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BREAKTHROUGH COLLABORATIONS IN HEALTH, ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT Multidisciplinary research and entrepreneurship creates lasting impact for science, business,

Photo Credit Onion Studio

and people’s lives.

A YEAR OF GROWTH AND BREAKTHROUGH COLLABORATIONS Dear friends, It is a great pleasure to present the 2016 issue of The Catalyst and share with you the exciting developments taking place in UB CBE. Our students and faculty continue to fulfill our mission as they push the boundaries of chemical and biological engineering through innovation and excellence in research, education, and socioeconomic impact. In this spirit, we continued our remarkable growth trajectory with the addition of our newest faculty member—the seventh since the fall of 2013—Dr. Eleni Kyriakidou from the Oakridge National Laboratory. Dr. Kyriakidou’s research interests focus on the synthesis and characterization of noble and non-noble metal solid catalysts to enable automobile engines to run cleanly and efficiently in order to meet imminent stricter federal emission regulations. This area adds a new dimension to our research portfolio and aligns well with university wide initiatives such as the UB2020 strategic plan. Our growth will continue as we are looking to add strength in key strategic research areas and complement broad university initiatives, such as those spearheaded by RENEW—UB’s newest Institute, devoted to strategic Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water (RENEW). New growth and partnership opportunities are being generated as CBE faculty are leading initiatives and establishing the research areas of highest priority for RENEW and other UB Centers and Programs.

4 NEW START-UP COMPANIES WERE LAUNCHED by UB CBE graduate students in a single year (see more info on pg 4)

Notably, our faculty and students have been engaging in an unprecedented level of entrepreneurial activity, turning innovative research into high tech businesses. Four startup companies were founded this past year to develop critical technologies and solve challenging problems in health, energy and the environment. As budding entrepreneurs, CBE students and recent graduates won UB and NY State wide business competitions and landed Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and NY State grants to support their companies. In very short time, these activities gained significant traction fueled by the burgeoning entrepreneurial culture fostered at UB and the city of Buffalo. The enrollment and qualifications of our graduate and undergraduate students continued to increase, as did our


| University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

students’ accomplishments. Among their many awards, senior Anna Smith received the prestigious and very competitive Goldwater Scholarship. It is a point of pride for all of us that 7 CBE undergraduate students have won this prestigious award in the past 4 years alone. It speaks volumes to the quality of our students and the mentorship they receive from our faculty.


357 Undergraduate 130 Graduate As we continue to educate tomorrow’s innovation leaders, we are also proud of our alumni who are changing the world. This spring we welcomed one of our own, Professor Ashutosh Sharma, currently India’s Secretary of Science and Technology, as our 2016 Ruckenstein Lecturer. Dr. Sharma, one of Professor Eli Ruckenstein’s former PhD students, delivered an inspiring lecture and attributed his success in large part to Eli’s mentorship and intellectual prowess. On behalf of the UB CBE family I thank all of you, alumni and friends, for your support and contributions in time and in treasure. I am particularly thankful to our alumnus Dr. Mohan Bhalodia who established a new Excellence Award for senior undergraduate students. I hope that you enjoy reading this newsletter as much as we enjoyed writing it. As always we love to hear from you through social media or during one of our visits to your area or your visit to UB. Please stay in touch,

STELIOS T. ANDREADIS Chair, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University at Buffalo

UB CBE FACULTY ACHIEVEMENTS Haiqing Lin has received the NSF CAREER Award for his proposal entitled: “CAREER:SusChEM: Design and Discovery of Polymers with Pendant Rings for Membrane Gas Separations”. The CAREER is one of NSF’s most prestigious awards for junior faculty who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” Mark Swihart was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Swihart was honored for “outstanding contributions in advancing fundamental understanding and practical implementation of processes for producing, functionalizing, and creatively applying inorganic nanomaterials.”

112 Publications from UB CBE faculty in a single year (up 23% from last year)

Stelios Andreadis has been selected to be Fellow of BMES for contributions in the fields of Stem Cells, Molecular Bioengineering, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. Haiqing Lin was also named Early Career Researcher of the Year from the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Jeff Errington received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. Errington is known in particular for developing and advancing the “Transition-Matrix Monte Carlo” (TMMC) method that is widely used by molecular modeling practitioners around the world.


Marina Tsianou was named Senior Teacher of the Year by the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.


