Chemical and Environmental Engineering Newsletter

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Greetings!  As our 2021-2022 academic year reached a successful conclusion, I’d like to share with you some of the outstanding accomplishments of our faculty and students over the past spring semester.  Recently, our dean announced that our College received $29.3 million in externally sponsored research funding during the 2021 fiscal year and many of these awards were granted to our chemical and environmental engineering faculty. Publications, awards and recognition followed suit, as you will read below.  Our faculty continue to shine in both research and teaching, and we see their excellence mirrored in the accomplishments of both our undergrad and graduate students.  For those who graduated in April, both undergrads and graduate students, I’d like to offer my greatest congratulations and wish them well in their future paths!! 

We very much look forward to a restful summer and a continuation of our excellent momentum next fall!

Faculty News

Students working together in a classroom

Dr. Dongmei Feng Joins UC Environmental Engineering Faculty as Assistant Professor

Dr. Dongmei Feng comes to UC from UMass and brings with her a three-year NASA grant, in which $530,266 is to be funded by NASA for 2022-2024.  This work will entail the study of river water quality in the Mississippi River Basin using satellites, land surface models, surface water quality models, and data assimilation techniques.  She also recently had a prominent paper published in Nature Communications; the manuscript represents a significant advance in hydrology and investigates the Arctic River discharge via hydrologic modeling and remote sensing. Recent changes to Arctic river discharge | Nature Communications Congratulations and welcome, Professor Feng!!

Professors Aashish Priye and Greg Harris receive URC Faculty Scholar Awards

The Office of Research announced Drs. Aashish Priye and Greg Harris as winners of the 2021-2022 University Research Council award and each will receive $25,000 for their two-year projects.  Awardees were selected based on the quality, novelty and impact of their research, scholarship and creative activities, along with a clear potential to make further, sustainable contributions to knowledge creation and improved societal outcomes.  Professor Priye’s project was entitled, “Developing portable and inexpensive molecular diagnostic platform for rapid testing” and Professor Harris’ project was entitled, “Unlocking the Roles of the ECM in Schwann Cell Plasticity”.

https://www.research.uc.edu/news/2022/03/23/congratulations-to-our-urc-awarded-faculty-scholars-and-graduate-students

Dr. Aashish Priye
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Dr. Patrick Ray and team continue their critical work in Zimbabwe with UNESCO

Professor Ray recently won a larger contract to continue and expand his work into South Africa with UNESCO.  Specifically, the peoples of Chimanimani, Zimbabwe are facing multiple weather threats such as droughts, floods and landslides due to climate change.  Further, a cyclone in 2019 caused major destruction, leaving many areas barren of the vegetation that helps naturally alleviate flood waters. Adaption to climate change is therefore critical and this group uses a process he helped to develop called the Climate Risk Informed Decision Analysis (CRIDA) process, not only to evaluate the climate resilience in this area, but worldwide. The video link below is a quick visual synopsis of their fascinating, important work in this area!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ovc3n3zTk-U

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6 DCEE Faculty take University and College Awards in Spring Ceremony

Six DCEE faculty were recognized by the College of Engineering and Applied Science as they honor exceptional faculty and staff members with college awards each year.  Each of these recipients has demonstrated the legacy of excellence, scholarship and innovation that defines the college.  Professor Jingjie Wu received the CEAS Research Award for Early Career Faculty. Professors Yoonjee Park and Greg Harris received the CEAS Distinguished Researcher Award and Professors Soryong Chae and Stephen Thiel received the CEAS Master Educator Award.  And finally, CEAS Dean Weidner selected Dr. Anastasios Angelopoulos as a recipient of the Faculty to Faculty Research Mentoring Award. This award, co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Office of Research, honors faculty who have demonstrated excellence in teaching, research, and/or service. Congratulations to all!!!

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Dr. Aashish Priye
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Dr. Aashish Priye
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Professor Dionysios Dionysiou receives University’s Distinguished Research Professor Award

This prestigious award is given to a faculty member in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics or Medicine (STEMM) and represents the highest level of recognition for achievements and contributions in STEMM research at the University of Cincinnati. 

https://www.uc.edu/about/provost/awards/facultyawards.html

In addition, the Web of Science, Clarivate Analytics Group chose Professor Dionysiou as one of their Highly Cited Researchers in 2021.  This selection signifies their recognition of Professor Dionysiou’s exceptional research performance as demonstrated by his multiple papers ranking in the top 1% by citations for their field and year of publication.  https://www.uc.edu/news/articles/2019/11/n20876653.html

