Chemical and Environmental Science Archive Newsletters

From new faculty and research to grants and awards, hear what's happening in the Chemical and Environmental Engineering department at UC. 

UC successfully comes to last weeks of our hybrid fall semester

Anastasios Headshot

Due to the uncertainty of the path of COVID-19, UC transitioned to a hybrid model for our fall semester.  Lectures were primarily offered online and student populations in laboratories were halved to maintain social distancing requirements.  We accomplished this with more laboratory sections as well as the extraordinary effort of many of our faculty and staff.  For these in-person courses, we sought to spread out the students while at the same time, ensuring they had the requisite hands-on experience to be successful in their future careers.  Our faculty continues to investigate optimal methods of instruction during the pandemic restrictions and we continue to publish not only in top research journals, of which you will read of many accomplishments in this newsletter, but in the educational arena as well.  For example, Dr. Norm Loney, a professor educator in the Chemical Engineering Program, continues to present and publish in his investigation of the relationship between spatial skills problem solving in ChE.  Together, we will continue to work diligently in these areas for our upcoming spring term, and hold fast to our educational ideals as well as to the hope that a vaccine will allow us to come together once again in 2021.

Dr. Aashish Priye works to develop Covid tests using a smart phone

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Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Dr. Aashish Priye is working to develop an ultra-portable test for infectious diseases, such as coronavirus, using a heating plate, a light-emitting diode and a smartphone. The smartphone camera can also be used to detect how much virus is present in the sample. Such a development would allow testing everywhere and would most benefit peoples in areas remote from medical facilities.

Professor Dionysios Dionysiou leads team to develop biosensor to detect toxins in water sources

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Dr. Dionysiou, a Professor in the Environmental Engineering Program, led a team of University of Cincinnati environmental engineers and chemists in the development of a biosensor to detect toxins in surface water such as streams, rivers and lakes. This research, funded by the National Science Foundation, specifically addresses the importance of detecting toxic products of cyanobacteria algal blooms, which are formed mainly by agricultural runoff. The group developed a sensor to identify and measure microcystins, toxins produced from algal blooms which can cause skin irritation, nausea or vomiting if swallowed, and liver damage if large amounts are ingested.  Professor Dionysiou was also recently named as a Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers of 2020.  This group includes the world’s most influential researchers as identified by the production of multiple highly-cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in the Web of Science.

Dr. Yoonjee Park is awarded Lois Hagleberger Huebner Young Investigator Award

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Congratulations to Dr. Yoonjee Park, an Assistant Professor in the Chemical Engineering Program, who recently received a Lois Hagelberger Huebner Young Investigator Award from the Ohio Lions Eye Research Foundation. This foundation supports research on numerous eye diseases at a variety of Ohio Institutions. Dr. Park’s proposal is titled, “Dose-Controlled Co-Delivery Implant for Chronic AMD Treatment” and the award is $214,000 (direct cost) for two years. Dr. Park is also among UC’s KL2 Research Scholars.  The objective of the KL2 Scholars Program is to successfully train diverse, multidisciplinary junior faculty members to conduct innovative, team-based, community-engaged clinical and translational research, develop sustainable careers in clinical and translational research and disseminate, and implement research findings that improve health outcomes and reduce disparities.  Congratulations Dr. Park!

NSF Awards Partnerships for Innovation - Technology Translation (PFI-TT) grant to Dr. Vesselin Shanov-PI (ChE) and Dr. Noe Alvarez-CO-PI (Chemistry)

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Alvarez headshot

This $550,000 project is focused on creating a sensor and related technology for measuring of lead concentration in drinking water. Reliable detecting and quantifying low concentrations of lead in water is a challenging task, given the negative health impact of this heavy metal particularly on children. Currently, there is a lack of continuously monitoring lead devices on the market. To address this, a new sensing element is proposed based on carbon nanotube fibers, which lowers the limit of detection and allows the sensor electrode to be miniaturized. The sensor is using an electrochemical analytical technique to trace lead in water. This approach offers simultaneous multielement detection for lead, copper, cadmium and mercury with 3.5 parts per trillion limit of detection for lead, thus outperforming any similar devices. Thanks to its simplicity and compactness, the sensor allows deployment in industrial facilities processing water and in households. Factors that control the reliability and robustness of the involved electrochemistry and the sensor itself, will be determined in preparation of the device for mass production by a leading national water processing industry. The main goal is to provide for the first time to the water consumers a simple and inexpensive tool for lead quantification. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project lies in addressing a sensitive to the society problem related to lead poisoning through drinking water and its prevention.

