Headshot of Dr. George Sorial

It is with great pleasure that I present to you the second newsletter of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering for the 2018-2019 academic year. It has been a year of change for our college as we thank our interim Dean Paul Orkwis for his outstanding service and ready ourselves to welcome new leadership. It has also been a year of great strides from both our faculty and our students. I see many of my colleagues, including our new faculty, take their ideas and research to international acclaim. And I watch with pride as many of the students they mentor and teach follow in their magnificent footsteps. We have much to be thankful for and proud of and I share of few of these outstanding stories below as we continue to work determinedly to complete another successful academic year.

George Sorial, PhD, Department Head, DChEE

Nickels Group Takes Cover of The Journal of Physical Chemistry B

The Journal of Physical Chemistry

Professor Jonathan Nickels, along with his students and colleagues, recently published their manuscript entitled “Lipid Rafts: Buffers of Cell Membrane Physical Properties” in The Journal of Physical Chemistry B and were awarded the cover of the issue. This paper explores “lipid rafts”, or structures rich in cholesterol and sphingolipids, found in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. They are located in distinct domains in the cell membrane with the function of facilitating the organization, assembly, and regulation of multimolecular protein complexes. The work of Dr. Nickels and his group takes their function a step farther, proposing that evidence suggests that these entities play a critical role in stabilizing the membrane’s physical properties over varying the temperature and other environmental conditions. Congratulations!!

ChE Graduate Students Publish in Science Advances

Headshot of Junhang Dong

Chemical Engineering graduate students, Zishu Cao, Shixuan Zeng, Zhi Xu, Antonios Arvanitis, and Shaowei Yang in Dr. Junhang Dong’s research group, recently published their work entitled, “Ultrathin ZSM-5 zeolite nanosheet laminated membrane for high-flux desalination of concentrated brines”. This prominent work considers our world’s critical issue of a diminishing fresh water supply by addressing the brines produced in many industrial processes. The ability to clean these industrial waters of their salt content allows a much safer release. Desalination, although theoretically the golden answer, presents a host of practical hurdles. Zeolites have recently shown the proper qualities to separate water molecules from salt solutions by molecule/ion sieving effects and the work of Dr. Dong and his graduate students took this favorable property and engineered a new type of membrane that is laminated with highly hydrophilic zeolite nanosheets. In their work, the addition of alumina into the silica framework of the zeolite structure produced the desirable ionic and hydrophilic surface necessary to enhance desalination and they successfully tested their material on waters with 24% salt content. Congratulations on this tremendous contribution!!

Dr. Teri Reed Receives University of Oklahoma Distinguished Service Award

Headshot of Dr. Teri Reed

Dr. Teri Reed is the assistant vice president of research development for the Office of Research as well as a professor of chemical engineering in our department. She received her bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Oklahoma. The Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy at the University of Oklahoma recently awarded her a 2019 Distinguished Alumni and Service Award. She will be recognized at the Student and Alumni Awards Banquet on April 11 at the University of Oklahoma. This prestigious award is the highest form of recognition given to alumni or friends of the college and it is presented to individuals whose accomplishments, affiliations and careers have honored the legacy of excellence at the University of Oklahoma. At UC, Dr. Reed continues to make significant contributions in the area of student and recruitment and retention efforts as well as in the area of research-based education and curriculum in engineering. Congratulations Dr. Reed on such outstanding service to us and others!!

Vesselin Shanov Inducted into Medical and Biological Engineering Elite

Headshot of Dr. Vesselin Shanov

The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the induction of Vesselin Shanov, Ph.D., Professor and Co-Director of the Nanoworld Laboratories, to its College of Fellows. This is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer. The College of Fellows is comprised of the top two percent of medical and biological engineers. College membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering and medicine research, practice, or education” and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of medical and biological engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to bioengineering education." Dr. Shanov was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows for “developing biodegradable Mg implants that will improve patient outcomes and make implantations more accessible to people around the world.” A formal induction ceremony was held during the AIMBE Annual Meeting at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC on March 25, 2019. Dr. Shanov was inducted along with 156 colleagues who make up the AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2019. Congratulations Dr. Shanov on this high honor!!

