Dr. Xiaoguang Peng received prestigious fellowship from Anton Paar

February 15, 2019

Dr. Xiaoguang Peng


Dr. Xiaoguang Peng – a postdoctoral research associate from Dr. Anson Ma’s research group – has received a prestigious fellowship from Anton Paar in recognition of his expertise in rheology and contributions to the science of complex fluids. Dr. Peng received his PhD degree in Chemical Engineering from Texas Tech University in 2016. Before joining UCONN in 2018, he was a PhD student and then a postdoctoral fellow in Prof. Greg McKenna’s group at Texas Tech. He has over 10 years of experience in the synthesis and characterization of polymers and colloidal dispersions.


The Anton Paar fellowship was established in 2016 as part of a strategic partnership between Ma’s research group and Anton Paar – a world-leading manufacturer of measurement instruments. The company has provided fellowships and loaned their most advanced rheometer, the MCR 702 TwinDrive Rheometer, to Dr. Ma’s lab. https://news.engr.uconn.edu/new-partnership-brings-high-end-research-equipment-to-uconn.php

UConn CBE Welcomes Assistant Professor Liang Zhang

January 25, 2019

Prof. Liang Zhang

The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department welcomes Liang Zhang as an Assistant-Professor.  

Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on developing theoretical frameworks and computational methods to accelerate the discovery of materials. In particular, he is interested in catalytic materials and other functional materials that enable efficient chemical transformation and energy storage.

Dr. Liang Zhang earned his Ph.D. degree in Physical Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin in 2015. After that, he worked at Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania for his postdoctoral training. The primary area of Dr. Zhang’s research is to use state-of-the-art computational tools to simulate and understand chemical reactions from first principles. His research aims to the in-silico discovery and engineering of materials for energy and environmental applications.

CBE Congratulates Dr. Lei on His New Appointment to a Centennial Term Professorship in the School of Engineering

December 10, 2018

Professor Yu Lei, Chemical and Biomelcular Engineering, has been chosen for appointment to a Centennial Term Professorship in the School of Engineering. The Centennial Term Professorships, established through an anonymous donation of $1 million, are aimed at recognizing outstanding faculty members who have left a lasting impact on the School of Engineering through leadership and innovation in teaching, research, mentorship, engagement, and institution building.

Dr. Lei received his Ph.D. in 2004 from the University of California-Riverside. He joined UConn’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2006.  Dr. Lei is a well-acknowledged expert in the areas of chemical and biological sensors. The primary area of Professor Lei’s research is to develop novel, simple, cost-effective, ultrasensitive, and universal (bio)sensor and/or nanomaterial-based sensor platforms for the detection of biological and chemical species, which combine the principles of chemical engineering, nanotechnology and molecular biology for homeland security, environmental, energy and biomedical monitoring.

Dr. Lei is an elected Fellow of American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). He is a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) in Chemical Engineering and was a recipient of UConn School of Engineering Dean’s Excellence Award in 2016. Dr. Lei has over 140 peer-reviewed journal publications, 3 invited book chapters, and more than 10 patents/disclosures.

UConn’s Dr. Parnas Works with REA Resource Recovery Systems LLC to Turn Wastewater Treatment Byproducts into Biodiesel Fuel

Richard Parnas of the IMS Polymer Program enjoyed a visit from Governor Danell Malloy to the site of UConn’s collaborative project with the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority and REA Resource Recovery Systems LLC on September 27, 2018. The visit celebrated the first milestone of the project, where the brown grease waste stream from the East Shore wastewater treatment plant is converted to biodiesel fuel in a process patented by Dr. Parnas that REA licenses from UConn. Dr. Parnas and REA installed a mini-refinery at the East Shore treatment plant with capability to produce approximately 400,000 liters per year of biodiesel fuel from the brown grease. That system serves as a 1/10 scale demonstration of a typical commercial system the company can install at many of the thousands of wastewater treatment plants throughout the world. For ease of installation, the entire demonstration system was constructed inside of 2 CONEX shipping containers at ProFlow, Inc. of North Haven, CT. Future plans include the installation of a turbo-electric generator to demonstrate a pathway to converting the waste stream to power at a cost much less then required with current biodigester technology.

Cong Liu, a chemical engineering graduate student working with Prof. Parnas, describes aspects of the conversion process to an aide to Governor Malloy while standing outside of the main reactor room of the mini-refinery.

