Month: April 2013

CBE Professor Received The Technology Innovation and Development Award

Momentum logoRepublished with permission of Momentum,
a School of Engineering electronic publication.




Dr. Cato Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., was presented the Technology Innovation and Development Award from the Society for Biomaterials. Dr. Laurencin is CEO of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, Director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering, the Van Dusen Endowed Chair in Academic Medicine and a professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.  The award recognizes an individual or team who provided key scientific and technical innovation and leadership in a novel product in which biomaterials played an important and enabling role.  For more than three decades, Dr. Laurencin has conducted research studies on biomaterials for musculoskeletal tissue engineering, nanotechnology, and drug delivery.  He notes that he was influenced by his Ph.D. mentor, Dr. Robert Langer, an Institution Professor at MIT. Read more about Dr. Laurencin here.

Dr. Daniel Burkey Promoted to Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Diversity

professor_dan_burkeyEffective July 1, 2013, Dr. Daniel Burkey will assume the position of Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Diversity.

For the past three years, Dr. Burkey has been the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) Associate Department Head, as well as Associate Professor-in-Residence of Chemical Engineering. During his time with CBE, he examined and revised the undergraduate Chemical Engineering curriculum to better meet the rapidly changing demands of the current job market, specifically focusing on the senior laboratory and senior design courses. Improvements have included the implementation of new experiments, which reflect the demands, equipment, and techniques of the profession, and partnership with local industries to engage students with real-world problems. He also oversaw the renovation of the Chemical Engineering undergraduate laboratory. Students voted Dr. Burkey AIChE Teacher of the Year for both the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 academic years. CBE thanks Dr. Burkey for his contributions and congratulates him on his new position within the School of Engineering.

Dr. William Mustain Promoted to Associate Department Head

mustain2012_profileThe Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department is pleased to announce that, as of July 1, 2013, Dr. William Mustain will be the Associate Department Head of CBE. His responsibilities will include chairing the department’s Undergraduate Committee, serving as the point of contact for students, families, and visitors to CBE, and working with the Department Head, faculty, and staff to ensure all of CBEs needs and duties are addressed to the greatest extent possible. In addition, Dr. Mustain will be promoted to Associate Professor in August.
In the past, Dr. Mustain has occupied various leadership positions within CBE, most notably as Chair of the Graduate Committee from 2009-2012 as well as the head of the department’s ABET accreditation process. Academically, Dr. Mustain’s electrochemistry research group investigates the development of novel electrocatalyst materials for energy conversion and storage, and most recently his lab was recognized for developing a promising, high- performance fuel cell catalyst. Dr. Mustain came to UConn in 2008, following a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2006.

Mustain Group Develops High Performance Fuel Cell Catalyst

CBE Professor William Mustain and Ph.D. candidate Ying Liu have reported, in a paper published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013, 135(2), pp 530–533; DOI: 10.1021/ja307635r), that a new catalyst material using tin-doped indium oxide (ITO) nanoparticles (NPs) as a high stability non-carbon support for platinum (Pt) nanoparticles has great potential as a next-generation catalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells.  As Liu and Mustain explain in their paper: “Sn was employed as the In2O3 dopant to exploit the strong interaction between Sn and Pt that was previously reported to enhance the activity of Pt on Pt/SnO2, while concomitantly avoiding the intrinsic stability limitations of SnO2 and leveraging the high stability of bulk In2O3 at ORR relevant potentials” This Pt/ITO catalyst showed mass activity that far surpassed the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy goal for Pt mass activity, and the stability of the Pt/ITO was remarkable under harsh conditions.  In the future, Dr. Mustain and Ms. Liu will continue to improve the long-term stability of Pt/ITO and investigate its performance in PEM fuel cell stacks.

Structure and Performance of Pt/ITO Electrocatalysts
Structure and Performance of Pt/ITO Electrocatalysts

CBE Students Receive Tanaka Fellowships

Momentum logo
Republished with permission of Momentum,
a School of Engineering electronic publication


Doctoral candidates Neil Spinner and Ying Liu (Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering) have received John Tanaka Graduate Student Fellowship awards, which are presented to outstanding University of Connecticut graduate students who are members of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest honor society.

ying-liu Just two awards are presented annually.

“Both Neil and Ying are model graduate students.  They are smart, hard-working, dedicated researchers.  I am very proud of both of them – I could not think of two more qualified students for this award,” says Dr. William Mustain, their thesis advisor.

The John Tanaka Award, first given in 1993, was established in honor of Dr. John Tanaka, emeritus professor of chemistry and former Director of the Honors Programs. Dr. Tanaka, who died in April 2012, led the Phi Kappa Phi chapter for many years.neil-spinner

Selection is based on an applicant’s promise of success in graduate or professional study as evidenced by: academic achievement, relevant research experience, service and leadership experience on and off campus, and personal and career goals.

Ying, who has nine archival publications in high impact journals, is researching novel electrocatalysts for proton exchange membrane fuel cells, which is expected to play a significant role in providing clean, sustainable power for the 21st century and beyond.  In nominating Ying for the honor, Dr. Mustain noted “…her most important mentoring and leadership has occurred in the laboratory where she has worked side-by-side with five of our young undergraduates.”

In his graduate research, Neil is synthesizing first generation electrocatalysts for the electrochemical synthesis of fuels at room temperature, with very low required energy input, and has used the results to develop design criteria for next generation catalysts. As a National Science Foundation GK-12 Fellow from 2010-12, Neil mentored students at Howell Cheney Technical High School in Manchester, CT and has contributed toward the UConn Mentor Connection and the Joule Fellows programs at UConn.

UConn Places First in AIChE “ChemE Car” Poster Competition

On April 13th and 14th, thirteen UConn Chemical Engineering students took part in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Regional Conference at UMass-Amherst.

While at the conference, the students participated in AIChE’s ChemE Car competition. This competition challenges students to build a car that can travel between 15 and 30 meters, carrying anywhere between 0 and 500 grams. Students are not told the exact numbers until the day of the competition, at which time they are allowed to make minor adjustments to suit the requirements. The competition’s rules stipulate that the car must be autonomous, powered by chemical reaction, and without mechanical or electrical brakes. In addition to the car, each group creates a poster explaining their car—the chemical reaction that powers it, stopping mechanism, safety features, design, circuitry, and special features. The UConn team, advised by Dr. William Mustain, placed first of nine teams in this poster competition.

This was the first time UConn has sent a car to compete at the conference. Though the UConn group’s car, named “Harold Chegger,” did not place in the competition, the team is all very pleased with its performance. The group is looking forward to refining the car for competition next year.

In addition to participating in the competition, the group was invited by Governor Malloy to present their car at the Next Gen CT news conference, held on April 11th. The event highlighted the growing support among industry, legislature, faculty, and students for the Next Generation Connecticut initiative. This proposal would support UConn’s expansion in the STEM (science, technology, math, and engineering) disciplines.