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ChBE  School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

contents 4

David Sholl Appointed as School Chair


Ronald Rousseau Steps Down After 27 Years


ChBE At a Glance


Happenings: Symposiums, Seminars, Events


Faculty News


Alumni News


Student News



Photos: Raftermen Photography

About Us Established in 1901, the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) is one of eight schools in the College of Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Ranked among the top 10 engineering programs in the nation for both its graduate and undergraduate programs, the School is also one of the oldest and most diverse programs in the country. With about 850 undergraduate students, 200 graduate students, and 47 faculty members, it is also one of the largest in the U.S. ChBE faculty members are involved in 13 comprehensive areas of education, research, and commercialization with a strategic focus on energy & sustainability, biotechnology, materials & nanotechnology, and complex systems. The mission of ChBE is to provide students with the intellectual basis to be educated citizens, to prepare them for successful careers, and to advance the science and technology that form the basis of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech 311 Ferst Drive Atlanta, GA 30332-0100

Newsletter Committee Katie Brown Michael Filler Dennis Hess Jacqueline Mohalley Snedeker Athanasios Nenes Donna Peyton Elsa Reichmanis David Sholl

Design Pete Ivanecky


features 10 In the Lab A highlight of various research projects and advancements.

14 Advanced Paper Opens New Possibilities Professor Dennis Hess discusses his research in modified, water-repellent paper and its environmental impact.

20 Alumni Spotlight: Decie Autin Autin, ChE ’80, speaks about her continued commitment to ChBE, both personally and professionally.

Graphic Solutions Group

For More Information Communications..........................Katie Brown 404.385.2299 • Development.......Donna Peyton & Abbey Benton 404.894.2867 • Main Office...............................404.894.1838 Chair’s Office. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 404.894.2867 Undergraduate Program............... 404.894.2865 Graduate Program...................... 404.894.2877

On the Cover: Photos Courtesy of Raftermen Photography Copyright 2013 • Georgia Institute of Technology School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

David Sholl Appointed as School Chair Photos: Gary Meek Photography

“Our school has a phenomenal group of faculty, students, and alumni,” Sholl says. “I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with all of them to move the School from its current successes to even greater successes in the future. Our discipline is in the middle of a renaissance in the U.S., and Georgia Tech is poised to play a key role in technology development and industrial practice as this trend continues.” Sholl, who joined the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering faculty at Georgia Tech in January 2008, earned his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of Colorado and did postdoctoral research at both Yale University and Penn State University. Before coming to Georgia Tech, Sholl was a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University. Sholl has received numerous awards including an NSF CAREER Award, the DOE Hydrogen Program R&D Award, and an Early Career Achievement Award in Computational Molecular Science and Engineering from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. His research group has published in the areas of computational materials modeling, porous materials for carbon capture applications, membranes for gas separations, and heterogeneous catalysis. Sholl has published more than 220 papers with over 7,000 citations and has given more than 160 invited conference talks and seminars. He is currently a senior editor for Langmuir (an American Chemical Society journal) and chair of the Computational Molecular Science and Engineering Forum in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Sholl has served as the research and thesis advisor to more than 80 students at the bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and postdoctoral levels.

Dr. David S. Sholl has been appointed as the new chair in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, College of Engineering, at the Georgia Institute of Technology, effective July 1, 2013. Sholl is also the Michael E. Tennenbaum Family Chair and the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Energy Sustainability.


“David’s background, experiences, and outstanding reputation in fields critical to the school make him ideally suited and well prepared to lead the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering during the next era,” says Dr. Gary S. May, dean of the College of Engineering. “He is an ideal match for the school’s high aspirations both nationally and internationally. David’s work in energy sustainability is internationally recognized, and he will continue to advance this area as one of our key strategic research initiatives for the School and Georgia Tech.”


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An Aussie born and bred David grew up in the country town of Armidale, Australia, before attending Australian National University to pursue an undergraduate degree in physics. He came to the U.S. in 1991 to earn a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of Colorado.


Tickles the ivories and the strings He plays the violin in the Georgia Philharmonic, a volunteer orchestra, and in the orchestra at his church in Roswell. David has also been spotted playing the piano in the faculty band at several graduate recruiting events.


G’day, sunshine! After spending ten years in Pittsburgh, Pa., as a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University, David was happy to relegate his snow shovels to the garage when he moved to Atlanta in 2008 to start a faculty position at Georgia Tech.

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Going the distance A marathon runner, he was part of the twelve-member ChBE team that won the Dixie 200, a 200-mile relay race from Atlanta to Birmingham in April 2013.

