Awards

Anson Ma Wins Arthur B. Metzner Early Career Award

Momentum logoRepublished with permission of Momentum,

a School of Engineering electronic publication.

 

Anson_profile2013

Anson Ma, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Institute of Materials Science, has been awarded the prestigious Arthur B. Metzner Early Career Award.

The award, which comes with a plaque and a $7,500 honorarium, goes to a young person who has made significant accomplishments in rheology, which is the study of the flow of matter.

Ma was nominated by Malcolm Mackley, Emeritus Professor at Cambridge University, who worked with Ma from 2005 to 2009 on the rheology of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) suspended in epoxy and acrylic resins. In his nomination, Mackley wrote:

Anson, with his meticulous approach to science and rheology made sense of difficult experiments. Working together with Prof Paco Chinesta, who is now at Ecole Centrale des Nantes, Anson was the glue that made the link between experiment and some high level suspension rheological modeling.

At UConn, Ma and his team apply experimental and theoretical rheology to a broad range of important application areas. Since 2011, Ma has supervised three postdoctoral fellows, four PhD students, and three visiting students from France. He has also hosted 21 undergraduate students, three high school teachers, and eight
minority high school students to provide them with early research experience related to rheology. To engage younger students and the local community, Ma has chosen food science and, more specifically, rheology of culinary foams and emulsions as the theme for his outreach plan.

Bollas Receives Mentorship Excellence Award

By Sydney Souder

BollasCaption1Dr. George Bollas, Assistant Professor of the CBE Department, is the first recipient of the Office of Undergraduate Research’s (OUR) Faculty Mentorship Excellence Award. He received the award at the 18th Annual Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition on Friday, April 10, 2015.

With this award, OUR recognizes the critically significant role that mentors play in supporting their undergraduates’ research and creative activity. A committee of OUR Peer Research Ambassadors selected one faculty recipient and one graduate student for the Mentorship Excellence Award recognizing their dedication to their students.BollasCaption3

Ari Fischer, one of his mentees who contributed to his nomination, presented the plaque to Dr. Bollas. Fischer commended Dr. Bollas’ extraordinary commitment to challenging and supporting his students. He attributes Dr. Bollas’ influence to helping his mentees achieve their research, personal, and professional goals. Dr. Bollas has helped his students formulate their own research projects, apply for fellowships and publish their own work.

Bollas’ current research group consists of seven Ph.D. students, one Masters student, and 10 undergraduates. Fischer asserts that Dr. Bollas’s dedication is not limited to just those in his lab, but to all of his students; he pushes them to get the most out of their education.

Although honored by his new plaque, Dr. Bollas explained what he considers his real prize. “At the end of the day we’re given the opportunity to spend time with these amazing, fresh minds hungry for knowledge and work, and that is what is most rewarding.”

 

CBE Professor Receives Women of Innovation Award

By Sydney Souder

DMaricCaption2r. Radenka Maric, Connecticut Clean Energy Professor in Sustainable Energy in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, was honored with the Research Innovation & Leadership Award at the Women of Innovation awards ceremony on April 1, 2015.

Fifty-six finalists were honored for their innovation and leadership at the Connecticut Technology Council’s eleventh annual celebration. The Women of Innovation awards gala recognizes women accomplished in science, technology, engineering, math, and also involved in their community. The event allows like-minded, successful women to celebrate their accomplishments together.

MaricCaption1Ten of the finalists were announced as award winners during the event. Winners were chosen in eight categories. The Research Innovation & Leadership Award won by Dr. Maric is presented to a woman who has developed new knowledge or products, or improvements to products in a corporate or academic setting through original approaches to research. The Research Innovation and Leadership recipient also exhibits leadership ability by leading research teams, motivating staff and securing funding or resources to enable her research program.

Dr. Maric’s research innovation and leadership is remarkable. She is internationally recognized for her contributions in sustainable energy technologies supporting the development of efficient, fuel cell-powered vehicles; nanomaterials; and manufacturability. Dr. Maric’s research interests include: synthesis of nanomaterials, unique new materials and associated processes, catalysis, kinetics, electrochemical cell design and architecture, new analytical and diagnostic techniques, fuel cell and battery systems, alternative electrochemical fuels and reactant modification, hydrogen production and storage, and sensor technology.