12th Annual ‘Evening with Industry’ held virtually in September, great success reported.

Screenshot from Zoom

This year’s event was sponsored by Society of Women Engineers and hosted 12 virtual break-out rooms with professionals from various companies.  The event not only allowed DCEE students the opportunity to learn about various career pathways and gain a clearer vision of future job responsibilities, but also allowed them to obtain valuable experience in virtual networking.

Professor Jingjie Wu joins team of researchers at the University of Louisiana

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Their joint project is entitled “High-Efficiency Electrochemical Conversion of CO2 to Ethylene” and the team was recently awarded 1.25 million dollars by the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Fuel, of which $450,000 will designated to fund work in Dr. Wu’s lab.  The group will develop and test technologies that can utilize carbon dioxide (CO2) from power systems or other industrial sources as the primary feedstock, with the overall goal to reduce emissions and transform waste carbon streams into value-added products.

Other Awards

  • Dionysios Dionysiou - University of California, Berkeley - National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) Department of Energy -  $170,420.00
  • Jonathan Nickels - Oak Ridge National Laboratory - Visualization of Solvent Disruption of Biomass and Biomembrane Structures in the Production of Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts - Department of Energy - $98,670.00
  • Yoonjee Park - Ohio Lions Eye Research Foundation - Biodegradable “On-demand” Drug Implant for Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treatment - $10,000.00
  • Patrick Ray - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Institute for Water  Resources (NCR) - $50,000.00
  • Patrick Ray - Procter & Gamble Company - P&G Water Security: Spain and Turkey - $50,000.00
  • Jingjie Wu – National Science Foundation - Selective Ethylene Production from Carbon Dioxide Electroreduction via Gas Diffusion Electrode Engineering - $449,003.00

Student News

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  • ChE student Maria Novak was awarded the May CEAS Engineer of the Month.  During her tenure at UC, Maria took the opportunity to gain research experience in both the Nanoworld lab at UC, led by ChE Professor Vesselin Shanov, as well in work with Dr. Mingming Lu as part of a grant from the National Science Foundation.  As part of the ACCEND program, she was just awarded both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in ChE and will now pursue a career at Proctor & Gamble. MS graduate Quinn Birch, working under Professor Dionysios Dionysiou, won the First Place Master Thesis national award from The Air & Waste Management Association. The title of the Thesis is “Sources, Transport, Measurement and Impact of Nano and Microplastics in Urban Watersheds” and the work was supported by and carried out in collaboration with researchers from US EPA. Quinn is currently working with EPA through a collaborative project and already published two journal articles.
  • Chemical engineering students Emily Weidner and Catherine Gottsacker participated in the summer Protégé Program, a program with offers outstanding undergraduate students in CEAS a paid summer position working with faculty researchers or industry partners.  Emily was awarded “best presentation” and a $300 prize at the final symposium. Her research presentation on tissue engineering was entitled “Alignment and Proliferation of Schwann Cells in PDVF-TrFE Scaffolding” and she worked with Greg Harris, assistant professor of chemical engineering.  Catherine tied for third place and received a $100 prize. She presented on “Lasers and Liposomes: A Literary Analysis of Controlled Drug Release” and worked with Yoonjee Park, assistant professor of chemical engineering.

Undergraduate students join Department of Energy research project on treatment and reuse of non-traditional water sources

Four Environmental Engineering undergraduate students joined the UC Agro DOE NAWI team in Professor Dionysiou’s group in Fall 2020. The undergraduate students have been assisting with literature review for the treatment and reuse of agricultural drainage water to help develop a Baseline Report of current water reuse in the agricultural sector.

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Hannah Leibman, a first-year student, wanted to get involved with research in order to gain experience and knowledge to help her achieve her goal of pursuing a PhD with a focus on green biotechnology. Hannah was a Goldwater nominee for her previous biology research at Western Kentucky University. Due to her interest in environmental remediation through natural systems, Hannah has been focusing on the optimization of constructed wetlands to increase contaminant removal.

