Month: September 2012

New Bioreactor Experiment Debuts in Chemical Engineering Senior Lab

Chemical engineering senior Chris Hawxhurst loads media into the new bioreactor in preparation for the day’s experiment.

This fall, a new experiment on cell culture and scale-up is allowing seniors in the Chemical Engineering Program to gain hands-on experience with elements of bioprocess engineering.  Thanks to a generous equipment donation from Alexion Pharmaceuticals (Cheshire, CT), students have the opportunity to utilize industry-standard equipment and learn firsthand the challenges of working with live cell cultures. This new experiment now serves as one of the anchor experiments in the rotation.  Students spend three weeks getting a taste of the entire experience, including media preparation, sterilization techniques, small-scale batch culture, and scale up to the 2-L bioreactor. Once in the bioreactor, the students look at how various parameters, including glucose concentration, agitation rate, and temperature impact the growth kinetics of their model system, E. Coli, with an eye towards maximizing biomass production. This new experiment provides the opportunity to expose the numerous undergraduates who are interested in biochemical or bioprocess engineering to the fundamentals of industrial biotech processes.

CHEG Presents Distinguished Lecturer Edwin L. Thomas





Edwin L. “Ned” Thomas
William and Stephanie Sick Dean,
George R. Brown School of Engineering Rice University




Thursday, October 25, 2012
Dodd Konover Auditorium
4:00 P.M.

A Perspective on Some Aspects of Materials Research in the Next Decade.
Multifunctional Materials: The Mighty Electron, the Cool Photon and the Lowly Phonon…
Problem Driven Research: Improving Sets of Properties.
Creating the Magic: Synthetic MetaMaterials. MetaMaterials blur the distinction and
bridge the regime in between engineered microstructured materials with their enhanced
properties of the traditional type and multicomponent structured devices that can display functionality (amplification, filtering, sensing, etc.). Such material systems open a whole new range of heretofore unimagined material system behaviors (e.g., cloaking).


Friday, October 26, 2012
Institute of Materials Science
Room 20
11:00 A.M.

New Ideas to Manipulate the Mechanical Behavior of Polymeric Materials – from Phonons to Ballistics to Shock
Several examples will be described including the design of structures for multispectral band gaps for elastic waves to alter the phonon density of states, the creation of block polymer and bicontinuous metal-carbon nanoframes for structures that are robust against ballistic projectiles and quasi-crystalline solid/fluid structures that can steer shock waves.

Edwin L. “Ned” Thomas is the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University. He holds joint appointments with the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and frequently collaborates with faculty in the Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology.

Dr. Thomas joined Rice from MIT, where he was first the founder and director of the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology (2002-2006) and then the head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (2006-2011). Preceding his career at MIT, Thomas founded and co-directed the Institute for Interface Science and headed the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Massachusetts.

Thomas is a scientist and engineer passionate about promoting engineering leadership and student design competitions. His research focuses on using 2D and 3D lithography, direct-write, and self-assembly techniques for creating metamaterials with unprecedented mechanical and thermal properties. He is the recipient of numerous awards from the American Physical Society, American Chemical Society, Materials Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2009. He wrote the undergraduate textbook The Structure of Materials and has coauthored more than 400 papers and 15 patents.

CMBE Professor Yong Wang Receives NSF CREATIV Award

wang_yon_profileDr. Yong Wang of CMBE was recently awarded a competitive National Science Foundation CREATIV (Creative Research Awards for Transformative Interdisciplinary Ventures) grant.  CREATIV, a pilot grant system part of the INSPIRE (Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education) initiative, seeks to promote innovative and interdisciplinary projects in the areas of science, engineering, and education research. Dr. Wang is one of up to forty recipients selected to receive this grant in its inaugural year.

Dr. Wang’s winning project will use molecular nano-manufacturing strategies to develop materials that have the capability to flexibly change properties, in ways similar to that of a living organism. If successful, this will open the door for the creation of a host of smart materials that are not found in nature. The success of this project will also meet the goal of the Materials Genome Initiative launched by President Obama in 2012.

Hom Sharma is awarded the 2012 Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results (EPA-STAR) Graduate Fellowship

Hom SharmaHom Sharma, a Ph.D. candidate from the CMBE department, has received a highly competitive and prestigious Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship from The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This federal government award is limited to the country’s most outstanding graduate students in environmental science-related fields. The fellowship provides $126,000 over a three-year period to cover full tuition, a stipend, and research expenses. The fellowship has been awarded to the proposal titled “Computational and experimental investigation of catalyst deactivation to design sulfur resistant emissions oxidation catalysts” submitted to EPA. Hom is the first graduate student to receive the EPA STAR fellowship from UConn School of Engineering.

As part of this fellowship, Hom will be working on research that deals with engine emissions and catalyst deactivation due to sulfur—a complex phenomenon which involves interactions of sulfur with diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC) containing supported metals. This research will provide information of reaction kinetics for the underlying sulfation chemistry of DOC. It will help to overcome challenges inherent in the development of catalyst screening tools and aid in the identification of improved sulfur resistant DOC materials. Furthermore, engines and aftertreatment system manufacturers (who are required to meet increasingly stringent standards) will benefit from these research findings. Hom is currently part of Associate Professor Rampi Ramprasad’s research group, with his past two years of research being guided by Dr. Ashish Mhadeshwar (now with Exxon Mobil Corporation).

In 2011, Hom received a Department of Education GAANN fellowship to conduct his research. This summer, he also worked in a NSF REU Program at UConn to provide research guidance to a University of Michigan undergraduate student focusing on non-catalytic oxidation of diesel soot with O2 and NO2.