Governor Malloy, Dr. Parnas, and UCONN Chemistry undergraduate Dylan Ramirez discuss the importance of waste management and power generation to the wastewater treatment industry.

REA managing partner Al Barbarotta, Governor Malloy and Prof. Parnas discussing the chemistry of the conversion process while standing in the main reactor room of the mini-refinery. A cluster of 3 continuous stirred tank reactors, a multi-phase laminar flow reactor, and a liquid/liquid extractor are visible in the background.

Profs. Lei and Srivastava inducted into CASE

March 3, 2018

Congratulations to Professor Yu Lei and Professor Ranjan Srivastava for their induction into the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.  More details may be found via the following link.

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Yu Lei Inducted into AIMBE, Looks to the Future

April 4, 2017

By: Taylor Caron

Professor Yu Lei (left) with graduate students Qiuchen Dong and Xiaoyu Ma. (Peter Morenus for UConn)

Professor Yu Lei has been inducted into the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering for his work in biological sensor design and testing. AIMBE is a one of the most prestigious institutes for medical and biomedical engineers as it comprises of only the top 2% of professionals in the field. While he is proud of his achievements, he said he has no intention of resting on his laurels. His research is heading toward a focus on digital technology which would make biosensors more affordable for individuals.

Lei spoke of the nature of his work that AIMBE is recognizing: “AIMBE considers professionals whose accomplishments are related to medical issues. It has always been my desire to work toward innovating more effective and affordable tools for medical professionals which is why this is so rewarding,” he said.

Lei has been credited with adapting the traditional area of electrochemistry for nanoscale structures for not only sensing, but also for applications in biocatalysis and chemical catalysis. The institute recognizes him as the pioneer in developing nanostructured metal oxide based enzymatic and non-enzymatic glucose biosensors with strong success in combating diabetes. AIMBE has seen these achievements, among others, as seminal advancements in public health.


He spoke about the process of induction which includes nomination, rigorous screen testing, and voting by the College of Fellows. He said there must be an affirmative vote of at least 74.5% in order to be inducted.


“It was certainly surprising to know that so many of AIMBE’s incredibly prestigious College affirmed my induction, but also was an excellent feeling that all this hard work paid off,” he said.

According to Lei, a professional network of AIMBE’s stature can significantly promote and advance a researcher and their university. He said that UConn is increasingly becoming a more recognized and accolated research university, and that being able to represent the Chemical Engineering and Biomolecular Department at AIMBE will only further highlight the program on a national level.

Lei said that networking opportunities with AIMBE can aid with research projects going forward. As previously mentioned, Lei believes the future of biosensors, a field in which he already is seen as a pioneer, needs to look to digital technology. A digital biosensor will not only be more affordable than electrochemical biosensors, but also can be more precise in detecting targeted molecules.


“We are looking to develop a biosensor which can detect a small molecule, allowing for medical professionals to detect and track dangerous or toxic molecules early on. This is the kind of technology which is available in some hospitals, but it is very large and expensive equipment. This technology needs to be available for individuals so they can communicate with their doctors regularly about the concentration level of toxic molecules or biomarkers for diseases,” Lei said.


Though Lei cannot disclose too much about the specificities of his current research, he was happy to comment that there have been reassuring successes. He mentioned that even the current biosensors used in hospitals can error in their use of the universal standard, and that a more personalized system is necessary.

“So different people have different thresholds regarding biomarker concentration. What is dangerous for me might not necessarily be dangerous for someone else and vice versa. What we’re looking for is home-use, so that different persons can track their own individual molecule concentration. If there’s a sudden spike one day, they can contact their doctor earlier rather than later.”

Lei’s research group consists of undergraduate and graduate students who work closely with the professor on this relatively new area of research. Lei admits that he has high expectations for his students, but it is because he believes in the power of this technology for the public health and beyond.

“Yes, sometimes I push them hard but I selected them because I know they are capable of pursuing this research with me. These kinds of biosensors could also have significant applications in environmental work. This is what excites me: I think it’s important to always be pushing forward, always looking to the future for new opportunities,” he said.

Professor Cato T. Laurencin to Receive 2016 Connecticut Medal of Technology

February 1, 2017

By: SoE News (http://news.engr.uconn.edu/professor-cato-t-laurencin-to-receive-2016-connecticut-medal-of-technology.php)

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin has been named the 2016 recipient of the Connecticut Medal of Technology (Photo: Sarah Turker/UConn Health).