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Gianna Cantor, a second-year student, is interested in exploring different environmental engineering topics in her research to help her determine her future career goals. Gianna previously worked with NASA’s photovoltaic department on the Mars Dust project. She is now researching membrane treatments and plant species that can selectively remove contaminants from agricultural drainage water

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Sophia Pedigo, also a second-year student, wanted to get more involved with research after her previous work at UC on addressing food waste management via anaerobic digestion. Her interest in land restoration and sustainability has led her to focus on optimizing the productivity of hydroponic systems through the reuse of agricultural wastewater. Sophia plans to obtain a Masters in Environmental Engineering.

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Connor O'Keefe, a third-year student, wanted to pursue research after his experience with monitoring water quality in the Little Miami River Watershed. Connor is interested in water treatment and air pollution and now focuses on ion-exchange and biological treatment technologies for the removal of constituents from agricultural drainage water. Connor plans on pursuing a Masters degree in Environmental Engineering.

UC's ChemECar team and its president, Jacob Kasik, placed third in the Northcentral Regional Conference

UC's ChemECar team and its president, Jacob Kasik, placed third in the Northcentral Regional Conference hosted by Notre Dame on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020.   This qualified the team to participate in the National Conference that occurred on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020.  Both events took place remotely as each team broadcast their participation live.  Teams participating at the National level included Virginia Tech, Cornell University, and University of Colorado Boulder, among many others.  After an exciting finish, the team placed 11th overall with Virginia Tech coming in first. Drs. Taso Angelopoulos and Stephen Thiel were present as Faculty Advisor and Onsite Safety Judge, respectively.  The team consisted not only of students from Chemical Engineering but also from Departments across the College.  The team used and assembly line process for preparing their own custom-made aluminum-air battery! The name of their car was “A-Salt and Battery."

Student in lab
Student working on a car

Elvis Ajuazum Eghombi, a graduate student in Environmental Engineering won the Ohio Section of the American Water Works Association

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Elvis Ajuazum Eghombi, a graduate student in Environmental Engineering working under the guidance of Dr. Ryan Chae, won the Ohio Section of the American Water Works Association $2,000.00 scholarship for the 2020 – 2021 school year. The scholarship will provide payment for costs associated with his degree.

UC students won second place in the Environmental Challenge International Competition

This past summer, University of Cincinnati students won second place in the Environmental Challenge International Competition hosted by the Air and Waste Management Association (AWMA). The UC Bearcat Environmental Solutions Team (BEST) comprised Andres Mata, chemical engineering graduate student who served as team lead, Sophia Pedigo, environmental engineering undergraduate student, and Kevin Johnson, chemical engineering undergraduate student.  Their challenge was to develop an organic waste management program that would divert and recycle organic materials to reduce methane emissions.  Advised by Professor of Environmental Engineering, Dr. Mingming Lu, the group decided to propose using anaerobic digestion of food waste at wastewater treatment plants.

UC Successfully Transitions to Online During Remainder of Spring Semester

On March 10, 2020, UC leaders announced that the institution would suspend face-to-face instruction on March 14th.  This is an historic effort to move our entire academic effort to remote learning in response to COVID-19 and I am proud of the work our faculty have put into this transition.  They responded with excellent creativity and kept student success at the forefront.  Spring semester is generally students’ time to present their capstones and showcase their work.  This year, our poster symposia were successfully held in an online forum in which students were able to make and post a video presentation outlining their projects and we will report on some of the outstanding work of our students in this newsletter.  At the end of the semester, our 2020 graduating class in Chemical Engineering Program exceeded 100 students for the second year in a row.  Both Chemical and Environmental Engineering Programs have experienced continued growth in enrollment for a number of years and I wish all of our graduating seniors a happy and prosperous future.

Five DCEE Faculty Take University and College Awards in Spring

Dr. Vadim Guliants was honored by The Office of  Research as one of the university’s top externally sponsored UC researchers for this past fiscal year.  Four other 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. Professors Vadim Guliants, George Sorial and Lilit Yeghiazarian received the CEAS Distinguished Researcher Award and Dr. Patrick Ray received the CEAS Master Educator Award. 