“I look forward to continuing my work in research, teaching, and outreach here at the University of Connecticut,” says Dr.  Maric.

Danica Chin ’13 Named A 2015 STEP Award Emerging Leader

Momentum logoRepublished with permission of Momentum,

a School of Engineering electronic publication.

 

 

Danica Chin CaptionDanica Chin ’13, has been named a 2015 STEP Award Emerging Leader by The Manufacturing Institute and featured in the most recent issue of  Diversity Woman Magazine.

Soon after graduating with a Chemical Engineering degree, Chin started working at Bayer MaterialScience in Sheffield, MA. A native of Stratford, CT, Chin entered the BRIDGE program when she came to UConn, which prepares underrepresented students for the engineering curriculum with an intensive five weeks of studying mathematics, chemistry, physics and computer programming.

“I loved BRIDGE,” she said. “It was important because it did so much for me. It introduced me to topics I had never known before.” Not having had classes in computer science and physics in high school, she said, the extra programs gave her an advantage.

“I knew what I was getting involved in when the Fall semester arrived.”

She now works as a process engineer at Bayer MaterialScience.

“I love it at Bayer,” she said. “They’re all real supportive of what I want to do. My boss is very open to things that I want to work on. I  make sure our production lines are working properly and that the equipment is running properly. It’s like a small company within a company, and I’m the owner.”

She said the STEP Award and being featured in the magazine are all the more rewarding because of the obstacles that she faced along the way, particularly an anxiety disorder that made taking tests a struggle. But she persisted, got through school and is now in a leadership position at a major company.

“I just think it’s important to let people know that they can do it, even with obstacles in the way,” she said.

 

CBE Undergraduates Win AIChE Poster Prizes

By Sydney Souder

Students of the CBE department excelled at AIChE’s Undergraduate Poster Competition this November. Despite fierce competition among more than 300 student presenters, six UConn Chemical Engineers took home prizes.

The 2014 AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) Annual Meeting was held in Atlanta, Georgia this year. It is the premier forum for chemical engineers, and academic and industry experts presented developments on a wide range of topics relevant to cutting-edge research, new technologies, and emerging growth areas in chemical engineering.

Over the years, the Undergraduate Poster Session has become one of the highlights of the conference. Competing students each prepared a poster detailing progress and contributions on their independent research projects. During the conference, the students presented their work to individual judges. Over 80 judges were in attendance, all of which were senior AIChE members from academia or industry.

The research categories included: Catalysis and Reaction Engineering; Sustainability; Food, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology; Separations; Environmental; Education; Fuels, Petrochemicals and Energy; Computing and Process Control; and Materials Engineering and Sciences. Awards were presented to the top posters in each division.

We’re pleased to announce that the following UConn CBE undergraduates won in their divisions:

  • Gabriella Frey – 1st Place in Separations
    “Formulating Draw Solution Mixtures for Forward Osmosis”
  • Gianna Credaroli – 2nd Place in Separations
    “A New Thin Film Composite Membrane”
  • Oscar Nordness – 2nd place in energy fuels and petrochemicals
    “Incorporation of High Pressure CLC into IGCC systems”
  • Abbey Wangstrom – 2nd place in Reaction and Catalysis Engineering
    “High Activity, High Stability Pt/ITO Fuel Cell Catalysts”
  • Clarke Palmer – 3rd Place in Fuels, Petrochemicals, and Energy
    “Reactor Design and Analysis of a Simulated moving Bed Reactor for Chemical-Looping Combustion”
  • Ari Fischer – 3rd Place in Catalysis and Reaction Engineering
    “Thermochemical CO2 and H2O Splitting Via Chemical-Looping with Cerium and Cobalt Mixed Oxides for Oxygen Generation”

After their hard work, the CBE faculty treated our undergraduates to a night on the town.

AIChE Atlanta

Doug Cooper Elected as Fellow of AIChE

Cooper The Board of Directors of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers has elected Dr. Doug Cooper as a Fellow of AIChE. To be considered for the honor, a candidate must practice chemical engineering for at least 25 years, and be a member of AIChE for at least ten. Election as Fellow recognizes both service for the betterment of society and the profession, and professional accomplishment in engineering, management, research, education, or entrepreneurship.

