationally.







U.Va. Chemical Engineering 4th year students Richard Young (left) and Drew Biedermann (right) accepted awards on Sunday, Nov. 13 at the AIChE Annual Student Conference in San Francisco. Richard accepted the Outstanding Chapter award on behalf of the U.Va. AIChE Student Chapter, and Drew accepted the Donald and Mildred Othmer Award.






Kevin Bahati, a first-year engineering student, was featured in U.Va. Today. Kevin plans to major in chemical engineering and is currently conducting undergraduate research under the supervision of Prof. Geise with support from the U.Va. USOAR program.




Prof. David Green, Prof. Geoff Geise, and several U.Va. ChE graduate and undergraduate students represented the department at the 4th annual Virginia Soft Matter Workshop. The workshop was held in Richmond and hosted by VCU on October 29, and seeks to bring soft matter researchers from across the Commonwealth of Virginia together to present research, share ideas, and develop collaborations. Several U.Va. ChE representatives presented their research at the workshop.




Prof. Geoff Geise recently served as a guest co-editor for a special issue of the Elsevier journal Polymer titled, "New Polymeric Materials and Characterization Methods for Water Purification". The issue published on October 26, 2016, and highlights research on a variety of topics related to water purification membrane materials.






Prof. Josh Choi's recent Science Advances article titled "Entropy-driven structural transition and kinetic trapping in formamidinium lead iodide perovskite" was recently featured in U.Va. Today.






Congratulations to graduate student Nick Murphy for winning an outstanding poster award at the BMES conference last week for his poster titled, "Highly Efficient Encapsulation of Small-molecule N-acetylcysteine Within PLGA Nanoparticles." His was one of only 5 awards given (out of >1000 posters presented at the meeting).




The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Virginia is pleased to announce a new endowed seminar series: “The Edward L. Paul Lecture on Industrial Chemical Engineering”.

Edward L. Paul is a 1952 BS Chemical Engineering graduate of U.Va. (Navy ROTC program). After serving in the Navy, he received his MSE from Princeton in 1955. He then joined Merck Research labs in Rahway, NJ in 1955. He was supported by the Merck doctoral program to complete his graduate work by gaining his PhD (under Professor Treybal) in 1969 at New York University. However, he retained a close relationship to U.Va., where he also met his late wife Lois when both were members of the U.Va. orchestra.

Ed stayed at Merck for 40 years until his retirement as Executive Director, Chemical Engineering Research and Development in 1994. Few have had as much impact on chemical engineering process development in the pharmaceutical industry as Ed. He is an internationally recognized as an expert in the field of mixing and crystallization and has served as editor of the “Handbook of Industrial Mixing” (Wiley 2004) and “Crystallization of Organic Compounds” (Wiley 2006). In 1995 he was recognized with the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Distinguished Achievement Award. Ed is also a fellow in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

At Merck, Ed developed some of the most innovative pharmaceutical processing in the industry. This included the continuous catalytic ammoxidation process for tiabendazole (an antiparasitic), the continuous kinetic resolution of D&L isomers by crystallization of carbidopa (Parkinson’s disease), the synthesis of the broad spectrum antibiotics Mefoxin and Primaxin, purification of lovastatin/simvastatin (reduction of cholesterol), the very complex synthesis of indinivir sulfate (Crixivan – a protease inhibitor for HIV infection) and many more too numerous to mention.

His work included the full scope from process creation, pilot plant operations, plant design and finally the technical transfer of the process to the final manufacturing facility. He was also was mentor/teacher to scores of new chemical engineers at Merck and the pharmaceutical industry.

The first lecture of the series will be in March 2017 with Ed there to lead off the series.


Fourth year undergraduate student Drew Biedermann (near right) was awarded a 2016-2017 Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Scholarship by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). This award is presented annually to 15 AIChE undergraduate student members on the basis of academic achievement and involvement in student chapter activities. This year marks the fourth year in a row that a U.Va. student has been honored with the Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Scholarship (2015-2016: Alex Yang, 2014-2015: Mike Brown, & 2013-2014: Colvin Wang).

Third year undergraduate student Rebecca Burkley (far right) was selected for the 2015-2016 Donald F. Othmer Sophomore Academic Excellence. This award is presented to one AIChE student member in each student chapter to recognize academic performance during their first two years of study.

The awards will be presented at the 2016 AIChE Annual Student Conference in San Francisco on Sunday, November 13.


