Goddard Hall 014
BS Chemical Engineering Ohio State University Honors and Distinction 1998
MS Chemical Engineering Practice Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 2001
PhD Chemical Engineering Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 2004
Postdoc Harvard University 2004-2006

Sharing that “ah hah” moment with a student struggling and suddenly mastering a difficult concept; helping expand the intellectual horizons of an aspiring engineer; tackling and solving problems that challenge the energy, economic, and environmental security with passionate students; sharing my passion for engineering science: these are the reasons that I am a professor of chemical engineering. WPI students understand the importance of translating their engineering talents into technologies and knowledge that benefit others. My role is to light the fire and open new doors for budding engineers.

The stereotypical view of a scientist or engineer is as a solitary figure, toiling away in the lab. And, if this were true, I’d never have become an engineer because nothing could be further from the truth. I thrive on interactions with my colleagues and students – especially students. I enjoy “talking shop”, whether it be to solve a specific problem we’ve encountered in the lab, to thrash out the details of a new technology, or to take a step back and consider the broader implications and context of our work. Interaction with talented, passionate people who have a different view points and skills than I have is what drives me in this field.

My research interests include the studying the environmental and engineering aspects of clean energy technologies, with a specific emphasis on liquid transportation fuels. Liquid transportation fuels are derived nearly exclusively from petroleum resources – these resources are finite, distributed un-evenly around the world, and their combustion contributes to many different environmental problems. My work involves studying the fundamental chemical engineering science – including transport, phase behavior, and reactor design – to develop new technologies for converting under-utilized energy resources into fuels and chemicals. Specific problems of interest are ones that combine concepts from various sub-disciplines – such as phase equilibria and reaction mechanism analysis – into an integrated process technology. I firmly believe that solving the truly pressing technology problems of the 21st century will require cross-disciplinary collaboration – engineers, chemists, physicists, biologists, etc. Incorporating imaginative collaborations into my work has been and will continue to be a driving force.

Industry Experience:

  • 2019-present: William B. Smith Fellow and Dean of Engineering Chair, Chemical Engineering Department, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA
  • 2018-present: Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering Department, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA
  • 2013-2018: Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering Department, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA
  • 2010-2013: Research Engineer & Director of Desulfurization Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
  • 2009-2013: Principal Engineer, Aerodyne Research Inc., Center for Aero-Thermodynamics, Billerica, MA
  • 2006-2009: Senior Engineer, Aerodyne Research Inc., Center for Aero-Thermodynamics, Billerica, MA

Visit Digital WPI to view student projects advised by Professor Timko

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

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SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

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SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

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SDG 14: Life Below Water

SDG 14: Life Below Water - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

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Scholarly Work

Professor Timko’s research focuses on clean energy technologies, in particular liquid transportation fuels and integrated process technology to address reliance on petroleum-based products and the human and environmental risks they pose.

Featured articles:

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Cheng, F., Tompsett, G. A., Fraga Alvarez, D. V., Romo, C. I., McKenna, A. M., Niles, S. F., Nelson, R. K., Reddy, C. M., Granados-Fócil, S., Paulsen, A. D., Zhang, R., & Timko, M. T. (2021). Metal oxide supported Ni-impregnated bifunctional catalysts for controlling char formation and maximizing energy recovery during catalytic hydrothermal liquefaction of food waste. Sustainable Energy & Fuels, 5(4),941–955.

Belden, E. R., Kazantzis, N. K., Reddy, C. M., Kite-Powell, H., Timko, M. T., Italiani, E., & Herschbach, D. R. (2021). Thermodynamic feasibility of shipboard conversion of marine plastics to blue diesel for selfpowered ocean cleanup. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(46), e2107250118.

Ekwe, N. B., Tyufekchiev, M. V., Salifu, A. A., Tompsett, G. A., LeClerc, H. O., Belden, E. R., Onche, E. O., Ates, A., Schmidt-Rohr, K., Yuan, S., Zheng, Z., Soboyejo, W. O., & Timko, M. T. (2022). Mechanochemical Pretreatment for Waste-Free Conversion of Bamboo to Simple Sugars: Utilization of Available Resources for Developing Economies. Advanced Sustainable Systems, n/a(n/a), 2100286.

Zhang, Z., Tompsett, G. A., Granados-Focil, S., Lambert, C. R., & Timko, M. T. (2021). Rational design of solid-acid catalysts for cellulose hydrolysis using colloidal theory. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 23(17), 10236–10243.

Professional Highlights & Honors
Fullbright Research Scholar, 2019
CNRS - Université de Bordeaux
Top 14 Entry, 2019
NSF Idea Machine 2026 Competition
NSF CAREER Award, 2015
National Science Foundation
Glenn Award, 2013
ACS National Meeting


Recycling Today
Chemical engineers in US, UK analyze polystyrene recycling process

“Our analysis finds polystyrene to be an ideal candidate for a chemical recycling process.” – Professor Michael Timko on the study he authored with colleagues from the Department of Chemical Engineering and the University of Bath. The analysis found a simple and scalable technology could increase the viability of recycling products like food packaging and packing peanuts. WPI authors include Professor Nikolaos Kazantzis and PhD students Elizabeth Belden (’24) and Madison Reed. This analysis was also reported on in Plastics Today, Recycling Today, and The Business Magazine.