A family man He and his wife, Connie, have three children— Kevin (16), Rachel (14), and Martin (12).

things to know about



School Chair Ronald Rousseau Steps Down After 27 Years After 27 years of service as chair of the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech, Ronald Rousseau has decided to step down from the position, returning to his teaching and research work as a faculty member and completing the fourth edition of Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes. “It was not an easy decision, as I enjoyed the challenges of my job,” Rousseau says. “I decided that I had given about all of the creativity and spark that the position deserved and that it was time for someone else to take up the baton.” Rousseau’s successor, David Sholl, assumed the chair position on July 1, 2013. While Rousseau says he is still getting used to the absence of others setting and managing his daily calendar (which he believes he will soon be fully accustomed to), his ability to travel with his wife, Sandra, has been a highlight of his newly discovered downtime. “Sandra and I just returned from a ten-day trip to France,” he says. Accompanied by Sandra’s



18-year-old granddaughter, their trip included time in Paris exploring the palace at Versailles, Giverny touring Monet’s gardens, and Normandy visiting Omaha Beach. Since Rousseau became school chair in December 1987, the School has seen significant growth. The School’s once all-male faculty has more than doubled to 47 faculty members, including 9 women, and it has soared in the graduate chemical engineering program rankings from No. 32 in the 1993 Gorman Report to No. 10 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 rankings. “I have been part of Georgia Tech at a time when it benefited from great leadership, when superb students passed through its doors, and when the faculty of the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering transformed the program to become one of the world’s best,” Rousseau says. “I have always been lucky, and being at Georgia Tech was part of that good fortune.”


at a glance 2012-13

Students 866 undergraduates 217 graduates: 10 M.S. and 207 Ph.D.

• Awarded 158 B.S. degrees, 25 M.S. degrees and 22 Ph.D. degrees

• 118 students participated in study abroad programs • 7 NSF Fellows, 5 Presidential Fellows, 2 Shell Oil Outstanding

#10 graduate

chemical engineering program in the U.S. (U.S. News & World Report 2014 rankings)

GTA Fellows, Fulbright Scholar, NASA Space Science Fellow

#6 undergraduate

chemical engineering program in the U.S.

The School focuses on four strategic research areas—

energy & sustainability,

(U.S. News & World Report 2014 rankings)

biotechnology, c o m p l e x s y s t e m s , and m a ter i a l s & nano t echno l o gy —while incorporating elements of classic engineering principles. Research is conducted in the areas of catalysis, reaction kinetics, complex fluids, polymers, microelectronics, microfluidics, sustainable development, pulp and paper, separations, MEMS, thermodynamics, environmental science, drug delivery, and reaction engineering.

Faculty & Staff 47 faculty members, including 9 women

• 15 NSF CAREER Award winners, 10 AIChE Fellows, 7 NAE members

11 faculty members with joint appointments 2 academic professionals 55 postdoctoral researchers 31 staff members

research expenditures totaled

$26.1 million

ChBE@GT is the only chemical engineering program in the nation ranked in the top 5 for production of both B.S. and Ph.D. graduates. Photos: Gary Meek (top right) and Raftermen Photography (bottom left and right)



happenings symposiums · seminars · events

Symposium Honors Amyn Teja On April 10, 2013, the School hosted a symposium at the Academy of Medicine to honor Amyn Teja, Regents’ Professor Emeritus at Georgia Tech. Teja, who joined the School as an associate professor of Chemical Engineering in 1980, officially retired from his position as Regents’ Professor and Grassman Foundation Professor of Chemical Engineering in June 2012, although he still continues to teach and advise graduate students.

Speakers at the symposium included John Prausnitz, professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley; E. Dendy Sloan, University professor emeritus at the Colorado School of Mines; Stan Sandler, H.B. duPont Chair of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware; and Ralph Diguilio, vice president of research and development for Performance Products at Huntsman Corporation.