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The Web of Science Group chose Professor of Environmental Engineering and Science, Dr. Dionysios Dionysiou, as one of their Highly Cited Researchers in 2019.

This selection signifies their recognition of Professor Dionysiou’s exception research performance as demonstrated by his multiple papers ranking in the top 1% by citations for their field and year of publication.

DCEE held first Departmental Workshop on Collaborative Research, Saturday March 7

40 faculty from both the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Chemistry were in attendance along with Dean Weidner.  The goals set forth were to achieve awareness among participants of individual areas of research expertise in the respective Departments and secondly, to get to know one another as colleagues among the two departments.  Each faculty gave brief 3-4 minute presentations (in any format) describing their research interests and acknowledging sources of funding.  The event was extremely successful and there were many discussions regarding potential areas of collaboration which may allow pursuit of new research directions and sources of funding.   

Environmental Engineering Alumnus Dr. Carol Clinton is honored with the Herman Schneider Alumni Award.

Carol Clinton Headshot

Dr. Clinton serves as president of E3 Strategic Partners, a certified woman-owned company that helps companies around the world navigate regulatory compliance in chemical product safety, among other consulting services. The Herman Schneider Award honors graduates whose personal stature have reflected exceptional acclaim on the college's academic departments and the disciplines they represent.

In May of 2020, NSF awarded a RAPID grant to Dr. Vesselin Shanov-PI and Dr. Soryong Chae-Co-PI to create a prototype and test a face mask with thermal inactivation of pathogens, including the virus causing COVID-19

Currently, there is a significant shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, particularly face masks, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The statistic shows that one COVID-19 patient consumes on average 17 face masks per day worn by the medical personnel. The post COVID-19 forecast describes that the face masks will be required long after the infection and death toll curve is flattened and declines. This project is targeting the design and fabrication of a prototype of heatable and reusable face mask that can kill viruses caught on the mask surfaces thus preventing their penetration within the human respiratory system. This is achieved through resistive heating above the virus lethal temperature. A thin and breathable heater film made of  engineered carbon nanomaterials will be used, which is porous and can be retrofitted or placed on the outer surface of any commercial face mask. This heatable filter is powered by a portable  battery or a cell phone and is thermally insulated from facial skin. The mask can be energized when worn by the user or in storage to disinfect it. PhD student Yanbo Fang (MME) and undergraduate student Hung Nguyen (ChE) have been very instrumental and innovative in making the first version of the heatable mask prototype.

Dr. Patrick Ray Continues to Extend His Group’s Water Research to the Globe

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This has been an exciting semester for the Water Systems Analysis Research Group led by Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering, Dr. Patrick Ray.  They won a contract with the Millennium Challenge Corporation to develop something called “Robust Cost-Benefit-Analysis”. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (and most any agency that builds or manages large water infrastructure) uses benefit cost analysis to choose a project among a portfolio of investment options. Unfortunately, benefit cost analysis tends to be inadequately responsive to uncertainties in the future such as climate change. Ray and his group will be developing a new approach that uses models (e.g., climate, hydrologic) to run many simulations of possible futures, and uses advanced statistical approaches (e.g., data mining, machine learning) to estimate likelihoods and inform risks and opportunities. Case studies are Tunisia and Niger.  In a second avenue, Dr. Ray was contracted by the US Army Corps’ Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) to improve their capabilities in water quality risk assessment. That means developing new models and tailoring existing models to evolving water contamination problems. They will likely test their models on the Ohio River, and develop multi-objective optimization approaches to better operate Ohio River infrastructure.  And finally, they are just starting to work with P&G’s Global Water Stewardship Lead on water issues in Mexico City of interest to P&G, as well as evaluations of the suitability of two potential basins for P&G involvement – one in Turkey and one in Spain.

In Memory of Henry T. Brown

In February of this year, our department received news that one of our distinguished Herschede Society members, Henry T. Brown, passed away at the age of 87. Henry graduated from Walnut Hills High School, moving on to become the first African American to earn a B.S. degree in chemical engineering in 1955 from the UC College of Engineering. Brown then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a National Science Foundation Scholar, and there he received his M.S. degree in chemical engineering in 1956. He moved on to industry, eventually retiring from Polaroid, and had an exceptional record as civil rights activist, community leader and family man. Henry received the Herman Schneider Distinguished Alumni Award from the college in 1983.  He joined the Foundation Board in 1992 and was inducted into the Herschede Society in 2015. He received an honorary doctorate of science degree from UC in 2001.