Park’s Group Continues to Publish High Profile Manuscripts in the Area of Drug Delivery

Headshot of Dr. Yoonjee Park

Dr. Yoonjee Park, a professor in the chemical engineering program, works to better facilitate drug delivery through nanoscale options. Her group recently published a paper in the journal “Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology” entitled, “Multiple-Exposure Drug Release from Stable Nanodroplets by High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound for a Potential Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment.” This particular manuscript targets degenerative disc disease (DDD), a condition that is forecast to affect almost 80% of the population. This published work explores the delivery of a potential drug treatment via encapsulated stable nanodroplets as a drug delivery carrier followed by multiple exposures of the nanodroplets to high-intensity focused ultrasound. This method induces the release of the therapeutic substance, providing a sustained and targeted delivery and thereby increasing the efficacy of the drug. Congratulations, Dr. Park!

Professor Dion Dionysiou Pulls in More National Awards

Image of Dr. Dion teaching in a classroom

Dr. Dion Dionysiou, a professor in the environmental engineering and sciences program is world-renowned for his work in several areas of water research and he often tours internationally speaking on his research expertise and outcomes. He was recently invited to give a lecture at the Pregl Colloquium at the Kemijski Institut in Slovenia where he spoke on the topic of “Treatment of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Water Using Advanced Oxidation Processes”. Dr. Dionysiou was also recently awarded as a distinguished scientist under the Chinese Academy of Sciences President’s International Fellowship Initiative in January of this year. Congratulations on your growing successes, Dr. Dionysiou!!

Dr. Stephen Thiel Takes University Teaching Award

Headshot of Dr. Stephen Thiel

The Office of the Provost’s review committee selected Dr. Stephen Thiel, a Professor in our Chemical Engineering Program, as the winner of the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Professor Award and noted that they were most impressed by his accomplishments and experience. Dr. Thiel teaches the Chemical Engineering Design Project class along with several others and is well-respected by his students. This award will be given during at the 2019 All-University Faculty Award Celebration, which is scheduled for April 25, 2019, at 3:00 pm in the TUC Great Hall. Congratulations, Dr. Thiel!!

UC International Awards Visiting Scholar Grants to Three DChEE Professors

Headshot of Dr. Sorial

Professors George Sorial, Dion Dionysiou and Mingming Lu of the environmental engineering program were awarded grants from the Visiting Scholar Program.  The goal of these grants is to strengthen the partnerships we have established with UC Strategic Partner Institutions by supporting collaborations between our faculty and staff. 

Headshot of Dr. Dion

Specifically, the Visiting Scholar program funds airfare and accommodation for teaching and research faculty from UC partners to travel to UC for 7-10 days in order to form relationships with UC colleagues, discover UC’s campus, and develop joint training or research projects in their disciplines.  Drs. Sorial and Dionysoiu will be hosting Venecio Ultra Jr. from Earth and Environmental Sciences at Botswana International University of Science & Technology, Botswana. 

Headshot of Dr. Lu

They will be working collaboratively to develop rhizofiltration systems of wastewater treatment for arid and semiarid environments.  Dr. Mingming Lu will be working with Rui Chen from Municipal and Environmental Waste at Beijing Jiaotong University, China to research the use of biomass charcoal for environmental remediation. They will also work on the development of a water and soil remediation engineering project.  Congratulations!!