spring 2013

seminar series Christopher Alabi

University of South Florida

Nanette Boyle

Colorado School of Mines

Stacey Finley

John Hopkins University

Jaehong Kim

Georgia Tech

Jeffery Klauda

fall 2013

University of Maryland

Ryan Lively

Georgia Tech

Pamela Peralta-Yahya

Georgia Tech

Simon Smart

University of Queensland, Australia

André Taylor

Yale University

Yue Wu

Stelios Andreadis

Purdue University

SUNY Buffalo

Douglas C. Elliot


Raymonde Gorte

Penn State University

Thomas Jaramillo Suljo Linic Lynn Loo

Stanford University University of Michigan Princeton University

Dan Schwartz

UC - Boulder

David Sholl

Georgia Tech

Jin Wang K. Dane Wittrup



Norma Alcantar

Auburn University MIT

Jamey Young

Vanderbilt University

Hongcai Zhou

Texas A&M University

28th Annual Ashton Cary Lecture Ronald Rousseau was the speaker for the 28th Annual Ashton Cary Lecture from April 24-25, 2013. Established in 1984 as a memorial to Ashton Cary, ChE ’43, the lecture series features distinguished scholars in fields of significance to chemical engineering. During the keynote address, “Energy and Sustainability: Context, Challenges, Opportunities,” Rousseau spoke about energy’s influence on sustainable growth and the importance of identifying research and development opportunities within the chemical engineering domain. For the special lecture, Rousseau addressed the use of crystallization in meeting the challenge of chiral purity separations in his seminar titled, “Routes to Chiral Purity Involving Crystallization.” Pictured above is Rousseau with members of the Cary family.


Reception Thanks Rousseau for Service To recognize the service and contributions of Ronald Rousseau, who held the chair position from 1987 to 2013, ChBE held a reception at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center on May 23, 2013. More than 300 of Rousseau’s colleagues, friends, and family attended, and some guests acknowledged Rousseau’s legacy by sharing memories and monumental achievements that took place during his time as chair. During the event, Rousseau was presented with a portrait by artist Ross R. Rossin. The painting now hangs in the main lobby of the chair’s office.

ChBE Runners Win 200-mile Relay Race In March 2013, a team of twelve faculty and graduate students from the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering won the Dixie200, a 200-mile relay race from Atlanta, Ga., to Birmingham, Ala. The relay is split into thirty-six legs over two days, and the team finished with a time of 30 hours, 7 minutes, and 58 seconds. Beating 15 other teams, ChBE’s team, Runaway Reaction, crossed the finish line 10 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. Not only was the event an achievement for the runners, but it also served as a team building activity among members of the School. “I think we all really grew on each other,” says graduate student Lester Li. “That ‘barrier’ of sorts between faculty and graduate students quickly dissolved, and everyone was very supportive of one another. We were all sharing equipment, giving helpful tips, and cracking jokes by the end of the race.” Team Runaway Reaction was comprised of seven ChBE faculty members—Victor Breedveld, David Sholl, Pete Ludovice, Michael Filler, Julie Champion, Mark Styczynski, and Krista Walton—and five graduate students— Lester Li, Saujan Sivaram, Brian Kraftschik, Brian Setzler, and Sylvia Sullivan.

Assistant Professor Nga Lee “Sally” Ng stands in the new Georgia Tech Indoor Environmental Chamber Facility. Photo: Nick Burchell

With research in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering focusing on four strategic research areas– energy and sustainability, biotechnology, materials and nanotechnology, and complex systems–the opportunities to make a profound impact on society are endless. Here are some ways ChBE researchers are revolutionizing the world through novel techniques, discoveries, and advancements.

in the


Aerosols in the Environment Located in the School’s home, the Ford Environmental Science and Technology Building, the new Georgia Tech Indoor Environmental Chamber Facility is used to investigate how human activity affects aerosol formation and evolution, which in turn influence the environment and our health. The chamber allows researchers to conduct experiments studying aerosol formation under a very well-controlled environment over a wide range of parameters. This state-of-theart facility consists of two 10 m 3 Teflon chambers suspended in a 21’ x 12’ enclosure surrounded by UV lights and fluorescent sun lamps to achieve a temperature range between 4°C and 40°C. Ng Research Group

Cancer Research By investigating the role of bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) in tumor growth and metastasis, ChBE researchers have found that BMDCs rapidly accumulate in tumors, promoting tumor growth and metastasis through formation of blood vessels and degradation of extracellular matrix components. Better understanding of the migratory process of these cells and their role in the evolution of cancer is critical in developing new detection and treatment methods for this disease. Other areas of focus include improving gene delivery vectors, evaluating normal and malignant cell processes to develop cancer prediction models, and developing targeted stem cell-based gene delivery systems. Dawson Research Group



Nanowire Technology ChBE is reimagining the properties and uses of silicon, the world’s most ubiquitous semiconductor, by directing the stacking of atomic layers in silicon nanowires. Motivated by the promise of designing materials with entirely programmable atomic arrangements, ChBE researchers recently showed for the first time that the stacking of atoms in a silicon nanowire could be rationally manipulated. This work, which has been cited in the journal Nano Letters, will find use in fields ranging from electronics and photonics to energy conversion and catalysis. Filler Research Group

