Dear Students, Alumni and Friends,
In the same year as the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing (Apollo 11 mission), I welcome everyone back to a brand new academic year!
I am very pleased to welcome Distinguished Research Professor Abbas Firoozabadi (NAE) and Research Professor Glen C. Irvin Jr., who bring decades of experience in the areas of energy and materials to our Department. Dr. Dilip Asthagiri received promotion to Associate Research Professor, reflecting his well-regarded achievements in chemical and biological physics, as applied to energy and biomolecular engineering problems. In addition, we welcomed faculty from other Departments as joint members in the past year: Pedro Alvarez (CEVE Dept, NAE); Christy Landes (CHEM Dept); Joff Silberg (BIOS Dept); and Junghae Suh (BIOE Dept). We also welcome Maria Salgado and Angie Smith as new staff members.
At the 106th Commencement Ceremony this past May, 53 BS/BA, 10 MCHE/MS, and 20 PhD degree holders received their hard-earned degrees. Females make up ~43% of our advanced degree holders and ~30% of our bachelor degrees awarded. Eight graduating CHBE's were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa (ΦBK), which honors "outstanding achievement in the liberal arts and sciences, in courses that reflect a breadth of intellectual interest and a love of learning for its own sake", by far the most number from any Engineering Department. Well-rounded indeed!
The Riki Kobayashi Award honors the best thesis proposal from among the second-year PhD students. Following the presentations made in spring and summer 2018, the committee this past year named Jordan Shivers as the award recipient for his thesis “mechanics of semiflexible polymer network materials”. Jordan is advised by Prof. Fred MacKintosh. Congratulations Jordan! This year, the department will institute a new graduate student award. The Sunit Patel ’85 Endowed Fellowship will be awarded based on research accomplishments in pursuit of the PhD, nominally after their third year in residence.
My faculty and I were delighted to host prominent visitors as recipients of our department's named Lectureships: Paul Nealey from U. Chicago (Leland Lecture), Chaitin Khosla from Stanford (Wilbur Lecture) and Ed Emmett, former Harris County judge (Chevron Lecture on Energy). These Lectureships bring prominent leaders to speak on topics of general importance to the chemical engineering community and to the general public.
Finally, I am extra happy to announce that the new CHBE Undergraduate Teaching Laboratory is open for business this fall! Located in Keck Hall (Room 108), the CHBE UG Lab is ~50% larger than our former space in Abercrombie Lab. It has new instrumentation, facilities, and equipment for our lab courses CHBE 343 and 443, which allows new pedagogy to be used for the first time. The juniors and seniors have ample opportunities to learn chemical engineering concepts important not only in the chemical industry, but also in the areas of materials & nanotechnology, biomolecular engineering, and energy & sustainability.
All the best for a super year!
Michael S. Wong