Austin Gelinas & Pranavi Rebala Triumph in Clean Energy & Sustainability Innovation Challenge

Austin Gelinas ’25 (ENG), left, Pranavi Rebala ’25 (CLAS) present their research on an iterative approach to renewable energy transition during “The Sustainable Clean Energy Summit: Decarbonizing Society and the Grid” at the Student Union Theater on Oct. 4, 2023. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Warmest congratulations to Austin Gelinas and Pranavi Rebala, two brilliant undergraduate students from Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and College of Liberal Arts, respectively, who emerged as champions in the Clean Energy & Sustainability Innovation Challenge! They not only took the lead among six outstanding teams but also presented an ingenious strategy to reduce New England’s heavy reliance on natural gas.

Austin and Pranavi’s visionary approach demonstrates the incredible potential for positive change. Their two-part strategy not only sets a precedent for sustainable energy but also highlights the pivotal role UConn can play in this endeavor.

Read more on their Winning Project “Enhancing Connecticut’s Green Economy: Comprehensive Short and Long-Term Approach to Renewable Energy Transition” and the event on UConn Today.

Inspiring Story of our Ph.D. Student Laron Burrows

Laron BurrowsLaron Burrows, making remarkable strides in environmental innovation. His groundbreaking work focuses on cleaning up one of the world’s dirtiest chemical processes, ammonia production. Along with Prof. George Bollas, he has developed a new chemical looping reactor that is smaller, more efficient, and less expensive than traditional methods.

Laron is an entrepreneur at heart, and his startup company Andros will be competing in two major entrepreneurship challenges later this month. Best of luck to him!

Read the full article to learn more about Laron’s incredible journey and the impact they are making in UConn Today.

Dr. Stuber Appointed as the Pratt & Whitney Associate Professor in Advanced Systems Engineering

Matthew StuberWarmest congratulations to Dr. Matthew Stuber on his appointment as the Pratt & Whitney Associate Professor in Advanced Systems Engineering! 

Dr. Stuber’s dedication to excellence and tireless commitment to pushing the boundaries of knowledge have earned him this well-deserved recognition. His contributions to the field of advanced systems engineering have been nothing short of exceptional, and we are proud to have him as a part of our academic community. We eagerly anticipate the continued impact and contributions Dr. Stuber will make in this new role.

Dr. Laurencin Receives the Kathryn C. Hach Award from ACS

Cato LaurencinWarmest congratulations to Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, the recipient of the 2024 Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success as part of the 2024 ACS National Awards! This award recognizes Dr. Laurencin’s outstanding contributions to the world of entrepreneurship, innovation, and scientific leadership. His pioneering work in the field of regenerative engineering and tissue engineering has not only transformed the medical landscape but has also laid the foundation for groundbreaking entrepreneurial endeavors. Read more about Dr. Laurencin and other outstanding recipients of the 2024 ACS National Awards in the Chemical & Engineering News

Cho Awarded a $3M NIH Grant to Study Alzheimer’s Disease

Young ChoProfessor Yongku Cho has been awarded a $3M R01 grant from the National Institutes on Aging to study the tau protein in Alzheimer’s disease. The project will be a collaboration with Prof. Jesse Rinehart at Yale University and Prof. Lukasz Joachimiak at the University of Texas Southwest Medical. The overarching goal is to elucidate how phosphorylations and other protein modifications in the tau protein affect its toxicity and structure.

To study tau phosphorylation, they will use a synthetic biology approach to produce tau proteins with exact phosphorylation patterns in E. coli. Using this approach, they recently demonstrated that a single phosphorylation could impact the ability to assemble into potentially toxic forms that cause more aggregation in cells. Through this project, they aim to identify the molecular signature in the tau protein responsible for its toxicity in the brain.

Warmest congratulations to Dr. Cho on this remarkable accomplishment!

Zhou to Lead Clean Energy Engineering Efforts at UConn

Xiao-Dong Zhou We are thrilled to introduce and welcome Professor Xiao-Dong Zhou to our academic family as he takes on a pivotal role in leading our clean energy engineering efforts. As a UConn Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Faculty, Dr. Zhou will also serve as the Director of the UConn Center for Clean Energy Engineering (C2E2), a special advisor on sustainable energies to President Radenka Maric and Vice President for Research Pamir Alpay, the Nicholas E. Madonna Endowed Chair in Sustainability, and the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund Professor in Sustainable Energy. He will also hold joint appointments in the Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering departments.

