Virginia Tech: Invent the Future Department of Chemical Engineering


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Department of Chemical Engineering

The 2016-2017 Donald F. Othmer Sophomore Academic Excellence Award

Abigail Guillemart (right)

September 25, 2017     Congratulations to Abigail Guillemart, currently a chemical engineering junior, for receiving the 2016-2017 Donald F. Othmer Sophomore Academic Excellence Award. This distinguished and well deserved award is presented to a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in each student chapter who has attained the highest scholastic grade-point average during his/her freshman and sophomore years.

Department of Chemical Engineering

US patent issued to Professor Chang Lu

Cao and Lu  (right)

Aug 28, 2017     Dr. Chang Lu and his former student Zhenning Cao were recently issued a US patent (9,732,377) titled "Microfluidic systems and methods for chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)". The patent was on a novel microfluidic chromatin immunoprecipitation technology developed by Lu and Cao. The technology offered a superb capability for profiling genome-wide epigenomic features such as histone modifications using a tiny number of cells (as few as 100 cells). The results associated with the technology were first published in a 2015 Nature Methods paper.

Department of Chemical Engineering

Research demonstrates novel method of producing optimized polyester

Quanyou Feng (left) Rong Tong (right)

August 2017. The chemistry, known as photoredox ring-opening polymerization, has potential applications in preparing different biodegradable polyesters for plastic engineering or biomedical applications, for example.
Read the full story.

Department of Chemical Engineering

Graduate Student Awarded Research Funding

Wenhui Li

May 2017. Wenhui Li was selected to receive a Spring 2017 Graduate Research Development Program (GRDP) award based on her proposal "Solvent tuning on crystal structures and sizes of ligand-controlled synthesized colloidal Pd nanoparticles". The selection is made by the Virginia Tech Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) through peer reviews and the award consists of $1000 for her research. The GRDP is a program administered by the GSA to provide monetary support for degree contingent research conducted by Virginia Tech graduate students.

Wenhui is a third year PhD student working in Dr. Karim's group. Her PhD work focuses on understanding the role of ligands and solvents in the synthesis of colloidal Pd nanoparticles.

Department of Chemical Engineering

Lu group awarded $1.2M NIH grant to develop molecular analysis technology for cancer

Chang Lu

May 2017 Dr. Chang Lu received a NIH grant with a total of $1.2M from the Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies (IMAT) program of National Cancer Institute (NCI). In the next three years, the grant will support their effort on advanced development of microfluidic-oscillatory-washing-based chromatin immunoprecipitation or MOWChIP-seq technology for genome-scale examination of healthy and tumor samples. MOWChIP-seq was first published by Lu group in 2015 in a Nature Methods paper for profiling epigenomes using less than 100 cells.

This new R33 project will be conducted under a collaboration between Lu group and Dr. Rong Li's group at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Department of Chemical Engineering

Undergrads form Biomedical Startup

L/R: Tucker King, Juliana Downey, Elizabeth Rebholz and Kim Wyluda

April 2017. A team of four engineering seniors including three ChE students (Tucker King, Elisabeth Rebholz, and Kim Wyluda) and one ME student (Juliana Downey) have formed a biomedical startup called Tech Wound Solutions. The students, all pursuing biomedical engineering minors, have worked on the development of "Kare Powder", an active wound care product, and a business model as part of a special-topics course on biomedical entrepreneurship taught by Prof. Mark Van Dyke.
This past year, Tech Wound Solutions competed in a number of competitions. Their win at the ACC InVenture Prize @ Virginia Tech in November 2016 led them to compete in the regional ACC InVenture Prize @ Georgia Tech in March 2017. They placed second out of the fifteen ACC schools, bringing home $10,000 to put towards their project. More recently, they took home the People’s Choice Award at the VT KnowledgeWorks’ Global Challenge, winning $5,000 in scholarship money.

Read more

Department of Chemical Engineering

Research from Tong’s group highlighted in C&E News

Rong Tong (right)

April 2017. A recent publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society by postdoc Quanyou Feng and Assistant Professor Rong Tong has been highlighted in Chemical & Engineering News. Their work describes a new catalytic process for the synthesis of functional poly(α-hydroxy acid), or PAHA, from O-carboxyanhydride (OCA) monomers. The resulting PAHA polyesters are biodegradable polymers useful for a wide range of medical applications with biodegradable implants.
Read the full story.

Department of Chemical Engineering

Kelsey Niehoff wins VSGC scholarship for research in nanomaterial reinforced ultra high temperature ceramics

Dr. Bortner (ChE), Kelsey Niehoff , and Dr. Tallon (MSE)

Kelsey Niehoff is one of the recipients of the prestigious Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) Undergraduate STEM Research Scholarship for the 2017-2018 academic year. The VSGC Undergraduate STEM Research Scholarship Program provides scholarships to rising juniors and seniors in STEM fields who have a specific faculty-mentored research project that has NASA or aerospace relevance. Kelsey, advised by Dr. Bortner (ChE) and Dr. Tallon (MSE), is studying how the mechanical and thermal properties of porous ultra high temperature ceramics can be improved with nanomaterial reinforcements. Her research aligns with NASA's Space Technology mission directorate through applications such as re-entry and hypersonic vehicles.