Dionysiou was awarded in two categories in 2021: (1) Engineering and (2) Environment and Ecology. He also made the list in the engineering category in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

UC engineer named highly cited researcher for fourth consecutive year | University Of Cincinnati

Other DCEE Awards

  • Anastasios Angelopoulos, Safran Landing Systems, Facility Usage Agreement, $35,000
  • Soryong R. Chae, State of Ohio, Developing fast responding solutions for removing cyanobacteria, cyanotoxins, and nutrients with coagulation/flocculation/sedimentation by characterizing site-specific bloom-related environmental fact, $84,000.
  • Soryong R. Chae, USEPA, Technical Support for PFAS Treatment Technologies and Nutrient Recovery, $31,000.
  • Dion Dionysiou, State of Ohio, Management of harmful algal blooms by clay-biopolymer composite through flocculation of cyanobacterial cells and adsorption of phosphorus, $97,000.
  • Junhang Dong, DOE, Novel Membrane System for Lithium Recovery from Brines A1, $173,000.
  • Drew McAvoy, USEPA, Unregulated Organic Chemicals in Biosolids: Prioritization, Fate and Risk Evaluation for Land Application, $271,000.
  • Jonathon Nickels, ACS, The role of static and dynamic structure factors in the viscosity scaling of n-alkanes, $110,000
  • Jonathon Nickels, NSF, CAREER: Standing Out in a Crowd, Neutron Based Methods to Study Molecular Transport in Crowded Environments., $194,000
  • Vesco Shanov, NASA Headquarters, Prepare Copper Coated Carbon Nanotube Materials for NASA Glenn, $35,000.

Dr. Harris’ lab receives CEAS Gold Star Award!

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The Gold Star Lab Award is a newly created annual award given by the College of Engineering and Applied Science to research-active faculty who exemplify the merging of safe practices, positive safety culture, and productive research. It is the belief of the College that a positive safety culture and good safety practices are not only critical to world-class research, but also integral to our mission. The Harris Lab (harris-lab.com) was one of five CEAS research labs given this award in 2022.  Congratulations!!

DCEE Student News

ChE graduate student, Vishnu Sriram, was named CEAS graduate student of the month during the spring semester!  Vishnu completed his Master’s degree in chemical engineering and then decided to continue working under Dr. Joo-Youp Lee in the field of nanomedicine focusing on gene and drug delivery to treat cancer. They work to make biodegradable and biocompatible delivery systems including polymeric and lipid nanoparticles which are used to carry chemotherapeutic drugs or genetic material such as mRNA.

Chemical engineering student researches nanoparticle drug delivery | University Of Cincinnati (uc.edu)

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Vishnu Sriram

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Katie Weitzel, a Ph.D. student studying under Professor Dion Dionysiou, was awarded the 2021 Graduate Student Award in Environmental Chemistry by the ACS division of environmental chemistry. This award recognizes graduate students who are working in areas related to environmental chemistry.  The award is based on student transcripts and records of research productivity, a brief discussion of their future goals, and a letter of recommendation from the faculty advisor.  The awardees receive cash and membership in the Environmental Division for one year and are also publicized in EnvirofACS and Environmental Science and Technology.  

PhD student Salar Balou received the Digital Futures Fellowship from the Office of Research.  The Office of Research created this new support program, part of Research2030, and specifically recognized Salar not only for his past accomplishments but also for the exciting work he will be doing over the next 12 months Salar is a student studying under Professor Aashish Priye and he will receive $17,500 for the academic year 2022 – 2023.

Two DCEE graduate students received $7500 summer stipends awarded by the Office of Research.  Zhe Zhang is studying under Professor Dion Dionysiou and his proposal was entitled, “"Simultaneous removal of phosphate and algal-derived organic matter (AOM) using magnetite: Role of AOM”.  Zhengyuan Li is a chemical engineering graduate student in Professor Jingjie Wu’s group and his proposal was entitled, “Copper Defects Driven Carbon Dioxide-to-Ethylene Conversion”. 

Spring Senior Design Exhibition Held Online

Seniors from both Chemical Engineering and Environmental Engineering programs presented their senior design projects at the end of the spring semester.  Each team prepared a poster, and groups were judged by both internal and external experts and the following awards were announced at the end of the semester departmental awards ceremony held on April 21, 2022:

Departmental ChE Awards

Best Capstone: First Place ($320 to each student)

2210: Conversion of Glycerol to Lactic Acid Using a Pt/ZnO Catalyst

Sidney Sutton, Hallie Malsam, Tim Good, Vaughn Richter, and Maverick Dziadkowiec.