Dr. Zhou comes to UConn from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette) where he served as the Stuller Endowed Chair in the Chemical Engineering Department and the director of the Institute for Materials Research and Innovations. In 2021, the Electrochemical Society named Zhou a Fellow for his efforts in clean energy innovations. Since 2017, Zhou has secured more than $23 million in grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Energy. Prior to UL Lafayette, Zhou worked as a professor of chemical engineering at the University of South Carolina where he was honored the prestigious J. Bruce Wagner, Jr. Young Investigator Award for demonstrating exceptional promise in the field of high-temperature energy, materials, and processes. 

For an in-depth look at Dr. Zhou’s remarkable journey and his vision for clean energy, check out the full UConn Today article here.

Join us in welcoming Dr. Zhou as he embarks on this exciting chapter of his career. His leadership and dedication will undoubtedly inspire our students and faculty, propelling us to new heights in the pursuit of knowledge and sustainable innovation.

Prof. Dan Burkey and Colleagues Win Himmelblau Award from AIChE

Dan Burkey PhotoProf. Daniel Burkey, Ph.D., M.A.Ed. has been selected as one of the winners of the prestigious David Himmelblau Award for Innovations in Computer-Based Chemical Engineering Education, sponsored by the Computing and Systems Technology Division (CAST) of AIChE.

Together with colleagues Cheryl Bodnar (Rowan University), Daniel Anastasio (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) and Matt Cooper (NC State University), Burkey is being recognized for his contributions to Contents Under Pressure, a digital immersive game that allows students to take on the role of a supervisor at a chemical production facility.

Contents Under Pressure gives students the opportunity to make decisions in a chemical plant that affect things like safety, productivity, and their own reputation and standing with their colleagues at the plant. The ultimate goal of the game is to get students to recognize the complexity of process safety judgements under realistic, real-world constraints and hopefully help them make better decisions as practicing engineers.

Contents Under Pressure was developed by the research team with funding from the National Science Foundation and in collaboration with educational games designer Filament Games. In addition to the Himmelblau award in 2023, Contents Under Pressure was also recognized at the 2022 International Serious Play Awards as a Silver Medalist.

Burkey and the rest of the team will accept the award at the CAST Division Dinner, to be held at the AIChE Annual Meeting in Orlando in November.

In addition to the 2023 Himmelblau Award, Prof. Burkey is also the recipient of the 2021 Corcoran Award from the Chemical Engineering Division of ASEE and the 2020 Award for Innovation in Chemical Engineering Education from the AICHE Education Division. He currently serves as the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education in the School of Engineering, and is a 2020 Inductee into the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering and a 2019 University Teaching Fellow.

Ozkan to Lead Engineering Education and Experimental Learning Initiative at UConn

Desen Ozkan recognizes that engineering is traditionally thought of as using math and science to solve problems in the world.

But what is missing from this definition—and the engineering curriculum—she says, are the contexts in which engineers interact in a world of political, social, and economic consequences.

“When engineering is portrayed as a field that encompasses various contexts and is influenced by social and technological factors, it can have a positive impact on the individuals who choose to pursue a career in engineering,” she said. “If engineers fail to consider the social and political aspects surrounding their work, they may unintentionally contribute to existing problems and inequalities.”

Ozkan, a new tenure-track assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering (CBE), will join the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering next fall. In addition to her own CBE scholarship and instruction, in the future, Ozkan will develop a preliminary curriculum for new initiatives in engineering education and experiential learning.

Read More @ Engineering News

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Celebrating Our Outstanding Graduate Students

The Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department would like to congratulate our graduate students on winning the 2023 Research Excellence, Travel, and Teaching Assistant Awards! Congratultions to all the winners! CBE Travel Award Recipients: Utsav Awasthi, Zahir Aghayev, Heejeong Ryu, Dorian Thompson, Chung-Hao Liu. CBE TA Award Recipients: Steven Tricarico, Dimitri Alston, Hasan Nikkhah. CBE Research Excellence Award Recipients: Heejeong Ryu, Utsav Awasthi, Robert Gottlieb. These students' achievements serve as an inspiration to fellow graduate students and demonstrate the incredible potential of our academic community.

Congratulations to Dr. Burcu Beykal

The Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department would like to congratulate CBE faculty member, Dr. Burcu Beykal on being invited to give a keynote speech at the Foundations of Computer Aided Process Design (FOCAPD) 2024 conference, which is one of the leading conference series in the field of chemical process design. For more information on FOCAPD 2024, please click here.