A message from Mayuresh Kothare, R. L. McCann Professor and Chair, ChBE

Welcome to the Fall 2019 newsletter of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) at Lehigh University.

With the AIChE Annual Meeting concluding and the fall semester in full swing, we have exciting developments in support of our department’s mission.

We are delighted to announce that Prof. Elsa Reichmanis will join our department in Fall 2020 as the Carl R. Anderson Endowed Chair. Prof. Reichmanis, currently at the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering of the Georgia Institute of Technology, is a member of NAE and fellow of MRS, ACS and has a long and distinguished record of accomplishments in recognition of her research. Her research focuses on the chemistry, properties and application of materials for photonic and electronic applications, with particular focus on polymeric and nanostructured materials. 

In the calendar year 2019, three of our faculty—Professors Baltrusatis, Brown and Schultz—were promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure. We are looking forward with great anticipation to the growth and exciting research output coming from their groups in the coming years.

Departmental faculty research continued to create impact. Prof. Bill Schiesser, the Emeritus McCann Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is the winner this year of the David Himmelblau Award for Innovations in Computer-based Chemical Engineering Education which is jointly given by the AIChE Computing and Systems Technology (CAST) Division and the Computer Aids for Chemical Engineering Education (CACHE) Corporation. The award recognizes "an individual or group making new and novel contributions to computer aids for chemical engineering education." Prof. Israel Wachs’ work on vanadia catalysts was highlighted on the cover of Angewandte Chemie while the work of Prof. Steve McIntosh (ChBE) and Prof. Chris Kiely (MatSci) on biomineralization to split water appeared on the cover of Green Chemistry. Several high visibility papers were generated by the group of Prof. Jeetain Mittal and appeared in Science Advances, Nature Communications, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. And Prof. Kelly Schultz received this year's Libsch Early Career Research Award at Lehigh for her work in the area of rheology, in particular, at the interdisciplinary junction between stem-cell biology and its interaction with micro-particle gel rheology. 

Several of our faculty members have secured grants to continue to elevate their research. Prof. Anand Jagota, in collaboration with Cornell and Michelin, received multiple research grants that included a $2 million NSF GOALI grant. NIH R15 and NSF GOALI grants were awarded to Prof. Kelly Schultz. NSF EAGER, NSF GOALI, and a new collaborative grant with the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins were obtained by Prof. James Gilchrist. An NSF Systems/Synthetic Biology grants was secured by Prof. Javier B. Fernandez, and multiple DOE/DLA SBIR/STTR grants were awarded to Prof. Jonas Baltrusaitis.

ChBE alumni, the greatest products of our programs, have earned national and international spotlight. Among them, Dr. Dan Roxbury, who earned his B.S. and PhD degrees at Lehigh (jointly supervised by Prof. Anand Jagota, and Prof. Jeetain Mittal) has received an NSF CAREER award. He is currently Assistant Prof. of Chemical Engineering at the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Srinivas Mettu (PhD with Prof. Manoj Chaudhury) has received a collaborative grant from the Gates Foundation (his second grant so far from Gates) to study "Hydrogel Bio-Reactor for Growing Multiple Strains of Human Gut Microbes." Dr. Chris Jewel was named as a Fellow of AIMBE, and received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) Award. PECASE is given to a select very small subset of NSF CAREER award winners based on program officer recommendations, and the winners are recognized by the President in a private ceremony.

Among other news items, an endowment fund was established for the Costel Denson Distinguished Lectureship in honor of the late Dr. Costel Denson, the first African American student at Lehigh (BS, CHE, 1956) and former professor of Chemical Engineering, interim dean, and VP of research at University of DelawareThe endowment will support an annual distinguished lecture—our inaugural speaker in the Denson lectures series that began in Spring 2019 was Prof. Tunde Ogunnaike from the University of Delaware.  We are also grateful to the Stallings family for providing us with funds for lab renovation through a gift from the Fred and Mabel Parks Foundation.

From all of us in the department, we wish you a productive Fall 2019. Please drop us an e-mail with comments—we are always delighted to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Mayuresh Kothare
R. L. McCann Professor and Chair
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Jonas Baltrusaitis
Associate Professor and ChBE Newsletter Editor
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Mayuresh V. Kothare, R. L. McCann Professor and Chair, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering