Grad Student Spotlight: David Gamliel

By Sydney Souder

Graduate students have many reasons to choose UConn, from conducting research in world class facilities, to a welcoming learning environment, and no shortage of school pride (not everyone wins dual National Championships in basketball).

“Don’t go anywhere else!” says second year PhD student David Gamliel of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Graduate Program. David hails from Amherst, Mass., and received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from UMass Amherst, but his decision to pursue his PhD in Storrs was simple.

“I picked UConn because I was really interested in energy engineering, and I enjoyed the orientation. I am very lucky I ended up at the Center for Clean and Energy Engineering (C2E2),” he says.

David’s faculty advisor is Dr. Julia Valla. His research focus involves converting biomass into energy through pyrolysis. Pyrolysis, which occurs when biomass is brought to elevated temperatures without oxygen, produces an array of useful chemicals. Some of these are the same as those found in gasoline. David is studying the best operating conditions for pyrolysis, and how small scale microreactors can be scaled up to maximize the conversion of biomass to useful products.

“I feel like I am doing meaningful and impactful research,” he says of his work, which can be viewed at “The level of independence given to me as a student researcher was beyond my expectations.”

Another advantage of studying at UConn, David adds, “I really enjoy the opportunities to travel and present my research.” He presented at the ACS Conference in March, and attended the Energy and Fuels section dinner, a great networking event. This November he will present a poster and give a lecture at AIChE in Atlanta.

David is involved outside of the lab, too. He is the treasurer of the Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association, and participates in outreach work. As a GK12 fellow, David shares weekly lessons about science, math and engineering at Wolcott Technical High School in Torrington, Connecticut. He is also an outreach ambassador for C2E2, and has participated in the Joule fellowship program.

“I would like to go into industry,” says David, “But I am still open to the idea of becoming a professor. “