Department of Chemical Engineering: Liu

Virginia Tech AIChE® Student Chapter Hosts Process Safety Boot Camp

April 2017 Virginia Tech AIChE® Student Chapter Hosts Process Safety Boot Camp The Virginia Tech Student Chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) hosted a two-day Process Safety Boot Camp for Students, March 25–26, at the Inn at Virginia Tech. The workshop, conducted by AIChE's Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), was part of AIChE's Undergraduate Process Safety Learning Initiative - a major global effort to ensure that all chemical engineering graduates possess a working knowledge of process safety principles when they enter the workforce. The initiative is a core priority of the AIChE Foundation's Doing a World of Good campaign, and was generously funded by Founders' Circle members: Dow, Chevron, LyondellBasell, DuPont, Eastman, and Univar, along with other corporate supporters.

Chandler Culley, President of the Virginia Tech Student Chapter, reflected on the weekend, saying, "We were honored to have been selected out of more than 200 AIChE student chapters to host the AIChE-CCPS student boot camp in late March." She noted that the workshop focused on chemical process safety management and was attended by 40 seniors selected from the chemical process design class.

Culley added that the training opportunity "is a great example of how much the Virginia Tech Chemical Engineering Department recognizes the importance of process safety in industry." Since 2014, 100% of chemical engineering graduates from Virginia Tech have participated in the Safety and Chemical Engineering Education (SAChE) Certificate Program, consisting of online safety training courses provided to undergraduates by AIChE and CCPS. Virginia Tech's involvement in the program is led by chemical engineering professor, Y. A. Liu.

The Virginia Tech Student Chapter was chosen to host the AIChE/CCPS workshop based on its Outstanding Student Chapter status within AIChE, its award-winning record in the AIChE competition for safety in process design, its standing as a top participating university in online process safety training certification, and support from sponsor companies. "This boot camp was a great extension to the online SAChE courses, and gave seniors valuable process safety knowledge useful for leading into our fast approaching careers," Culley said. "On behalf of Virginia Tech AIChE, we would like to sincerely thank the industry speakers, Scott Berger and Frank Renshaw, for sharing their 30 years of experiences and their on-going commitment to process safety."

Boot camp instructor Frank Renshaw stated, "It was a personally rewarding and enjoyable experience to spend the weekend with Scott Berger and the Virginia Tech students in the boot camp. The class was engaged, punctual, and openly appreciative of AIChE's outreach in process safety management."

Department of Chemical Engineering

College of Engineering inducts members into the Academy of Engineering Excellence

Horacio and Amy Valeiras
March 2017.

Horacio Valeiras received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering as a member of the Class of 1980.

Following his graduation from Virginia Tech, Horacio Valeiras went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of California, Berkeley to earn his master’s degree in chemical engineering and M.B.A., respectively. After graduating, Valeiras joined First Boston Corporation as an equity research analyst covering European technology companies.

Once involved in the capital markets, Valeiras was hooked, and later continued his work at Credit Suisse First Boston as an international strategist. In 1992, he became a partner at Miller, Anderson & Sherrerd, a Philadelphia-based money management firm with $33 billion under its control until it was acquired by Morgan Stanley in 1996. It was at this point that Valeiras became managing director for Morgan Stanley Investment Management, until 2002, when he took on the role of chief investment officer at Nicholas Applegate Capital Management.

Seven years later, Valeiras took on the same role at Allianz Global Investors, where he stayed until becoming managing partner of HAV Capital LLC in 2012.

In addition to his role at HAV Capital LLC, Valeiras serves as the member of several boards, including Virginia Tech's Board of Visitors and the Association of Governing Board of Colleges and Universities. Previously, Valeiras served as board chairman of the Virginia Tech Foundation.

Written by Erica Corder

Department of Chemical Engineering

Owens wins Class of 1954 Odyssey Fellowship

James Owens (left) and Dr. Michael Bortner (right)
March 2017.

James Owens, a sophomore in Chemical Engineering, was named the 2017 Class of 1954 Odyssey Fellow by the Virginia Tech Honors College. One of six fellowships awarded by the college each year, the Class of 1954 Odyssey Fellowship provides outstanding Honors students with unusual and interdisciplinary opportunities extending far beyond the classroom during their last two years of undergraduate study. Jim received a fellowship to cover up to $10,000 of his travel experience and university tuition.

Jim's undergraduate research has focused on multiple aspects of energy that he plans to leverage for his Odyssey experience. He worked on solar cell research during an REU at Drexel University in Summer 2016, and is now currently researching conductive transparent electrodes with Dr. Michael Bortner who also served as his faculty mentor throughout the selection process. Jim will use the fellowship to travel to South Africa and Denmark during the Summer of 2018 to conduct energy poverty research at the University of Cape Town and to study the economic and political factors affecting energy distribution.

Department of Chemical Engineering

A new model published in Physical Review Letters aims to unlock catalytic powers of gold

Hongliang Xin

March 2017
Prof. Hongliang Xin and his postdoc Dr. Xianfeng Ma authored the article "Orbitalwise Coordination Number for Predicting Adsorption Properties of Metal Nanocatalysts" in the Physical Review Letters. This new model challenges the conventional wisdom of the standard d-band model, and can potentially predict just the right formula of gold catalysts to achieve a desired outcome for a given chemical reaction. You can read more at VTNews and This work is mainly funded by the National Science Foundation Catalysis Program and partially supported by the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Virginia Tech Department of Chemical Engineering is to educate students to become outstanding chemical engineers who possess all of the skills necessary to excel in an advanced, global society; to conduct innovative and beneficial research while training students to be the researchers of the future; and to provide service and expertise to the chemical engineering profession and society.

Chemical Engineering Program Outcomes and Objectives

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