The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either of the two scholarship funds Henry was instrumental in creating. The first of these was established through the Foundation and benefits underrepresented students in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Environmental engineering associate professor Dr. Lilit Yeghiazarian recently received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation

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Environmental engineering associate professor Dr. Lilit Yeghiazarian recently received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will fund the development of an Urban Flood Open Knowledge Network which will anticipate, plan for, avoid and respond to flooding. Her team is made up of specialists in many different disciplines, including the fields of water-related engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, systems analysis, controls, machine learning, epidemiology, socioeconomics and transportation.  Their collective task will be to connect all the data produced by urban systems like power grids, stormwater and transportation networks, and drinking water infrastructure to help in flood response and minimization of damage.

Professor Ryan Chae received an Ohio Water Resources Center USGS Award

Professor Ryan Chae received an Ohio Water Resources Center USGS Award. His proposal entailed investigating the removal of PFAS from drinking water.  This is a critically important area of research as per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) are ubiquitous.  They are used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water, however, they do not break down in the environment, can move through soils and contaminate drinking water sources, and bioaccumulate in fish and wildlife.

Congratulations Dr. Chae!!

DCEE develops BS-MS Program with College of Pharmacy

Students pursuing their bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering now have another track open to them.  This spring, DCEE, in partnership with the College of Pharmacy launched a new degree path in the field of cosmetic science. Students following this path will obtain their bachelor’s in chemical engineering while simultaneously taking some graduate level courses in the College of Pharmacy.  After graduation, they will spend one more year to obtain their MS in cosmetic science, a multidisciplinary degree that requires expertise in a wide range of disciplines such as chemistry, chemical engineering, biological sciences, human studies, formulation science, toxicology and human and environmental safety,

ChE Hosts Process Boot Camp this Spring

Students standing in front of Baldwin hall

Lubrizol Sponsored a CCPS Process Safety Boot Camp at UC in February of this year and it was a huge success with many ChE majors attending.  The fast-paced two day course was organized by Dr. Stephen Thiel and guest instructors included Frank Renshaw, a certified safety professional and certified industrial hygienist currently serving as an EHS consultant after 35 years with Dow Advanced Materials (formerly the Rohm and Haas Company) and John Herber, a safety professional with a 33-year career at 3M Company that included positions in process and project engineering, production operations and corporate safety.  In addition, Lubrizol participants included Jonathan Gordon, Griff Allen, and Alex Fogle along with CEAS Dean John Weidner.

DCEE Student News

Pat Morand Scholarship

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Sean Weddell and Linh Do, ChE seniors, were awarded the $500 Pat Morand Scholarship for this academic year. Eligibility requirements were having worked at least one COOP semester at Dow in Michigan and being of good academic standing.Replace with your text

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Two of our majors were recognized for achievement in their co-ops.  Madison Alvarez will graduate this spring with her degree in Environmental Engineering.  She was recognized taking initiative, challenging the status quo and creating lasting contributions at Kroger and GE Aviation.  Patrick Beers is a student in chemical engineering and he was recognized for completing five outstanding co-op terms at Patheon Pharmaceuticals Inc., part of Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Cameron Beck Recognition

Cameron Beck, graduating senior in the Chemical Engineering program was recognized by the Bearcat Promise Career Studio for his work as a peer career coach.  These coaches help fellow students in the Bearcat Promise Career Studio with job and co-op search questions, job applications, resumes, CVs, cover letters, references, interviews, and more

In the Media

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In response to the COVID-19 nationwide shutdown, Teja Bollimunta, a chemical engineering student at the University of Cincinnati, developed a free online tutoring platform called Brainwave. Students  from across the county were able to sign up for help in a host of subjects.  It was the hope of the developers that their help would alleviate some of the burden placed on grade school and high school teachers as they worked fervently to convert their lesson plans to an online format.  The outstanding success of this effort was reported by Channel19.

