The WPI Chemical Engineering Class of 2020 had to deal with unprecedented conditions to finish their degrees this year. Their hard work, dedication, and perserverance saw them through. This year, students made videos of their Major Qualifying Projects. Check them out here. Congratulations to you all!
Who we are
We work hard to shape scientific minds in a familial, friendly, tight-knit atmosphere. You’ll be made to feel welcome from the very first day, forming strong bonds with your professors and fellow students that will benefit you professionally and personally.
What we do
In focused research groups, students and faculty within WPI’s Chemical Engineering Department go beyond the classroom to solve real-world problems, continuing to make discoveries in areas like environmental protection, renewable energy, and life sciences, through research and development of new technologies, processes, and materials.
Eric Young awarded NSF CAREER Grant
Eric Young, the Leonard P. Kinnicutt Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, was awarded a prestigious NSF CAREER grant for his project "A Red Yeast Cell Factory." The five year award will enable the bioengineering of basidiomycetes, a group of fungi essential to many important biological processes yet lacking tools available for other yeast.
Dr. Young works in synthetic biology, a new field at the intersection of engineering and biology. His research focuses on developing new yeast "cell factories" for production of fuels, chemicals, and therapies as well as biosecurity technology needed to control release of genetically engineered organisms. He also knows a bit about growing yeast at home!
Andrew Teixeira awarded NSF CAREER Grant
Andrew Teixeira, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, was awarded a prestigious NSF CAREER grant for his project entitled "Nitrogen Activation: Splitting Kinetic Cycles and Breaking Energetic Barriers with Pulsed Catalysis." The five year award will develop a new catalytic strategy for overcoming thermodynamic and kinetic barriers by dynamically operating a catalytic cycle at various temperatures and thermodynamic environments.
Dr. Teixeira works in reaction engineering, a core chemical engineering discipline. His research utilizes fundamental reaction engineering principles to unlock the mysteries driving kinetic and catalytic systems.
Article by WPI Chemical Engineers selected for 2019 Green Chemistry HOT Article
A recent article by WPI researchers was selected as a 2019 Green Chemistry HOT article. The paper, authored by WPI graduate student Maksim Tyufekchiev and Associate Professor Mike Timko, was performed in collaboration with researchers at Brandeis University and Washington University in St. Louis. Congratulations!
Mike Timko on designing bioreactors for supercritical CO2
Associate Professor Mike Timko's collaborative work with researchers at MIT was recently published in Nature Communications. The paper, titled "Engineered microbial biofuel production and recovery under supercritical carbon dioxide," describes organism engineering and separations processes to produce biofuels in supercritical CO2. Congratulations to Professor Timko, his research team, and collaborators on this innovative work!
Professor Susan Zhou on Designing Biosensors
Researchers in the lab of Professor Hong Susan Zhou are developing a biosensor that doctors and nurses can use to quickly detect Clostridium difficile, a dangerous and sometimes fatal gastrointestinal infection. The work is funded by the National Science Foundation.
Professor Kazantzis works to improve process safety and sustainability
Professor Nikolaos K. Kazantzis in the Department of Chemical Engineering received a grant to reduce environmental and health consequences of gas flares. Kazantzis is focused on developing technology to use the excess gas as a fuel source, instead of burning it, and to further minimize emissions from the combustion process by re-designing the overall flare system.
Professor Kazantzis recently co-authored a paper titled "Incorporation of Safety and Sustainability in Conceptual Design via a Return on Investment Metric" in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. The article received the 2018 Paper Award from the Sustainable Engineering Forum (SEF), a Division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) focusing on sustainability-relevant engineering science and practices. Congratulations Professor Kazantzis!
Mike Timko putting "Red Mud" to work, converting food waste into biofuels
In a high-profile paper, among the top ten articles published in the open-access journal Energies, Michael Timko, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, discusses work by a team of colleagues to greatly improve the yield of oil from the waste food conversion process while also improving efficiencies. The work featured a tem of WPI graduate students and an MQP group. The work is funded by the Department of Energy.
Professor Timko is also collaborating with Erin Ottmar, Asst. Professor of Psychology and Learning Sciences, and V. J. Manzo Asst. Professor of Music Technology and Cognition collaborated to make data-driven music. This STEM program connects young students to complex, hard to visualize concepts through sound.
Professor Deskins - Molecular modeling for the future of energy
Professor Deskins, in collaboration with WPI Mechanical Engineering Professor Pratap Rao, received funding to train clean energy innovators.