Conference presentations and invited talks by our students and faculty

Edward Furlani has secured a grant for the Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Data Analytics (BIG) for $1.48M. BIG is a University at Buffalo program and key component of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s $100 million initiative to transform New York State into a national center for genomic medicine research. The contract with Garwood Medical Devices LLC (GMD) will create 40 new jobs in five years. Paschalis Alexandridis has been named a 2016 Fellow by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

UB CBE CONTINUES TO GROW UB CBE Welcomes Eleni Kyriakidou, who will join UB CBE as Assistant Professor in January, 2017. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the Fuels, Engines and Emissions Research Center. In her postdoctoral research in ORNL, Eleni developed a method to treat automobile exhausts for the regulated hydrocarbon (HC) emissions resulting from coldstarting engines. Her work on synthesis and characterization of novel catalytic materials that reduce automobile pollution is expected to have great environmental impact (see more about Kyriakidou lab research on pg 8).


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ENTREPRENEURSHIP From the Lab to the Community


Schematic showing self-endothelialization

Founded in December 2015 by Daniel D. Swartz, PhD, Sindhu Row, PhD, and Stelios T. Andreadis, Angiograft, LLC’s goal is to bring acellular tissue engineered vessels (A-TEV) to clinical trials and eventually commercialization. When tested in a large, preclinical animal model, A-TEVs remained patent, attracted host endothelial and smooth muscle cells to the graft site, developed vascular function, and fully integrated with the host native arteries. These self-healing vascular grafts can be available off the shelf—increasing their potential for clinical procedures requiring replacement of occluded or damaged blood vessels for patients with advanced heart disease, arteriovenous fistula grafts for hemodialysis patients, or replacement of vascular grafts for patients with peripheral artery disease.

Sindhu Row, PhD

Angiograft has participated in several business competitions, including the UB Panasci Competition, Start One, and 43 North. They’ve also attained substantial funding from a NIH SBIR from the National Heart and Lung Institute, as well a UB Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology grant from New York State, which are enabling and accelerating research and development efforts.

SMARTER VACCINES FOR MORE SUCCESSFUL OUTCOMES UB CBE PhD Charles Jones has started a company, Abcombi Biosciences Inc. (ABI), based on his research in Professor Blaine Pfeifer’s group. Abcombi utilizes proprietary screening technologies and disease progression models to develop “smart vaccines,” which enable a directed immune response to infectious organisms posing the greatest threat to a patient. Traditional vaccines do not offer such specificity.

Dr. Charles Jones (L) and Prof. Blaine Pfeifer (R)

Headquartered in Buffalo, ABI has been accepted as an inaugural member of the prestigious Johnson & Johnson incubator system in Toronto, Canada. Additionally, ABI has been active in economic development initiatives across the region, including START-UP NY and Launch NY. Jones is leading these efforts with duties including technical and business development, project management and deliverables, company vision, and local job creation. The company is backed by funds and investments provided by the NIH and the Bruce Holm Memorial Catalyst Fund, and has exclusive patent agreements with the University at Buffalo. Partnership and collaborative discussions are also underway with leading industrial, foundation, and government entities.


| University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

RECOVERING PRECIOUS METALS FROM INDUSTRIAL WASTEWATERS Each year, at least $4 billion of precious metals—such as gold, silver, palladium and platinum—are lost globally through waste effluents across the automotive, medical, computer, and solar industries. Since concentration of metals lost is as low as 0.1 ppm, recovery is a technical challenge. Poised to address this challenge is Shay Bioproducts, a start-up co-founded by CBE’s Mahmoud Kamal Ahmadi. Using a biological production system for nature-inspired metal-binding compounds, Ahmadi established a prototype operation dedicated to precious metal removal and recovery from industrial wastewater streams. Alternative applications for toxic metal removal from public and commercial water streams are also being developed.

Mahmoud Kamal Ahmadi

Ahmadi’s background is in biochemical and metabolic engineering, and he uses his time in the Blaine Pfeifer lab group and UB’s multidisciplinary research environment to bridge his engineering knowledge to new areas. He has participated in several UB-sponsored programs, including eLab and the recent Panasci competition, which helped him crystallize his vision for Shay Bioproducts. A recent PhD graduate, Ahmadi is currently securing grants for his new company. He is also considering a postdoctoral position that will extend his synthetic biology skills.

