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ChE News

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



Assistant Professor Michael Shirts was awarded an NSF CAREER award. The highly competitive award is the agency’s most prestigious honor in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholar. The award will fund new work on understanding the thermodynamics of molecular crystalline materials, especially pharmaceutical crystals, using advanced atomistic simulation methods, in order to allow these drugs to be formulated and processed more safely, easily and cheaply. For more information about the award and research in Prof. Shirts's group, see the U.Va. news article.


Fifteen undergraduate students from the U.Va. AIChE chapter traveled the AIChE national student meeting in San Francisco November 1-4, where several of the participants and the chapter as a whole were recognized.

In addition, four of the six U. Va. participants in the student research poster session received awards:

  • Jacob Monroe, Computing and Process Control Division: 1st place award
  • Colvin Wang, Materials Engineering and Sciences Division III: 1st place award
  • Katie Campbell, Materials Engineering and Sciences Division I: 2nd place award
  • Bailey Risteen, Materials Engineering and Sciences Division VII: 2nd place award
Congratulations to all the participants and award winners for representing the department so well! For more information, see the U.Va. news article.


John O'Connell was the guest of honor at the University of Virginia reception at the 2013 AIChE Annual Meeting in San Francisco on November 4, 2013, in honor of his years of service at Virginia and Florida. Over 100 people attended, with speeches of appreciation by department chair Roseanne Ford, former student Elizabeth Gunther, as well as his wife, Verna, and his two sons. We'll miss John on his retirement, effective December 2014, for his many years of dedicated service to the department and to the chemical engineering profession. Read Prof. O'Connell's farewell comments!


Congratulations to ChE undergraduates Matthew Tucker and Elyse McMillen of the U.Va. Synthetic Biology team for their gold medal win at the North American Regional Jamboree of the the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. Team Virginia faced 63 other North American collegiate teams this year and returned with a Gold Medal, a trophy for Best Human Practices, and an invitation to the Global iGEM Championship at MIT in November. Prof. Inchan Kwon was one of three faculty advisors to the team. For more information, see the U.Va. news article.


Bailey Risteen won 1st place in the University of Virginia Undergraduate Research and Design Engineering Symposium (URDS) with her project titled "Marine Aerosol Drop Size Effects on the Corrosion Behavior of Plain Carbon Steel". The yearly Symposium focuses on selection of the best of the undergraduate research theses to bring attention to the exciting research discoveries of the undergraduate student body in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). For more information, see the URDS site.



Joshua Lansford was recognized as one of five members of U.Va's winning entry in the national "Up to Us" competition to engage and educate college students about the federal government’s long-term debt. Josh and the other members of the team were recognized by former President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative University student meeting in St. Louis where they were awarded a $10,000 prize. For more information about their efforts, see the U.Va. news article and an article from the Batten school.



Xin Ren, graduate student in the Hudson lab, won 2nd place in the Ninth-Annual University of Virginia Engineering Research Symposium (UVERS) with her poster titled "Dynamic Emergence of Neuronal Synchrony during Kindling." The yearly Symposium highlighted the exciting research discoveries of the graduate student body in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), featuring a poster session and competition to identify graduate students who demonstrate excellence in relating their research to a broader societal context. The posters were scored on the basis of technical merit, impact, and clarity of presentation. For 2nd place, Xin received a $1000 award.


Ernie X. Pérez Almodóvar (Ph.D. '12) was named as a winner of the inaugural International Adsorption Society Award for Excellence in the Ph.D. Dissertation. The award was created to provide recognition to exceptional young scientists or engineers who have performed original doctoral thesis work of outstanding quality, achievement and impact in the area of adsorption, broadly defined. The award consists of $1,000, a certificate citing the accomplishments of the recipient, and an allowance to attend the triennial International Conference on the Fundamentals of Adsorption (FOA) of the IAS and present the recipient's research in a plenary session. The award is given triennially, so represents the best dissertation over a three year period, not only the preceeding year. For more information, see the U. Va. press release.


Ellen Zhong (ChE '14) was named one of 271 Goldwater scholars nationwide. She was one of two U.Va. students to receive the honor, and the second chemical engineering student at U. Va. to be named a Goldwater Scholar in the last four years. A list of the 2013 Goldwater Scholars and a description of the award can be found at the Goldwater Scholar home page.




Michael Shirts, assistant professor of chemical engineering, was awarded an OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty award from the Computers in Chemistry Division of the ACS. The award is designed to recognized outstanding younger faculty who are pioneering new computational methods benefiting the computational chemistry and chemical engineering community. For a description of the research, read the U. Va. news release.



Simpson Gregoire, graduate student in the Kwon lab, was recently awarded a TRANE Graduate Fellowship. The U. Va. news release provides more details about this and other fellowships awarded schoolwide in the SEAS.


John Yates receives Gehard Ertl Lecture Award

John Yates, professor of chemistry and affiliated member of the chemical engineering deparment faculty, was recently named the Gehard Ertl Lecture Award winner in 2013. The prestigious chemistry award, given by the Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Berlin, is named after Ertl, a Nobel Prize-winning surface chemistry professor emeritus at the Fritz-Haber-Institut, and is chosen for outstanding research in the field of surface science and heterogeneous catalysis. For more information, see the U. Va. news release.