Graduate Student Government Award

Yoontaek Oh headshot

Yoontaek Oh, a PhD student working with Dr. Ryan Chae in Environmental Engineering, was recently awarded the Graduate Student Government (GSG) Research Fellowship which monetarily ($1,200) supports my research.  The award monies may be used to fund research related expenses including, but not limited to, research related travel, workshops, conferences, field trips, performances, exhibitions, and/or lab equipment.

Sigma Xi Grant

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Yuan Zhang, a chemical engineering graduate student in the research group of Dr. Yoonjee Park, was recently awarded the Sigma Xi Grant in Aid of Research Award.  This is highly prestigious award comes with a $2500 stipend that may be used for travel expenses to and from a research site, to present research results at a national science or engineering meeting, or for purchase of consumables research materials and supplies or non-standard laboratory equipment necessary to complete a specific research project.  Yuan’s winning proposal was entitled, “Biodegradable Implants for Subcutaneous On-demand Dose-controlled Drug Delivery”.

Graduate Engineer of the Month

A student using a pipet in a lab

Wael Abdelraheem, a Ph.D. student in environmental engineering, earned the Graduate Engineer of the Month award for September 2019.  Wael researches water quality under Dr. Dionysios Dionysiou and specifically, he works in advanced oxidation/reduction processes to eliminate contaminants – such as pharmaceuticals, ingredients in personal care products, pesticides, and plasticizers – in water. He has also developed a new iron-based catalyst that breaks down the extremely stable per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Other News

Seniors from both Chemical Engineering and Environmental Engineering and Science programs presented their senior design projects at the end of the spring semester.  There were many outstanding projects representing a great deal of effort on the part of the students.  Groups were judged by both internal and external experts and the following awards were announced at the end of the semester  

Departmental Chemical Engineering Awards

Spring Senior Design Exhibition Held Online

  • Best Capstone: First Place. “Byproduct Formaldehyde Processing into Novolac Resin” Cory Chisholm, Linh Do, William Hobart, Alex Holton, Madison Summers
  • Best Capstone: Second Place “Synthesizing and Purifying Dimethylacetamide from Dimethylamine​” Tyler Cowans, Jeremy Daum,​Victoria Detcher, Leah Pickner​
  • Best Capstone: Third Place (Tie) “Spent Coffee Grounds Recyclery to Marketable BioChar and Coffee Oil” Lillian Ashworth, Cassie Packis, Zach Spoelstra, Matthew Stockman, Sean Weddell
  • Best Capstone: Third Place (Tie) “Acetic Acid Production from Pyrolyzed Medical Waste” Cameron Beck, Dominick Forlenza, Grant Gallagher, Anya Jolicoeur, Dan Matthews

Departmental Environmental Engineering and Science Awards

  • Best Capstone First Place Title:  Impacts of Largescale Electric Vehicle Deployment on Cincinnati Ambient Air Quality Team: Urban Charge, Team Members: Kristen Belisario, Chris Stone, Rachel Tumbleson Sponsor: Duke Energy/Hamilton County
  • Best Capstone Second Place Title:  Improving Morocco's Municipal Solid Waste Management Facilities Team: Solid Solutions, Team Members:  Madi Alverez, Shae Caruso, Sincerrai GentrySponsor: Resilient Communities Best Capstone Third Place (Tie) Title:  Literary Analysis of In-Home Water Pollutant Removal Technologies Team:  H2Home Water Solutions, Team Members:  Madison Duke, Nate Jung, Julie McCormick Sponsor: Water Prosper Inc.
  • Best Capstone Third Place (Tie) Title:  Stormwater Reuse at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Team:  Umbrella Water Solutions, Team Members:  Chris Bowers, Michale Bump, Cara Hall, Taylor Webster Sponsor: Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

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

  • First Place “Synthesizing and Purifying Dimethylacetamide from Dimethylamine​” Tyler Cowans, Jeremy Daum,​Victoria Detcher, Leah Pickner
  • Second Place “Spent Coffee Grounds Recyclery to Marketable BioChar and Coffee Oil” Lillian Ashworth, Cassie Packis, Zach Spoelstra, Matthew Stockman, Sean Weddell
  • Third Place (Tie) “Byproduct Formaldehyde Processing into Novolac Resin” Cory Chisholm, Linh Do, William Hobart, Alex Holton, Madison Summers 
  • Third Place (Tie) “Acetic Acid Production from Pyrolyzed Medical Waste” Cameron Beck, Dominick Forlenza, Grant Gallagher, Anya Jolicoeur, Dan Matthews

Congratulations to these students on their outstanding accomplishments! And congratulations to all our graduates!

