Spring ’22 saw the retirement of Professor Kemal Tuzla of the department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Kemal came to Lehigh in 1981 on sabbatical from the Technical University of Istanbul—and never left
Spring ’22 saw the retirement of Professor Kemal Tuzla as a Professor of Practice and Associate Chair in the department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Kemal came to Lehigh on September 1, 1981 from the Technical University of Istanbul to spend two years of sabbatical, "a sabbatical that lasted over four decades" says Tuzla. He ultimately joined John C. Chen’s research group, where his initial years were solely research involved with heat transfer problems relative to nuclear reactor safety and heat transfer in fluidized beds. During the late ’80s, his involvements shifted to departmental teaching activities while still heavy in research. In 1991, Tuzla was the main facilitator of the Unit Operations (UOPs) Laboratory relocation to the mountaintop campus and subsequent renovations. By 1995, he assumed full responsibility as Director of the UOPs Lab teachings and operations; adding numerous new experiments throughout the years. At the beginning of 2003, Tuzla assumed the position of Associate Chair, a position which he served till his 2022 retirement.
Tuzla's career has provided him with an extensive list of honors, and teaching experiences; 49 published articles in referred journals, 54 conference presentations, and the RCEAS Teaching Excellence Award are just a few highlights of this vast portfolio. During the 2000’s, he was involved in research on High Temperature Solar Thermal Energy Storage, where phase change materials were used. Most recently to add to his list of accomplishments, a departmental retirement gathering was held at the end of the semester where Tuzla was presented with a plaque commemorating the naming of The Agitated Vessel Heat Transfer Experiment located in the UOPs Lab on mountaintop campus in his honor.
When asked to reflect on his time at Lehigh for what he will miss most, he answers without hesitation “The students. Every ChBE student is a great student”. The appreciation is likewise felt amongst students and alums who recall their memorable times with Tuzla throughout his years of service.
  • “I don’t know where I would be today if it wasn’t for the support and compassion he showed me”.
  • “Prof. Tuzla always had faith in me, even when I lost faith in myself”.
  • “My Lehigh experience would have been completely different without his guidance”.
  • “I am a Chemical Engineer because of Prof. Tuzla’s patience, kindness, and influence”.
While Tuzla held many positions over his incredible 41-year tenure at Lehigh, his legacy of positive impact on the students and educational mission of the ChBE department will last for many years going forward.