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, a world-renowned physician-scientist in orthopaedic surgery, engineering, and materials science, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Connecticut Medal of Technology. Laurencin, of the University of Connecticut will accept the award at the 41st Annual Meeting & Dinner of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) on May 24.

Laurencin, a CASE member since 2009, is a pioneer who has developed technologies that are revolutionary and that are in use in important applications in the marketplace. He has exhibited leadership and courage in the development of new initiatives for science and entrepreneurship.

Laurencin is a University Professor at UConn. He is the 8th University Professor in the school’s history. This rare title is awarded to individuals for extraordinary academic excellence, and sustained, high-level achievements in administration at the school and is UConn’s highest faculty distinction. He currently is chief executive officer of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, where he leads the university’s translational science research infrastructure. He is the founding director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences at UConn Health. In addition, he is a professor across the university, as well as a board certified orthopaedic surgeon, endowed professor of orthopaedic surgery, and fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Materials Research Society, and the American Chemical Society.

Laurencin has achieved not only a breadth of experience across multiple fields, but also a depth of accomplishments that places him at the highest echelon of each area in which he has been involved.

He is the scientific founder of Soft Tissue Regeneration (STR), a Connecticut company. STR is commercializing breakthrough technologies for anterior cruciate ligament regeneration (knee) and rotator cuff regeneration (shoulder). The shoulder rotator cuff regeneration device has been cleared for use by the FDA, and the anterior cruciate ligament device is now in clinical trials in Europe. In addition to STR, Laurencin is scientific co-founder of Natural Polymer Devices (NPD). NPD is a Connecticut company that focuses on developing polysaccharide polymer technologies for bone regeneration. The company is in the process of seeking FDA clearance of a novel fracture repair device for the treatment of cervical spine fractures.

Laurencin was named one of the 100 Engineers of the Modern Era by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at their Centennial Celebration in 2009. He was named for his seminal work in the development of polymerceramic systems for bone repair. In seminal papers and patents, he described the development of composite matrix systems that could foster bone healing. That research, which has continued to this day, has been the inspiration for the biocomposite interference screw, a principal means of fixation bone. Laurencin’s work in the development of sintered polymer microspheres for bone repair has inspired products now on the market. His research has also focused on the development of degradable polymers for drug delivery applications based on the polyanhydrides. Work in that area resulted in the development of products for bone infection treatment and brain tumor treatment.

Laurencin has shown leadership nationally and in Connecticut in the fostering of new technology. He served as a permanent member of the orthopaedic device panel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Later he was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to the National Science Advisory Board (Science Board) of the FDA, the overseeing body of that agency. There he helped revamp the FDA and its mission of providing scientifically based decisions on the approval of devices, drugs, and biologics.

In Connecticut, Laurencin has performed distinguished service of the highest order. He was the faculty leader in the development of the state’s Bioscience Connecticut Initiative. This initiative calls for doubling incubator space for new companies at UConn, while otherwise fostering a collaborative environment that encourages inventorship and innovation. Much of the success in the passage of Bioscience Connecticut, especially in educating individuals on the benefits of the initiative, has been attributed to Laurencin.

“The State of Connecticut is proud to award the Connecticut Medal of Technology to Dr. Cato T. Laurencin for his internationally recognized work developing revolutionary technologies using his combined background in medicine and engineering,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “In addition, we honor Dr. Laurencin’s success both as an inventor and as someone who creates environments that allow innovation to grow.”

Laurencin is recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for his work in developing new technologies. In Connecticut, Laurencin was named the 2014 CURE Connecticut Academic Entrepreneur of the Year. He received the Technology Innovation and Development Award from the Society for Biomaterials, their highest award for inventorship, and in 2013 was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors.

Laurencin is an elected member of both the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering, the first orthopaedic surgeon in history to achieve dual election. Internationally, he is a fellow of the Indian National Academy of Sciences, a foreign fellow of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, an associate fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of The World Academy of Sciences. He was named a recipient of the National Medal of Technology & Innovation in December 2015.

