Episode 17 - Coffee and Cosmetics

Rossin Connection Podcast


James GilchristWhen COVID-19 derailed the summer internships of so many undergraduate students in 2020, Lehigh offered them a free, one-credit opportunity to do research with professors who had projects that could be done virtually. At first, James Gilchrist, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, was doubtful he could participate as his own research is experimental.

“But I was thinking, these students have so much to offer,” he says. “Why don’t we get a focus group of chemical engineering students together and ask them how we can make our program better?”

One of the solutions the students came up with is Coffee and Cosmetics: Engineering of Consumer Products. The class made its virtual debut in Spring 2021, and will be offered in person this fall to all undergraduates.

In this episode, Gilchrist tells us the story of how the class came to be, and how he himself came to a new realization of his role as a teacher. He also describes his research, and what’s so fascinating (really!) about how paint dries, and why getting more students excited about chemical engineering might just start with a cup of coffee.