Pictured above: Professor Michael Filler Photos: Raftermen Photography (above) and Filler group (below)



Pictured: Professor Athanasios Nenes; Kate Cerully, ChBE graduate student; Ricardo Morales, EAS graduate student; and Katerina Bougiatioti, EAS postdoctoral researcher. Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek

Picture taken while Nenes group was sampling hurricane Earl from the NASA DC-8 aircraft on Aug. 30, 2010. Photo Courtesy Jane Peterson of NASA

Cloud Formation While scientists originally believed that particles coated by a mixture of combusted petroleum and biomass, or “goop” as it is often referred to, would form droplets at a slower rate than other particles, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests differently. Based on aerial and ground-based measurements of droplet formation from around the world, new research conducted jointly with the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS) shows that organic coatings on particles don’t seem to significantly affect the rate of cloud droplet formation. This reduces the impact that pollution can have on clouds and climate, providing a small but important step toward reducing the uncertainty in climate modeling. Nenes Research Group



Pictured: Professor Mark Prausnitz and graduate student Maria Elena Casas. Georgia Tech Photo: Rob Felt

Microneedles and Vaccination Microneedle patches are being used to apply vaccines to the skin in a painless, minimally invasive manner. In collaboration with Emory University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other organizations, ChBE is advancing microneedles from device design and fabrication through pharmaceutical formulation and preclinical animal studies, leading to studies in human subjects. In addition to developing a self-administered influenza vaccine using microneedles, the researchers are translating microneedle technology specifically to make vaccination in developing countries more effective.

Photo: Gary Meek Photography

Prausnitz Research Group




Georgia Tech Photos: Gary Meek


opens new possibilities



Modified, water-repellent paper could be the foundation for a new generation of inexpensive biomedical diagnostics. Paper has been a part of civilization for more than 2,000 years. Currently, paper products, composed primarily of cellulose fibers, are used extensively as writing media, packaging material, absorbents, and as simultaneous advertising vehicles within these applications. As a result, paper is the basis for a worldwide, multi-billion dollar industry. Its broad utility and popularity arises in large part from paper’s low cost, biodegradability, ready accessibility, and recyclability.




  he hydrophilic (water-loving) nature of cellulose fibers results in strong fiber-fiber bonding forces that enable fabrication of paper sheets; however, this material property also limits the use of paper in non-traditional applications. For instance, the hydrophilic and oleophilic (oil-loving) character of cellulose leads to uncontrolled and often undesired liquid absorption, which can compromise material strength and structural integrity. Paper manufacturers frequently reduce water absorption into their products by a method called sizing. In this approach, chemicals are added to the paper to hinder water entry; however, the extent of water resistance that can thus be achieved is marginal. If the inherent beneficial properties of bulk paper could be retained while altering only the surface interactions with fluids, new applications for paper may arise. Specifically, modifying the surface to control fluid wetting could extend the use of paper into cheap disposable garments, improve packaging materials, and have benefits in value-added fields such as microfluidic devices, biomedical diagnostics, and antibacterial surfaces, while maintaining advantages of traditional paper products. Many studies over the past 25 years have addressed how to make various surfaces superhydrophobic. The overall approach is to establish the appropriate level of surface roughness and then coat the substrate with a low-surface-energy material that does not wet easily (e.g., fluorocarbon or wax). This biomimetic approach was inspired by characteristics of the lotus leaf, which combines 2-scale roughness (micrometer-scale nodules covered with nanometer-scale hairs) with a waxy coating, and gives rise to superhydrophobicity and self-cleaning properties: water droplets easily roll off the leaf surface and carry dust and dirt with them. If such properties can be imparted to other materials, an extensive array of applications would result. Surface roughness has been generated on a variety of materials by lithographic methods and/or by depositing nanoparticles; typically a fluorocarbon layer is then formed on the roughened surface to establish superhydrophobicity. The addition of nanoscale structures to surfaces often is not mechanically stable, and even simple handling of the substrate can destroy the imparted changes.