Dr. Cooper has excelled in a number of these categories. Currently professor and head of the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Connecticut, Dr. Cooper has also served as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at UConn.

His recent academic pursuits focus on helping nontraditional students engage in STEM disciplines. His research focus is on process control system analysis and design. He also has an ongoing interest in mentoring students in entrepreneurship, creativity, leadership, and life-long learning.

Dr. Cooper has authored and co-authored 85 scholarly publications, garnered more than $6 million in research funding from government and industry. In addition, he has been inducted into the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (2004), honored by the Carnegie Foundation as the Connecticut Professor of the Year (2004), and designated as a Teaching Fellow at UConn (2003).

“Most of all,” says Dr. Cooper, “I enjoy interacting with students and guiding their intellectual growth.” He has taught engineering classes at all undergraduate and graduate levels, and has innovated software and supporting materials for teaching automatic process control, now used by 250 academic institutions around the world.

In 2004, Dr. Cooper founded Control Station, Inc., a company that offers a portfolio of industrial process control solutions and services to manufacturers. With a dozen employees, including four chemical engineers, Control Station offers an array of best-in-class technologies for optimizing plant operation.

“I am honored to join the ranks of Fellow of AIChE,” says Dr. Cooper.

CBE Professor 2014 Kunesh Award Recipient

By Sydney Souder

mccutcheon_jeffrey2012_profileDr. Jeffrey McCutcheon, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is the recipient of the prestigious 2014 FRI/ John G. Kunesh Award. This award, presented by the Separations Division of AIChE, acknowledges outstanding separations scientists under the age of 40. Dr. McCutcheon received this highly competitive international award for his outstanding achievements and contributions in the field of osmotic separations. “I have long made AIChE a part of my professional network,” says McCutcheon. “And I am eager to continue that throughout my career.”

Dr. McCutcheon is a leading scholar in the development, characterization, and performance testing of novel membranes for forward osmosis applications. His substantial contributions have been recognized by the industrial community. In the past three years, he has received the Solvay Specialty Polymers Young Faculty Award, the 3M Faculty award, and the DuPont Young Professor award.

Dr. McCutcheon is the Director of the Sustainable Water and Energy Learning Laboratory (SWELL). His early work included pioneering studies on forward osmosis (FO), a salinity gradient process that uses osmotic potential for driving a desalination process. This work has since expanded to consider other osmotically driven membrane processes.

“Water is a key component of economic growth, and it is a necessary commodity to help humanity emerge from the global economic slowdown. My research seeks to reduce the cost of producing drinking quality water from saline or otherwise impaired water sources,” he says. “I am excited by revolutionary technologies that approach the challenges of desalination and water reuse in a unique and cost effective manner.”

CBE Professor Awarded Prestigious NARSAD Grant

By Sydney Souder

cho_yongku_profileDr. Yongku Cho, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has received a prestigious and highly competitive NARSAD Young Investigator Grant. Funded through the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, NARSAD grants are dedicated to research in brain and behavior disorders. The Young Investigator Grant supports promising young scientists conducting neurobiological research.

Dr. Cho’s two-year grant offers cho microscope captioncritical backing to enable him to collect pilot data for his innovative ideas. His grant will support Dr. Cho’s research group to develop a novel approach for rapid and reversible knockout of target genes. His group will research which regulated protein levels affect brain circuits. They will specifically study the mechanism of GABAA receptor dysfunction. Deficits in GABAA receptor function have been linked to multiple neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as epilepsy and schizophrenia. With his new technique, he intends to study the role of GABAA receptor interacting proteins, which may lead to therapeutic targets for such diseases.

First exposed to engineered antibodies during his graduate cho cell captionresearch at Wisconsin, Dr. Cho is now interested in manipulating these proteins to include new functions. “The broader objective of the work is to engineer antibodies with useful functionalities that they normally would not have,” says Dr. Cho.