Congratulations to the U.Va. AIChE Student Chapter for being selected as an Outstanding AIChE Student Chapter! This year marks the 4th time the chapter has been recognized with this award (2016, 2015, 2013, and 2011).

According to AIChE: The Outstanding AIChE Student Chapter award is, "presented annually to those Student Chapters that show an exceptional level of participation, enthusiasm, program quality, professionalism, and involvement in the university and community."

This award will be presented at the 2016 AIChE Annual Student Conference in San Francisco, during the Student Awards Ceremony, Sunday, November 13, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.



The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Virginia is saddened by the loss of our distinguished colleague and friend Jack Hudson, who passed away on Saturday (Aug. 6, 2016). Jack had an immeasurable impact on the chemical engineering profession and was recognized in 2008 with election to the National Academy of Engineering. The obituary can be found here.






Profs. Roseanne Ford and Matt Lazzara are members of a faculty team that was recently awarded a $122,000 Research Innovation Grant to create a SEAS Center for Systems Bioengineering. Ford and Lazzara will collaborate with four faculty colleagues in the University of Virginia Biomedical Engineering Department to develop the Center.






The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Virginia is pleased to announce that Professor Bill Epling will be joining our faculty as Department Chair of Chemical Engineering. Prof. Epling intends to start his position at the beginning of the fall semester.





Prof. Geoffrey Geise was selected to receive the ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. Each year, ORAU member institutions are permitted to nominate up to 2 junior faculty members for the award to enhance their research. Prof. Geise was nominated by U.Va. this year and was one of 35 junior faculty from across the nation to be selected for the award. He was chosen from 132 applicants from ORAU’s 121 institutions.




U.Va. ChE alumnus Barry Morris ('80) was selected by DuPont to receive the 2016 Pedersen Award. The award is named in honor of Nobel Prize Medalist Charles J. Pedersen and recognizes individuals who have made outstanding technical achievements that are helping make a difference to people around the world.

Pedersen Medalists are selected by The DuPont Fellows, a group of the highest technical professionals in the company. The medalists’ technical knowledge, skill and commitment in their respective areas have resulted in important new products for DuPont customers.

Barry Morris is an industry expert in polymers and an industry pioneer for polymer and process modeling. He has developed predictive models for packaging film markets, enabling customers to minimize package weight and cost while maintaining rigidity and package function through the use of multilayer structures that incorporate high-performance materials such as DuPont™ Surlyn® ionomer resins.


The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Virginia is pleased to announce that Associate Professor Matthew Lazzara and Assistant Professor Steven Caliari will join the faculty this coming fall. Profs. Lazzara and Caliari will bring expertise to the faculty that will compliment departmental strengths in biotechnology and biomolecular engineering as well as materials engineering.





Congratulations to graduate student Joanna Adadevoh who recently won third place in the U.Va. Engineering Research Symposium (UVERS). Joanna is a member of the Ford research group.








U.Va. ChE alumnus Dr. Jason Sheehan (B.S. ChE '92) was recently recognized in U.Va. Today for his work at the UVA Health System's Gamma Knife Center. The article discusses recent work, published by Sheehan and co-workers, on radiosurgery for cerebral arteriovenous malformations.








Congratulations to Ben Huang (graduate student in the Davis Lab) for placing 2nd overall (University-wide) and winning the audience favorite category at the U.Va. Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition where he described his thesis research titled, "A New Approach to Cooling Hypersonic Vehicles."






Congratulations to U.Va. ChE undergraduate students Meghan Pinezich, Julia Sheehan, and Saehee Jung for winning Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards!


Meghan (pictured near right) and Julia (pictured far right) are currently 3rd year students conducting research in the Lampe and Ford research groups, respectively, and Saehee (not pictured) is a 2nd year student conducting research in the Green research group.





Prof. Giorgio Carta was selected to receive the Robert A. Moore, Jr. Award in Chemical Engineering. This award was established in 2007 by Bob Moore (Halsey Professor, 1997) to recognize a U.Va. chemical engineering faculty member whose teaching, research, and outreach activities during the previous twelve-month period best represent the interests of industry and best prepare students for industrial careers.






Prof. Gary Koenig and Dipankar Ghosh, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Old Dominion University, along with their graduate students, are working to improve energy storage in batteries, combining Koenig’s expertise in battery material design with a new freeze-casting technique developed in Ghosh’s lab to create high-power solid-state batteries as descibed in a recent U.Va. Today article.