Mechanically Robust Paper The School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering’s Professor Dennis Hess, Associate Professor Victor Breedveld, and Graduate Research Assistant Lester Li have taken a different approach to control the wetting properties of paper materials. Their method takes advantage of the inherent heterogeneous size, structure, and mechanical stability of cellulose fibers. Specifically, an oxygen plasma (ionized gas) is used to etch cellulose and thereby selectively remove the amorphous regions of the cellulose, leaving the crystalline (nanofibrils) regions protruding from the surface; this process establishes the roughness required to achieve superhydrophobic properties. Next, plasma deposition of a thin (~100 nm), strongly bonded fluorocarbon layer over the roughened cellulose fibers


completes conversion of hydrophilic cellulose surfaces into superhydrophobic surfaces where water droplets roll off the surface very easily. Furthermore, by altering the etching time to vary the roughness level, the adhesive force between the water droplet and the surface can be controlled. This allows paper surfaces to be made so that the water beads up, but the droplets either roll-off or stick, depending upon the roughness level created. A piece of paper that has undergone this treatment can be immersed in water for long periods of time, after which the water can be shaken off, leaving the paper unaffected.

Device Design and Fabrication Superhydrophobic paper can be inexpensively functionalized for specific applications by creating patterns on the surface. For example, patterns can be generated through the use of a desktop printer with a hydrophobic wax-like ink. Water droplets will adhere preferentially to the ink, and the patterns can be designed to manipulate the droplets. Ultimately, this process could lead to the design and operation of two-dimensional microfluidic devices for use in medical diagnostic testing. This approach means that superhydrophobic paper can serve as the starting point for custom-designed devices, where an end user creates specific patterns with simple software tools and a desktop printer.


Superomniphobic Paper

perhydrophobic paper surfaces, they have created unique suMaking a surface superoleophobic, or even superomnipho- peramphiphobic paper surfaces that resist wetting by a large bic or superamphiphobic (i.e., repelling all fluids), is difficult variety of fluids, including water, motor oil, ethylene glycol, and due to the very low surface tensions of oils. Although recent hexadecane. The ability of modified paper to repel these liqstudies have reported superamphiphobic surfaces, these in- uids can be seen in the image below. vestigations relied on the Future Opportunities generation of well-defined structures either by exSuch behavior enables the pensive high-tech pattern use of such materials for a Modifying the surface to control fabrication methods, such number of possible applifluid wetting could extend the use as those used in integratcations. For instance, paper ed circuit fabrication, or by containers for cans of moof paper into cheap disposable the use of woven materials tor oil currently rely on thick created through the exact garments, improve packaging mawax coatings to inhibit abrepetition of fiber sizes sorption of oil. If similar or terials, and have benefits in valueand spacing. In all cases, improved properties could geometrical overhang be achieved with surface added fields such as microfluidic or re-entrant structures conversion, reduced coatare required in order to devices, biomedical diagnostics, ing costs and increased achieve superoleophobic recyclability will result. In and antibacterial surfaces. properties. addition, paper surfaces that resist bio-fouling will Hess, Breedveld, and Li improve wound protection have used fiber curvaand food packaging. ture to establish these re-entrant geometries and have modified standard paper processing methods in order to suppress Yet, the approaches developed to create fluid-repellant surhydrogen bonding between fibers and achieve larger fiber faces are not limited to paper. The strategies can be and have spacings. In combination with the same plasma etching and been applied to other polymers and metals, greatly expanding fluorocarbon film deposition techniques that are used for su- the range of applications.



faculty news Honors & Accomplishments Julie Champion Georgia Tech CETL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award

Michelle Dawson - Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Faculty Award - Excellence in Teaching Award, Women in Engineering Michael Filler - Sigma Xi Young Faculty Award - NSF CAREER Award

Jay Lee Computing in Chemical Engineering Award, AIChE Hang Lu - Young Innovators Award, Analytical Chemistry - Human Frontier Science Program Grant - 2013 Dudley A. Saville Lecturer

Ronald Rousseau Founders Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Chemical Engineering, American Institute of Chemical Engineers

Peter Ludovice Appointed director of the Center for Academic Enrichment in the Office of Undergraduate Education

Athanasios Nenes Atmospheric Sciences Section Dennis Hess Ascent Award, American - Edward Goodrich Acheson Award, Geophysical Union The Electrochemical Society - Fellow of the American Chemical Nga Lee “Sally” Ng Society Early Career Award, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Christopher W. Jones - Curtis W. McGraw Research Award, American Society for Engineering Education - Paul H. Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis

Mark Styczynski NSF CAREER Award Yonathan Thio Excellence in Teaching Award, Women in Engineering Younan Xia Nano Today Award

New Faculty Appointment

Paul Kohl

Ryan Lively

Sigma Xi Sustained Research Award

Elsa Reichmanis Distinguished Woman in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry



Assistant Professor

ACS Catalysis Wins PROSE Award ACS Catalysis, a monthly online peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the American Chemical Society, has been awarded the Association of American Publishers’ 2012 PROSE Award for Best New Journal in Science, Technology & Medicine. Professor Christopher Jones is the journal’s editor-in-chief. ACS Catalysis publishes experimental and theoretical research and reviews aimed at solving urgent global challenges, drawing its content from the disciplines of heterogeneous, homogeneous, and enzymatic catalysis. Since its launch in January 2011, the journal has been embraced by the global catalysis community, with manuscript submissions surpassing expectation. “ACS Catalysis was launched amidst a crowded field of catalysis journals, but was the first (along with a journal of similar scope from the Royal Society of Chemistry, which was launched in parallel) to be published by a major scientific society without a commercial, for-profit publishing partner,” Jones says. Jones, New-Vision Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and adjunct professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was appointed Georgia Tech’s Associate Vice Provost for Research starting Nov. 1, 2013.

Eckert Graduates 100th Ph.D.

Charles A. Eckert, professor and J. Erskine Love Jr. Institute Chair in Engineering in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech, graduated his 100th Ph.D. student, Jackson Switzer, on June 12, 2013. Before coming to Georgia Tech in 1989, Eckert taught at the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and from 1980–86, he served as the school’s department head. Eckert’s first Ph.D. student graduated in 1969, and since coming to Georgia Tech, Eckert has had 57 Ph.D. students graduate under his direction. He anticipates having 7 more Ph.D. candidates graduate by 2016. He has also graduated 71 M.S. students. Eckert works jointly with Regent’s Professor and former Chair of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry Charles Liotta. While he is no longer taking on new students, Eckert plans to finish working with his current students and will continue research with postdoctoral fellows.

Photos Courtesy of ExxonMobil Public Affairs

alumni spotlight DECIE AUTIN ’80


early 9,000 miles away in Papua New Guinea, Decie Autin, ChE ’80, serves as a project executive for the ExxonMobil Development Company. She is leading a 22,000-person project management team to design and construct a $19 billion dollar project to commercialize natural gas from the Highlands of Papua New Guinea into liquefied natural gas. During her 33-

year career, Autin has traveled the world, living everywhere from New Orleans and Houston to Nigeria and Australia. However, chemical engineering wasn’t always on Autin’s career path. With an interest in biology, a captivation with building “The Six Million Dollar Man,” and a stomach too weak for medical school, Autin enrolled as a biomedical engineering student at the University of Louisville, where her father taught as a professor. When her father, Dr. Robert Burnett, became president of Armstrong Atlantic State University, her family moved to Savannah, and Autin transferred to Georgia Tech and enrolled as a chemical engineering major. While she says her physical chemistry class led to many sleepless nights, Autin’s experience in chemical engineering was positive, leading her to a successful career with ExxonMobil. “In chemical engineering, I was a member of the largest class in the nation at the time,” Autin says. “Because of this, I not only learned to be an engineer, but I was taught to compete, and at ExxonMobil, that has been very valuable. I’ve always appreciated not only the academic aspect of Georgia Tech, but that it also taught me to be competitive.” Upon graduation, Autin began working for Exxon in New Orleans. Yet even halfway across the U.S., her ties to chemical engineering and Georgia Tech remained strong. “I benefited from being an active,


young alumna because I had connections with people, both from the School and in my company,” she says. “Knowing people at work who went to Georgia Tech gave me a common place to strike up a relationship or discussion.” Because of Autin’s strong connection to her educational background and the successes she experienced, she started the Dr. Robert Burnett Scholarship in memory of her father, who passed away in 2004. “Education is very important to me, as my father was a professor of history and president of Armstrong Atlantic State University,” she says. “He was my mentor and role model growing up, and it makes me proud to honor his name.” As an active alumna who often represents ExxonMobil in recruitment events on campus, Autin traveled to Georgia Tech in March 2013 to present a check for more than $400,000 to her alma mater on behalf of ExxonMobil, an experience that Autin says made her very proud. Today in her free time, Autin enjoys visiting her two grown children and bird watching with her husband. “It’s great because you can do it anywhere,” she notes. And, each year, she makes time for a girls’ weekend with five of her closest friends, who all happen to be ChE ’80 graduates. “They have been great supporters and comrades as we have journeyed through life together,” she says. “Fortunately, all six of us made it through physical chemistry class.”



news & updates •

Jack B. Murray Jr. (BS ’69) retired from ExxonMobil’s law department after 31 years and now serves as a managing member of his own firm, J. B. Murray PLLC, in Fairfax, Va.