If successful, this project could have wide applications and might connect with UConn’s interests as well. Dr. Cho foresees a potential collaboration with the Jackson laboratory for Genomic Medicine. The new laboratory at UConn’s Farmington campus seeks genomic solutions to disease, making medicine more precise and predictable. They are one of world’s leading institutes for transgenic mouse research.

“With the methods from this research, we might be able to pinpoint gene functions within such model organisms,” says Cho. For more information on Dr. Cho and his research, please visit his website.

 

Leslie Shor Named a DuPont Young Professor

Momentum logoRepublished with permission of Momentum,

a School of Engineering electronic publication.

 

shor captionDr. Leslie Shor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering specializes in recreating very small habitats – smaller than the width of a human hair in some cases. Building from scratch a simulated habitat that might sustain up to a thousand different organisms that each need different conditions to survive is no easy trick.

But the potential payoffs can be huge – more sustainable agriculture, better ways to fight infection, or more sustainable energy production from biofuels.

One particular project in her lab prompted DuPont to name her a 2014 Young Professor. The annual program recognizes professors engaged in innovative research that addresses global challenges regarding food, energy and production. Shor, one of 10 professors to receive the appointment, will receive $75,000 over the next three years to support their research.

The project that won DuPont’s attention is the same one that won a Grand Challenges Exploration grant of $100,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2012.

Hunger and poverty affect 1 billion people. Population growth, changing consumption habits, and a shifting climate will only magnify the problem. So developing new ways to increase food production is crucial. To that end, Shor and other researchers in her lab hope to find a new way to increase crop yields. For this research, she teamed up with Daniel J. Gage (Molecular & Cell Biology), a microbiologist with expertise in the rhizosphere. That’s the region of soil around a plant’s roots where crucial nutrients are absorbed. Beneficial bacteria in the rhizosphere can help plants by inhibiting pathogens and producing antibiotics. The rhizosphere is also home to protozoa – a kingdom of single-celled animals with the ability to move efficiently in soil. That’s where Shor comes in, with her knowledge of artificial microbial habitats and how protozoa migrate in micro-structured environments.

With her collaborators and students, Shor seeks to increase crop yields by using protozoa to distribute bacteria along growing roots. Currently, applications of biologicals or agrichemicals are not targeted, leading to inefficiency and adverse environmental impacts. Solving one problem might lead to the creation of several more. In Shor’s lab, they’re trying to use the environment as part its own solution.

“The soil system is an incredibly complex habitat, and it’s home to organisms from all five kingdoms – plants, animals protista fungi and archae – are all present in the soil,” she said. They interact with each other, and with the air, water, organic matter and soil grains in complex ways. Typically, microbiologists will take organisms out of their natural habitat and put them into an overly simplified lab habitat.

“There’s no microstructure in those habitats, typically,” she said. “Our microhabitats are not the same thing as real soil, but they do contain some of its features. Our microhabitats offer a window into the microworld.”

 

Fellow of the American Chemical Society named

By: William Weir

laurencinDr. Cato T. Laurencin, a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and designated University Professor at UCONN has been named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society.

“The scientists selected as this year’s class of ACS fellows are truly a dedicated group,” said ACS President Tom Barton, Ph.D. “Their outstanding contributions to advancing chemistry through service to the Society are many. In their quest to improve people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry, they are helping us to fulfill the vision of the American Chemical Society.”

Laurencin, an internationally recognized engineer, scientist and orthopedic surgeon, holds the titles of University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. He also is a Professor of Materials Sciences and Engineering, and a Professor of Biomedical Engineering. He is the director of UConn Health’s Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences and founding director of UConn Health’s Institute for Regenerative Engineering. He is the Chief Executive Officer of UConn’s cross-university translational institute, the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science.

“This is a great honor,” Laurencin said. “The American Chemical Society is one of our nation’s largest science organizations and has made great contributions to the field.”

Laurencin was cited for his seminal contributions in polymer science and polymer-ceramic systems applied to biology. Well-known for his groundbreaking work in biomaterials, he has patented and invented a number of breakthrough technologies. These include the L-C Ligament, the first bioengineered matrix that completely regenerates ligament tissue inside the knee. A Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Dr. Laurencin was named one of the 100 Engineers of the Modern Era at its Centennial celebration. He is an elected member of both the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering.