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Department of Chemical Engineering

Xiwen Zhang successfully defends her MS Thesis


Congratulations to Xiwen Zhang for completing her degree requirements and successfully defending her MS Thesis. Xiwen is advised by Dr. Ayman Karim. Her thesis was entitled "Structure Sensitivity of Alkane Hydrogenolysis Reactions on Ir/MgAl2O4 Catalysts."
We wish Xiwen the best in her PhD studies.

Department of Chemical Engineering

Congratulations to Andy Ford for successfully defending his PhD dissertation


Congratulations to Andy Ford for completing his degree requirements and successfully defending his PhD dissertation. Andy was advised by Dr. Padma Rajagopalan. His dissertation was entitled "Investigating the Interplay between Inflammation and Matrix Stiffness: Evaluation of Cell Phenotype and Cytoplasmic Stiffness In Vitro.
We wish Dr. Andy Ford the best in his future

Department of Chemical Engineering: Erdogan Kiran

Kiran Group presents at 12th, International Symposium on Supercritical Fluids

Mick Williams, James Dickmann, Jenna Sumey, Joseph Sarver, and Scott Holahan
(left to right)

Five members of the Supercritical Fluids laboratory of professor Erdogan Kiran each gave poster presentations at the 12th International Symposium on Supercritical Fluids held in Antibes, France. The symposium brings together the leading researchers in the field of supercritical fluids every three years. The symposium focused on commercialization of supercritical fluids technologies with oral presentations given by industrial and academic professionals.

Department of Chemical Engineering

A green approach to ammonia production published in Nat. Commun.

Prof. Hongliang Xin (left) and his postdoc Dr. Liang Yu

May 2018
Prof. Hongliang Xin and his postdoc Dr. Liang Yu with his collaborators at University of Central Florida have authored the article “Ambient ammonia synthesis via palladium-catalyzed electrohydrogenation of dinitrogen at low overpotential” in the Nature Communications. The team has developed a new approach that can facilitate ammonia production using renewable energy, such as electricity generated from solar or wind. A new mechanism via the catalyst of palladium hydride was discovered. You can read more at The computational work is partially supported by the National Science Foundation Catalysis Program and the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund.

Department of Chemical Engineering

ChE alumnus Kirk H. Schulz (BS ’86; PhD ’91) was inducted into the College of Engineering Academy of Engineering Excellence on April 26, 2018.

Kirk Schulz (center) inducted into Academy of Engineering Excellence.
Dr. Cox (left) and Dean Ross (right)

photos by Jack Beach

April 2018     After graduation, Kirk Schulz joined the University of North Dakota as an assistant professor of chemical engineering before moving to Michigan Technological University, where he later became associate professor and department chair of chemical engineering. In 2001, he became director of the Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering at Mississippi State University, then served as dean of the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering and vice president for research and economic development at MSU. In 2009, Schulz was named president of and professor of chemical engineering at Kansas State University. In 2016, Schulz joined Washington State University as the president and professor of chemical engineering.

Schulz has served on various higher education boards such as the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities Board of Directors and the NCAA Board of Governors (including a two-year term as chair). Schulz is a Fellow of the American Society of Engineering Education and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Complete article

Department of Chemical Engineering

Difference in gene switching discovered in different parts of the brain

Ma and Lu  (right)

April 2018     In a study published in Science Advances, Chang Lu and his team found significant difference in the molecular machinery that turns on and off gene expression between the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex of a mouse brain. Their results provide clues to the molecular apparatus that is involved in conscious thinking in brains.

Complete article

Department of Chemical Engineering

Postdoc Quanyou Feng and Assistant Professor Rong Tong published a paper in Nature Communication online

Quanyou and Rong Tong (r)

April 2018. Postdoc Quanyou Feng (first author) and Assistant Professor Rong Tong's paper "Stereoselective photoredox ring-opening polymerization of O-carboxyanhydrides" was published in Nature Communications. Their work describes a new catalytic process for the synthesis of stereoregular functional polyesters. The resulting polyesters are biodegradable polymers with improved physicochemical properties (e.g., thermal properties) that have not been achieved before.

Department of Chemical Engineering

Congratulations to graduating senior Camilla (Erin) Johnson!

Camilla (Erin) Johnson
In addition to being recognized as the Chemical Engineering Senior of the Year for 2018, graduating senior Camilla (Erin) Johnson was awarded the Graduate Education for Minorities (GEM) fellowship and an NSF graduate research fellowship. With these awards, she will begin pursuing a PhD in the fall at Georgia Tech. Camilla has been actively involved in mentorship and outreach through Hypatia Living Learning Community, Alpha Phi Omega, and Summer Academy, and has twice done outreach work in Panama with Score International.
She is from Richmond, VA.

Department of Chemical Engineering

Jake Fallon received the inaugural Garth L. Wilkes MII Interdisciplinary Student Scholar award

Jake Fallon recently received the inaugural Garth L. Wilkes MII Interdisciplinary Student Scholar award presented at the 2018 MII Technical Conference and Review. The Garth L. Wilkes Interdisciplinary Scholar Awards are named in honor of Professor Garth L. Wilkes, who was an internationally-recognized interdisciplinary scholar, faculty colleague, and personal friend to many people around the world. This coveted scholarship is presented to a graduate student who represents interdisciplinary excellence in research, teaching, and engagement.
Jake is a Macromolecular Science and Engineering student advised by Dr. Michael J. Bortner in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Department of Chemical Engineering: ChE-car

Virginia Tech Chem-E-Car Wins Third Place the AICHE Mid-Atlantic Student Meeting

Team Members of the VT Chem-E-Car Team 2018
Department of Chemical Engineering
Virginia Tech

The Virginia Tech Chem-E-Car team competed in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Competition held as part of the AICHE Mid-Atlantic Student Meeting held at Princeton University. The competition requires students to design and build a small autonomous vehicle whose propulsion system and control mechanism rely on chemical reactions. The goal is for the car to travel a defined distance and stop without outside intervention. The VT car, nicknamed the Meme-machine, relied on a student-built lead acid battery to drive an electric motor. The stopping mechanism relied on a Cinnemaldehyde clock reaction in which an opaque solid precipitate forms in the reactor after a specific length of time which depended on reactant concentrations and temperature. A photodiode detects the formation of the solid and switches off the motor.

The team gratefully acknowledges the technical support of the VT Chemical Engineering Staff, as well as financial support from the Student Engineers Council, Zestron, Exxon-Mobil, and Steve Cope.

Department of Chemical Engineering: Erdogan Kiran

Joey Sarver received recognition at the 34th Annual Graduate Student Assembly Research Symposium.

Joey Sarver

ChE graduate student Joey Sarver received recognition at the 34th Annual Graduate Student Assembly Research Symposium. His poster titled "Foaming of Polymers with Supercritical Carbon Dioxide" was one of six posters receiving an award from 44 posters presented by graduate students throughout the university. He is conducting research in the Supercritical Fluids Laboratory of Professor Kiran.

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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