Shane Bechler (BS ’06) received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and accepted a position with Thermo Fisher Scientific in Sunnyvale, Ca.

EAB chair Carlos Barroso (BS ’80) was appointed Senior Vice President of Global Research & Development at Campbell Soup Company.

Vivek Sharma (MS ’06) accepted a faculty position in the department of chemical engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Ray W. Miller (BS ’72) was named chief business officer of Verdezyne, Inc. Miller is an Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni inductee at Georgia Tech.

Jason Hicks (PhD ’07) received the Frank O’Malley Undergraduate Teaching Award by Notre Dame’s student government for his outstanding service to students.

Paula Hammond (MS ’88) was featured in an episode of “Catalyst Film Series: Women in Chemistry,” produced by the Chemical Heritage Foundation. She is a David H. Koch professor of engineering at MIT.

Christos Fountoukis (MS ’05, PhD ’07) accepted a position as an assistant professor at the Cyprus Institute for the Environment in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Malisheia Douglas (BS ’96) joined the law firm of Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP as an associate.

Michelle Renee Corley (BS ’98) married Andrew Michael Galuski on Aug. 14 in Castries, St. Lucia. Michelle is a market development engineer for Techmer Engineered Solutions.

Ezequiel Zorrilla (BS ’04) and Gioconda Narvaez Zorrilla (CmpE BS ’04) celebrated the induction of their two-year-old son, Wolfgang Gutierrez Zorrilla, into America Mensa. Ezequiel is an international marketing manager in Miami. Enrique Michel-Sanchez (BS ’05) received PepsiCo’s prestigious Academy of Sciences Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of research and development associates.

Matt Keiser (BS ’08) joined O’Neal, an integrated design and construction firm in Greenville, S.C., as an engineer.

Rebecca Shiels Hicks (PhD ’08) accepted a position as the assistant director for research support for the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Notre Dame.

Donifan Barahona (PhD ’10) was promoted to civil servant status at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center after serving two years as a postdoctoral researcher.

Rich Moore (PhD ’11) was accepted into the twelfth Atmospheric Chemistry Colloquium for Emerging Senior Scientists.

Georgina Schaefer (BS ’11) married Christopher Waites and was promoted to a quality assurance manager position with one of Kemira’s oil and mining manufacturing plants.

Kathy Betty accepts the Dean’s Appreciation Award at the 2013 CoE Alumni Awards Induction Ceremony.

2013 CoE Alumni Awards The College of Engineering’s 2013 Alumni Awards Induction Ceremony took place on April 20, 2013, at The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Atlanta. External Advisory Board member Marsha A. Craig, ChE ’81, received the Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award, and both James F. Simmons, EAB member, and Paul H. Williams, ChE ’60, were inducted into the Engineering Hall of Fame. Kathy Betty (pictured above), whose husband Garry Betty, ChE ’79, was a member of the ChBE External Advisory Board and a special friend of the school, received the Dean’s Appreciation Award for her consistent efforts and support of Georgia Tech.

in memoriam Robert E. Brooks, BS ’48

Ben Leightman, BS ’39

Walter C.G. Saeman, BS ’40

Harvey G. Cagle, MS ’48

Jean F. Leon, BS ’80

William H. Schloenback, BS ’50

William J. Camp, BS ’48

Jack Norman Lincoln, BS ’44

George N. Spring Jr., BS ’38

Eric D. Culbreth, BS ’84

Victor O. Lopez, BS ’50

Robert McKinley Stafford, BS ’42

William W. Dowdy, BS ’53, MS ’63

Claude H. McIntosh, BS ’43

David A. Stivers, BS ’45

Alfred W. Ellerbee, BS ’56

Allen C. Merritt, MS ’69, PhD ’76

Lloyd C. Thayer Jr., BS ’51

David I. Gross, BS ’59

John G. Moss, BS ’54

Dale L. Thornborough, BS ’56

Barton L. Hinkle, PhD ’53

Oswald Newell Jr., BS ’46

Samuel B. Vaughn Jr., BS ’50

Mark Hollingsworth, BS ’86

Robert A. Pendergrast, BS ’43

Charles M. White, BS ’51, PhD ’55



student news From March 28-29, 2013, the School held the Annual Graduate Research Symposium, bringing together students, faculty, and industry representatives to showcase the latest research conducted by ChBE graduate students through posters and oral presentations.

The 2013 Air Products ChBE Undergraduate Research Symposium, which is designed to provide ChBE undergraduates who participate in research the opportunity to present their work in a public forum, took place on April 19.