Environmental Engineering Professor Patrick Ray and His Research Group Participate in Water Projects Across the Globe

Patrick Ray Group of students in front of the Bearcat statue

The reseasrch group of Dr. Patrick Ray is working hard to solve the world’s water problems.  Funded by the World Bank, they are looking at the water distribution network in Mexico City, as well as the drainage network with the goal of water reclamation and reuse, or stormwater capture and aquifer augmentation to solve some of Mexico City’s water problems.  In addition, they have started a small project in Peru, but also address similar issues closer to home.   In California, they are studying the flooding and drought in the Hetch Hetchy, with ramifications for San Francisco. This work is funded by the Army Corps and partnered with the California Department of Water Resources. And even in our own city Ray recently won his first water quality risk assessment project (funded by the Ohio Water Research Center). As part of this work, the group will be evaluating the risks to Cincinnati of a spill upstream on the Ohio River. To do so, they are developing a novel 2 dimensional contaminant transport model.  Congratulations on your most impressive work!!

DChEE Student News

Wael Abdelraheem using a computer in a lab

Wael Abdelraheem, a Ph.D. student studying under Dr. Dion Dionysiou, was recently awarded the 2019 C. Ellen Gonter Environmental Chemistry Award given by the Division of Environmental Chemistry of the American Chemical Society.  This award is presented to graduate students at U.S. and international universities who submit the highest quality research papers. Wael will be presenting his winning research paper, entitled, “Treatment of Domestic Wastewater by Simulated Solar-Light Mediated N- and B-codoped TiO2 AOP for Reuse: Mechanistic Aspects and Implications of Inorganic Species" at the Fall ACS Meeting in San Diego at the special C. Ellen Gonter Environmental Chemistry Awards Symposium. He will also receive a check for $1000 to cover travel costs for attending the meeting.   Wael additionally received the 2019 Graduate Student Awards in Environmental Chemistry.  This award recognizes graduate students who are working in areas related to environmental chemistry. The award is based on student transcripts and record of research productivity, and a letter of recommendation from the faculty advisor. The Award is given to students by the Division of Environmental Chemistry of by the American Chemical Society. As part of the award, he will receive a monetary amount of $125 and a one-year annual membership in the Environmental Division of the American Chemical Society. 

Intel logo

Recently six MS and PhD graduates, who had obtained their degrees under the supervision of Professor Vesselin Shanov, accepted positions with Intel Corporation. These students are Ge Lucy Li, Tarannum Tiasha, Rachit Malik, Seyram Gbordzoe, Adusei Paa Kwasi and Sid Mishra. The core of this success is the special training these graduate students received in Nanoworld Lab, co-directed by Dr. Shanov, especially in the field of Chemical Vapor Deposition, Plasma Processing, Physical Vapor Deposition, and other wafer handling techniques, which are widely used by Intel Corporation for the fabricating of their electronic chips. The exposure of Shanov’s students to advanced characterization techniques such as Scanning Electron Microscopy, X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, Raman Spectroscopy, electrical and mechanical property measurements and others, has been an additional credit for these students when applying for employment at the company. The next time we see a little blue label on our computers that reads “Intel InsideTM” we can say that UC graduates have also contributed to these advanced semiconductor devices.

Headshot of Ryan Muir

Each month, UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science chooses an Engineer of the Month. This student must demonstrate “excellence in the classroom, success in their co-op assignments and leadership through extracurricular activities on campus and/or in the community.”  January’s pick was chemical engineering major, Ryan Muir.  Ryan is also working on his Master’s degree in environmental engineering through the Accelerated Engineering Degree (ACCEND) program.  He has spent all of his co-op terms with BASF in addition to serving as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the Department of Engineering Education.

Yu Zhang using a computer in a lab

Yu Zhang, a PhD student studying under Dr. Maobing Tu, earned Second Place in the Sustainable Engineering Forum Graduate Student Poster Competition at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) 2018 annual meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, an award that carried $150 stipend.  Her poster was entitled, “Effects of Overliming and Activated Carbon on Carbonyl Inhibitors Removal and Butanol Fermentation in Biomass Hydrolysates". In a second competition, Yu received the University Research Council (URC) Graduate Student Stipend and Research Cost Award for her proposal entitled, “Carbonyl Inhibition of Butanol Production from Biomass Prehydrolysates by Clostridium".  This award will offer her $5,000.00 to be used for stipend and/ or research costs.

Congratulations to these students on their outstanding accomplishments!!