Published: April 15, 2016

Remembering Dr. Michael Howard

By: SoE News (http://news.engr.uconn.edu/remembering-dr-michael-howard.php)


Dr. G. Michael Howard, 81, professor emeritus of chemical engineering and beloved husband for 57 years of Jane Deans Howard, passed away on December 21, 2016. Professor Howard served as associate dean for UConn Engineering, as well as department head of chemical engineering during his 36 year tenure as a full time professor.  Born in Washington, DC on July 4, 1935, he graduated from the University of Rochester in 1957. He subsequently earned his master’s degree from Yale before coming to UConn to receive his Ph.D.

In 1961 he began his 50 year affiliation with the chemical engineering department at UConn, which is now called the chemical and biomolecular engineering department. Throughout Dr. Howard’s time at UConn he was a favorite of his students and well-respected by his peers. He received numerous teaching honors and awards, including the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Student Government, two-time winner of the Rogers Corp. Outstanding Teacher Award in Chemical Engineering, induction into the UConn School of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Engineers, and the Mike Howard Educational Excellence Fund in Chemical Engineering was established by his peers and former students upon his retirement.

Nationally, Dr. Howard chaired the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) National Program Committee on Education and the Liaison Committee between AIChE and the ASEE Chemical Engineering Division.

While at the University of Rochester, Mike was a crafty undersized center on the basketball team and was coached by Louis Alexander, a former UConn player and coach. Mike was also the captain and number one player on the tennis team. For more than 30 years he was a regular at the lunchtime pick-up basketball games in Guyer Gym on the UConn campus. Mike was a devoted UConn sports fan, particularly of the men’s and women’s basketball and soccer teams, and the football team. He enjoyed serving UConn through various positions on athletic advisory committees.

In 2011 Mike was honored with induction into the Hastings High School Hall of Excellence for his contributions to higher education. Two Nobel Prize winners are in the same Hall of Excellence, and in his induction speech, Mike proudly and humbly shared his belief that if you couldn’t win a Nobel Prize yourself, you could still make a wonderful contribution by striving to lay the groundwork for someone else to win one.

Mike was committed to his family and students, making sure that all knew through his support and generosity that he was there to help them reach their highest potential. He was a lover of crossword and number puzzles of all kinds, had endless knowledge of many subjects, loved trivia games and quizzes, and was known to enjoy a good pun.

Mike is survived by Jane, and his three children, Russell Howard and his wife Christina of Williamstown, MA, James Howard and his wife Kateri of Glastonbury, CT, and Ann Howard Phillips and her husband Todd of Wexford, PA. He also leaves his sister, Helen Howard Harmon of San Francisco, CA, brother and sister-in-law William and Nancy Deans of Acton, ME, eight cherished grandchildren, two nieces and one nephew. His family will deeply miss his wisdom, sense of humor, wit and generosity, particularly at the family gatherings on Candlewood Lake.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Mike Howard Educational Excellence Fund by contributing to the UConn Foundation, Inc. 2390 Alumni Drive Unit 3206, Storrs Ct 06269, and referencing the Mike Howard Educational Excellence Fund #22084.

Published: January 12, 2017

Professor Yongku Cho receives Best of BIOT Award

January 24, 2017

By: Taylor Caron

Cho Lab

Professor Yongku Cho of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department has received a Best of BIOT (biochemical technology) award for his presentation at the American Chemical Society’s 2016 National Meeting.


His presentation was entitled “Engineering Antibody Specificity Through Multi-Dimensional High-Throughput Screens,” and is related to his research on creating a more effective antibody to potentially detect Alzheimer’s disease for which he has received a grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH).
Professor Cho’s work involves developing an antibody which will be more effective at binding to the desired target. More precisely, Professor Cho and his lab are developing an antibody which will be more specific in targeting a particular modification that occurs on the target protein known as the Tau protein. He said that his presentation at ACS was focused on their new technology that enables the precise measurement of the antibody’s ability to specifically bind to the desire target.


“The BIOT Award had to do with describing the technology of quantifying antibody specificity,” he said. “Many researchers have focused on what is called affinity, which has to do with an antibody’s strength of attracting other proteins, but specificity is the degree to which an antibody can isolate a single target. Both of these properties are equally important to make a good quality antibody.”


Professor Cho presented a webinar (an online seminar http://www.acsbiot.org/index.php/2016-best-biot/) in September on this subject on behalf of the ACS. He and his research team are currently applying this knowledge to develop a highly specific and reactive antibody.