Professors Deskins and Rao also were awarded NSF funding to increase the efficiency of catalysts for the production and utilization of carbon-free or carbon-neutral fuels via electrical-to-chemical and solar-to-chemical processes. Professor Deskins, in collaboration with Professor Xiaowei Teng at the University of New Hampshire, is also funded to develop efficient, cleaner methods to produce hydrogen, a valuable fuel and chemical feedstock.
Dean Terri Camesano receives Fulbright Scholarship
Terri Camesano, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Dean of Graduate Studies, received a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. Sara Olson, a WPI faculty in Mathematical Sciences, was also awarded. Congratulations to both professors! Read more here.
Professor Roberts on improving anticancer drug production
Department of Chemical Engineering Professor Sue Roberts, Department Head, was recently highlighted in the Worcester Telegram! The new genetic engineering technique developed by her research group could improve plant cell based production of the important anticancer drug paclitaxel (Taxol). For more, see the WPI News article associated with the research.
Professor Datta demonstrates new membrane technology for hydrogen fuel cells
Separation membranes hold the key to making hydrogen fuel cheaper; in a pioneering study, the researchers show that membranes made with liquid metals appear to be more efficient at separating hydrogen than conventional palladium membranes while also being less expensive and more durable. Read more here!
Fostering the Entrepreneurial Mindset in STEM
Chemical Engineering Professor David DiBiasio and colleagues at WPI with sponsorship from the KERN Foundation are leading efforts to introduce entrepreneurial training into WPI’s STEM curricula and project based learning.
Chemical Engineering Students Win Crimson and Gray Awards
Chemical Engineering students Ashley Choi, '19; Maggie Kuck, '19; and Liv Verdone, '19 are winners of the 2019 Crimson and Gray Award. The award recognizes outstanding student leaders who have made significant contributions to improve the quality of life and community at WPI. Congratulations Ashley, Maggie, and Liv!
Chemical Engineering Students Win Institute Outstanding Women Awards
Chemical Engineering students Amparo Cosio, '20 and Mbolle Akume, '20 were awarded the Bonnie-Blanche Schoonover Award for Outstanding Women, and Rosa Reynoso, ‘20 was awarded the Marietta E. Anderson Award for Outstanding Women. Both awards recognize women students for their academic excellence, professional goals, and contributions to the WPI community. Congratulations Amparo, Mbolle, and Rosa!!
Thang Pham wins Best Presentation
Thang Pham, an undergraduate in our research group, won the “Best Presentation Computation and Theory” presentation at the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium at Rice University. Congratulations Thang!
Donald Dione wins President's IQP Award!
Students Kylie Dickinson, Donald Dione (Chemical Engineering), Sarah St. Pierre, and Tyler Weiss, advised by Leslie Dodson and Robert Hirsch, won the 2019 President's IQP Award for "Reducing Flood Risk in Shkodra through Community Engagement." Congratulations!!
WPI Students win National AIChE Awards
Emily Whittles, class of 2021, has been awarded the 2017-18 Freshman Recognition Award for the WPI student chapter based on her leadership and involvement in the chapter during her freshman year.
Trent Jones, class of 2020, has been awarded the 2017-18 Donald F. Othmer Sophomore Academic Excellence Award for the WPI chapter based on his high academic standing and his involvement in the chapter.
Celeste Marsan, class of 2019, has been awarded the prestigious 2017-2018 Donald F. & Mildred Topp Othmer Scholarship Award. She is one of 15 students to receive this nationally and is awarded based on the combination of her high academic standing and her leadership within AIChE.
Congratulations to each of you!
WPI Students attend NSBE 44
The WPI Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers attended NSBE44 in Pittsburgh, PA in March. Several outstanding WPI ChE students attended. WPI NSBE members got a lot out of the conference, a handful of them securing interviews and learning a lot from the variety of workshops!
The CBC Radio program Quirks & Quarks spoke with Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering Michael Timko about his research to have ships remove plastic waste from the world’s oceans, and then chemically convert that waste into fuel that could power the plastic-collecting ships. Timko says this could significantly reduce the emissions associated with efforts to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.
Chemical Engineering Professor Michael Timko spoke with U.S. News & World Report about the future of hydrogen energy. “I think that societally, we're just entranced with this silver bullet thinking… you’re hoping that each one's the perfect solution, when in fact, you're probably going to need a layered approach – lots of different solutions for different applications,” said Timko.