Pictured to the left are the 2013 award recipients (l-r): Rachel Meltzer, Dan Russakow (Air Products), Jignesh Shah (Air Products), Dr. Cliff Henderson (ChBE Professor), Michelle Dose, Joshua Mysona, and Justin Eisenberg.



GRADUATE HONORS Leadership 2013 Symposium Chairs Himanshu Jasuja, Daniel Wei 2013 Teamwork Awards John Ahlfield, Maria Elena Casas, Natalie Girouard, Emily Jackson, Brennen Mueller, Mason Risely Teaching 2011 Fall Outstanding Teaching Assistants Ruben Kemmerlin, Aubrey Tiernan 2012 Spring Outstanding Teaching Assistant Erin Redmond 2012 Summer Outstanding Teaching Assistant Mustafa Alkhabbaz 2012 Fall Outstanding Teaching Assistants Kevin Rodriguez, Brian Setzler 2013 AIChE Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award Lester Li Research Accomplishments 2013 Ziegler Award for Best Paper Nicholas Burtch “Molecular-level Insight into Unusual Low Pressure CO 2 Affinity in Pillared MetalOrganic Frameworks,” JACS Himanshu Jasuja “Kinetic Water Stability of an Isostructural Family of Zinc-Based Pillared Metal-Organic Frameworks,” Langmuir 2013 Ziegler Award for Best Ph.D. Proposal Steven Burgess “PET Barrier Enhancement through Engineered Antiplasticization and Crystallization”

UNDERGRADUATE HONORS National Honors 2012 AIChE John J. McKetta Undergraduate Scholarship Award Taylor Roundtree 2013 NSF Fellowship Brian Seifried, Anna Thomas 2013 Fulbright Grant, 2012 Astronaut Scholarship Anna Thomas Accomplishments & Recognitions 2012-13 AIChE Minority Scholarship Award Briana Richardson AIChE Outstanding Senior Award Davina Morrow Air Products Foundation ChBE Outstanding Student Scholarship Ashleigh Dodd Albemarle Corporation ChBE Scholarship Sriram Suresh BASF Academic Excellence Award Sean Wood Chevron ChBE Scholarship Michael Descoteaux, Justin Goldberg, Kathryn Green, Amy Holt, Venous Layton, Mengjie Liu, Michael Parekh, Benjamin Sauk, Andrew Tricker, QuocAnh Vu Garry Betty Scholarship for International Studies Jonathan Kinney Outstanding Sophomore Award Natasha Deshpande


Thomas L. Gossage International Enrichment Scholarship Ziwei Cheng, Min Jeong Kim, Sandunie Liyanagamage, Shun Xi

2013 Outstanding Performance on the Qualifying Exams Sheng-Sheng Yu (written) Xiaotang Du (oral)

Suzanne C. and Duncan A. Mellichamp Jr. Scholarship Emily Ammons, Casey Hirschmann

2013 Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis Dun-Yen Kang 2013 Outstanding M.S. Thesis Michael Roy 2013 Outstanding PhD Proposal Gaurav Agrawal External Fellowship Recognition Air Products Graduate Fellowship Himanshu Jasuja DOE NEUP Fellowship Daniel Griffin NSF Fellowships Christine He, Tel Rouse, Aleksey Ruditskiy Semiconductor Research Corporation Fellowship Brennan Mueller NSF/IGERT Fellowship Dmitriy Boyuk, Saujan Sivaram NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Sylvia Sullivan

Shell Oil ChBE Freshmen Recognition Award Bethany Carnes, Quang Minh Kieu, Rachel Puechner, Allyson Rogers, Mary Townsend Tau Beta Pi Cup Eric Powers Leadership AIChE Student Chapter President Taylor Roundtree AIChE Student Chapter Vice President Matthew Weems ChBE Student Advisory Board President Sean Trainor ChBE Student Advisory Board Vice President Kathryn Black Omega Chi Epsilon Student Chapter President Rachel Smith Omega Chi Epsilon Student Chapter Vice President Maggie Burcham


Student Honors


In April, the School recognized student achievements and honors with a luncheon. This list represents a selection of awards received by graduate and undergraduate students during the 2012-13 school year. More than 100 students were recognized for their successes in areas such as academia, leadership, research, and teaching, as well as for fellowships, awards, scholarships.

John A. Ziegler presents the Ziegler Award for Best Ph.D. Proposal to Steven Burgess.

ChBE Magazine 2013  
ChBE Magazine 2013