New Leadership for Both the College and Department

Headshot of Dr. John Weidner

The beginning of the 2019-20 academic year brought changes in leadership to both our college and department.  Dr. John W. Weidner joined UC in August as the Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science.  He previously served as department chair and professor of chemical engineering at the University of South Carolina. Dean Weidner's research encompasses renewable-energy applications, including the synthesis and characterization of electrocatalysts and electrochemically active materials.

Headshot of Dr. Anastasios Angelopoulos

The department also welcomed new leadership as Dr. Anastasios Angelopoulos replaced Dr. George Sorial, who excellently served as department head for the past 6 years.  Dr. Angelopoulos most recently served as Associate Head of the department and Chairman of the Chemical Engineering Program prior to that. His research interests include inorganic nanoparticle synthesis and assembly for electronics, fuel cells and batteries, as well as polymer membrane catalysts for next-generation optical sensors and the separation of toxic agents.  Welcome Dean Weidner and Dr. Angelopoulos!!

6 DCEE Faculty Take CEAS Awards in Spring

Every year, the College of Engineering and Applied Science honors exceptional faculty and staff members with college awards and each of these recipients has demonstrated the legacy of excellence, scholarship and innovation that defines the college.  Professors Dion Dionysiou, Junhang Dong, Vesselin Shanov, and Panagiotis Smirniotis received the CEAS Distinguished Researcher Award.  Dr. Drew McAvoy received the CEAS Master Educator Award and Dr. Soryong (Ryan) Chae was presented with the CEAS Research Award for Early-Career Faculty.  

Headshot of Dr. Dion
Headshot of Dr. Chae
Headshot of Dr. McAvoy
Headshot of Dr. Dong
Headshot of Dr. Shanov
Headshot of Dr. Smirniotis

Dr. Aashish Priye Receives Digital Futures Anchor Development Award

Headshot of Dr. Aashish Priye

Dr.  Aashish Priye, assistant professor in the Chemical Engineering Program, was recently awarded the Digital Futures Anchor Development Award as part of the University of Cincinnati Next Lives Here initiative. He will be the Principal Investigator on this project leading a team of interdisciplinary faculty members from both Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (Dr. Surya Prasath) and Department of Environmental Engineering, UC (Dr. Soryang Chae). The project aims to address inefficiencies in our current infectious disease management system by developing the next generation of ultra-portable microfluidic DNA analysis platforms.

Congratulations, Professor Priye!

Shanov Group Breaks Publication Record in 2019

Dr. Shanov's group standing in front of the main entrance of the Baldwin Hall.

Dr. Vesselin Shanov and his group achieved a record number of publications during the first 10 months of this year. These include 14 papers in peer reviewed journals and 8 book chapters. Dr. Shanov pointed out that this was possible thanks to the dedicated efforts of his undergraduate and graduate students who are following the spirit of the UC Nanoworld Lab, which he co-directs, to “work, write and publish”. More papers are expected to be published by the end of 2019.

Headshot of Dr. Thiel

Professor Stephen Thiel was elected to be a Director in the Separations Division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.  His term starts at the beginning of 2020.  He has previously served as the Vice Chair and Chair of the Bioseparations area in the Separations Division.  Congratulations Dr.Thiel!!  

DChEE Student News

Wael in the lab

Wael Abdelraheem, a Ph.D. student studying under Dr. Dion Dionysiou, was recently awarded the Ohio Section - American Water Works Association Advanced Degree/Continuing Education 2019 Scholarship.  This award is given to students and for professionals who have graduated or will be graduating within a year and the purpose of the award is to encourage water industry related education through scholarship. The scholarship program was created in an effort to give back to the individuals who support the water industry and the Ohio Section of the American Water Works Association. The top abstracts are selected for either an Oral or Poster Presentation at the 2019 Ohio Section Annual Conference September 10-13 in Cleveland, Ohio. Wael was the first place winner and received a stipend for $ 4,000.