Best Capstone Second Place ($240 to each student)

2213: Production Of Biodegradeable Poly (Lactic Acid) from Microalgae and Biowaste

Jarod Rausch, Celine Schmitt, Pablo Lemus, Leah Fletcher, Chloe Siewe.

Best Capstone Third Place  ($160 to each student)

2203: Renewable Diesel Formation

Meaghan LaBarre, Oliver Struger, Vanessa Manrique, Caitlyn Cusick, Robert Marshall. 

college students pose in front of poster

Departmental Environmental Engineering Awards

Best Capstone First Place  ($320 to each student)

Team: Bluegrass Water Consultants

Title:  Reservoir Sedimentation Control at the Fort Thomas Treatment Plant North Reservoir

Team Members: Cameron Atha, Claire DeForest, David Grigger, Aaron Organiscak, David Orth

Sponsor: Northern Kentucky Water District (NKWD)

Best Capstone Second Place  ($240 to each student)

Team: Environmental Overflow Consultants

Title:  Analysis of MSD Float Control to Prevent Sewer Surcharge in Combined Sewers

Team Members:  Ian Cummings, Patrick Kurtz, Nicole Lods, Kathryn Loehr, and Zoe Maldonado

Sponsor: Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSDGC)

Best Capstone Third Place  ($133 to each student)

Team:  Draft Engineering

Title:  Rhinegeist Spent Yeast Alternatives

Team Members:  Eathan Baumgartner, Donnie Combs, Hannah Halsey, Lucas Jividen, Hunter Lyons, Blake Melling

Sponsor: Rhinegeist Brewery

Best Environmental and Chemical Engineering Capstone and 8th place overall at the CEAS Expo.

Team: Daybreak Design

Title: Solar Panel Multi-Phase Implementation Plan for the University of Cincinnati Uptown Campuses

Team Members: Allison Gouge, Samuel Burt, Evan DeMars, Ester Hughes, Allie Mullinger

a group of 20 faculty and college students pose
Students pose at the capstone presentation event

AIChE - Ohio Valley Section recognized the following projects at the CHE Design Exhibition

First Place:

2210: Conversion of Glycerol to Lactic Acid Using a Pt/ZnO Catalyst

Sidney Sutton, Hallie Malsam, Tim Good, Vaughn Richter, and Maverick Dziadkowiec.

Second Place:

2203: Renewable Diesel Formation

Meaghan LaBarre, Oliver Struger, Vanessa Manrique, Caitlyn Cusick, Robert Marshall.

Third Place (2-way tie):

2213: Production of Biodegradeable Poly (Lactic Acid) from Microalgae and Biowaste

Jarod Rausch, Celine Schmitt, Pablo Lemus, Leah Fletcher, Chloe Siewe. 

2218:  Enzymatic Recycling of Polyethylene Terephthalate

Miread Brandes, Chelsea Ker, Margaret McCluskey, Amanda Sauls, Robert Newman. 

Congratulations to these project teams, and thanks to all of our seniors and judges on an excellent event!!

Students holding paper awards pose with faculty

Several ENVE and ChE graduate and undergraduate students also received departmental honors and scholarships at the DCEE Annual Award Ceremony:

Pat  Scarpino Award PhD Dissertation Award was given to Vasileia Vogiazi (Advisor: Dr. Dion Dionysiou) and Yoontaek Oh (Advisor: Dr. Soryong Chae).

Pat  Scarpino Award MS Thesis Award was given to Casey Formal (Advisor: Dr. Dion Dionysiou) 

Tianyu Zhang (adviser: Dr. Jingjie Wu) was given an award as a deserving graduate ChE student at the doctoral level who excelled in his/her performance during his/her tenure in the department, prior to graduation.

R.S. Tour Award for Outstanding Chemical Engineering Senior was awarded to Chelsea Elizabeth Ker. 

Brems Scholarship for Best Academic Achievement ($1500 each)

  • Matt James Olson
  • Vu Van Pham
  • Hunter Jacob Dewey Kasparian
  • Alex M. Elegeer
  • Neelah Suwal
  • Ashay J. Shah

Lubrizol Foundation Scholarship ($2,000 each)

  • Chelsea Elizabeth Ker
  • Qyunh Thi Nhu Nguyen
  • Hallie Caitlen Malsam
  • Cathryn Caldwell

Congratulations to all on these outstanding awards!!