Potrait picture of Mehak

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.”  September’s pick was chemical engineering major, Mehak Chawla.  Mehak is in pre-med and also pursuing an MBA. Her co-op experiences include rotations at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Research Center and in the lab of chemical engineering faculty member Joo-Youp Lee, where she gained experience in imaging and pharmacokinetics of nanoparticles for cancer therapeutics. Link to the news article.

Potrait picture of Zishu Cao.

This year, the college has expanded the Engineer of the Month Award to the graduate students as well.  Zishu Cao, a Ph.D. student in chemical engineering, earned the Graduate Engineer of the Month award for September 2019.  Zishu researches membrane separation under Dr. Junhang Dong.  The process of membrane separation is used in environmental protection, energy recovery and medicine. She has a very impressive publication record, having published 11 papers, many of which are in prestigious journals in the field of membrane science and technology, such as Science Advances and Journal of Membrane Science. Link to the article.

Potrait picture of Ryan

Ryan Muir, a ChE senior, took first place in the First SimCentral Academic Competition.  SimCentral is a simulation program and Ryan mastered the use of this program working independently and applied it to a challenging design problem which addressed both the steady-state and dynamic behavior of the process.  He received a $3,000 cash prize and an additional $1000 for the video contest.

Spring Brings Another Successful Senior Design Exhibition

Seniors from both Chemical Engineering and Environmental Engineering and Science programs presented their senior design projects at the end of the spring semester.  There were many outstanding projects representing a great deal of effort on the part of the students.  Groups were judged by both internal and external experts and the following awards were announced afterward in conjunction with a celebratory pizza party!  

Departmental ChE Awards

A group of students standing in front of their poster presentation.

Best Capstone: First Place

Title: Conversion of Plastic Waste to Liquid Fuels

Team: Hannah Carson, Rachel Hautman, Karen Hildebrant, Ryan Muir, Nhu Hao Tran

Best Capstone: Second Place

Title: Production of Triacetin by Reactive Distillation 

Team: Annie Dolphin, Alyssa Fulks, John Miller, Colleen Platten, Heidi Van Valkenburgh

Best Capstone: Third Place

Title: Production of Biodiesel from Palm Oil by Reactive Distillation

Team: Maddie Bell, Ben Harnen, Emma Mullins, Ray Recchia, Brennan Schilling

A group of students standing beside their poster presentation.

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

First Place: Production of Biodiesel from Palm Oil by Reactive Distillation

Team: Maddie Bell, Ben Harnen, Emma Mullins, Ray Recchia, Brennan Schilling

Second Place: Carbon Dioxide Capture from Ambient Air Utilizing Cooling Towers

Team: Joshua Dietrich, Levi Ping, Nicholas Keil, Nicholas Kiser

Third Place (Tie):

Crude Glycerol Fermentation by Oleaginous Red Yeast To Sunflower Oil And Beta-Carotenes

Team: Mitchell Beerse, Christopher Bunder, Andrew Cornelius, Adam Kluesener, Ryan Lohbeck

Production of Syngas from Ohio Coals Using Chemical Looping

Team: Nicholette Guy, Marek Johnson, Kyle Petitjean, Amani Russell, Jonah Stepaniak, Patrick Sullivan

Production of Oxygenates from Syngas Generated from Ohio Coal

Team: Robert Naber, Josh McCarty, John Lang, Parker Bozman, Cody Harris, Bennett Herbert

Departmental Environmental Engineering and Science Award

Best Capstone: First Place

Title: Simulation of a Hazardous Waste Spill on the Ohio River

Team: Precision Point

Team Members: Bethany Caspersz, Matthew Cummings, Dexter Adams, Qianhui Xia

Sponsor: Greater Cincinnati Water Works

Best Capstone: Second Place

Title:  Beneficial Reuse of Sludge Incinerator Ash

Team: GROW, Team Members:  Frances Sparer, Emily Koschmeder, Ezequiel Mazzeo Larrosa, Katie-Grace Sawka

Sponsor: Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati

Best Capstone: Third Place

Title:  Biogas Capture and Utilization from an Anaerobic Lagoon

Team:  BioPower, Team Members:  Abby Miller, Andrew Francis, Grace Aldredge, Marc Bargerstock

Sponsor: Resilient Communities

Congratulations to these students on their outstanding accomplishments!!

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!! http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/11/eaau8634

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!!