Depiction of the process necessary to prepare nature based metal scavengers through functionalizing a polymeric resin with bacterial produced siderophore yersiniabactin

GENERATING HYDROGEN POWER OUT OF THIN WATER Hydrogen fuel cell technology provides 2-3 times more specific energy density (Wh/kg) —and therefore runtime—compared to Li-ion batteries. However, limited hydrogen storage has hindered widespread use of fuel cells for portable applications. NanoHydro, formed by UB CBE PhD student Parham Rohani and UB Distinguished Professor Mark Swihart, uses nanoparticles that generate hydrogen gas from water at room temperature. The byproduct of energy conversion from hydrogen is water, making this fuel cell a green and environmentally sustainable technology. Rohani and Swihart’s research focuses on synthesis and application of nanoparticles prepared via a laser-induced pyrolysis of gas mixtures and can be used in various applications. They have the opportunity to explore this idea further through a grant from NEXUS-NY, a clean energy startup accelerator funded by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA). During NEXUS-NY’s phases I and II, they will work on customer discovery and business plan development, and in parallel, collaborate with industrial partners in the lab to reach technical milestones.

PhD candidate Parham Rohani

On-demand electricity generation from water using NanoHydro’s proprietary nanomaterial

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ENHANCING BIOMASS UTILIZATION FOR FUEL, CHEMICALS, AND COMPOSITE MATERIALS PRODUCTION Cellulosic biomass provides an abundant renewable feedstock that can be used for the production of valuable products such as polymers, chemicals, and fuels. For the preparation of high added value materials such as fibers, films, and composites, molecular-level dissolution of cellulose is preferred. Few known solvent systems can directly dissolve cellulose, and those that do involve rather exotic chemicals and strict operating conditions. A major barrier to the solubility of cellulose is its recalcitrance which originates from a partial crystalline structure and extended noncovalent interactions. However, the mechanism of solvent penetration into the micron-diameter cellulose fibers is not well understood. UB Distinguished Professor Paschalis Alexandridis, Associate Professor Marina Tsianou, and Ph.D. student Mohammad Ghasemi addressed these open questions in a number of manuscripts recently submitted for publication and in invited 6

| University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

lectures at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (San Diego, CA, March 2016). By developing a phenomenological model that captures the phenomena governing the dissolution of semicrystalline polymers as well as the thermodynamics and kinetics of dissolution, they gained insights into the swelling and dissolution of semicrystalline cellulose. Their model takes into account the complex and heterogeneous structure of cellulosic fibers and fits experimental data well, thus providing a microscopic description of macroscopic experimental information. Such improved understanding of the solvent characteristics affecting cellulose dissolution is expected to facilitate the selection of more efficient solvents and the optimization of solvent-processing conditions. See schematic to the right.



The Institute on Research and Education in Energy, Environment and Water (RENEW) at UB aims to advance energy, water, and environmental sustainability as a foundation for a regenerative economy through innovative interdisciplinary research across UB Schools in select focus areas. The vision of the RENEW focus area on “Next-Generation Materials for Energy, Environment & Water,” led by Professor Michel Dupuis (CBE), is to establish UB expertise and excellence in rational design of nextgeneration materials through closely integrated modeling and experimental research across SEAS (School of Engineering and Applied Sciences) and CAS (College of Arts and Sciences) departments, the CMI (NYS Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics), and the CDSE (Computational and Data-Enabled Sciences) Program.

The Li-air (O2) battery is a promising next-generation energy storage device with a theoretical energy density of 5280 Wh/kg that dramatically surpasses any conventional electrochemical power sources. However, many grand challenges (e.g., catalysis efficiency, safety, and durability) still hinder its practical applications. Replacing the flammable organic fluid electrolytes currently used in the batteries with highly Li+ conductive, fireresistant, and robust inorganic solid-state electrolytes is a critical milestone to address these issues. The successful incorporation of solid-state electrolytes into battery technologies requires an understanding of the associated Li+-O2 electrochemical reactions, i.e., oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and evolution reaction (OER) in solid-state air cathodes.

Materials design and discovery holds a critical place in the 21st century economy, with broad impact spanning the transportation, health, microelectronic, and renewable energy industries. Creating novel materials with combinations of properties that meet tailored functionalities and enhanced performance is a multidisciplinary challenge that requires rational design, e.g. development and use of computational tools validated through materials synthesis, characterization, and device-like measurements to accelerate the design, discovery, and time-to-market of new materials and devices. A seed project involving CBE Faculty aims to demonstrate rational materials design for novel and promising chalcogenidebased photovoltaics systems. Professors Akimov (CHEM), Dupuis (CBE, CDSE), and Furlani (CBE, EE) will focus on computational band structure engineering, career transport, and system modeling, Zeng (PHYS), Petrou (PHYS), and Mitin (EE) will focus on synthesis, characterization, and device measurements.

Schematic of cellulose dissolution process

In a new project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (CBET-1604392) entitled “Engineering Nanocarbon Air Cathodes for HighTemperature Solid-State Li-O2 Batteries”, Professors Gang Wu and Edward Furlani will study solid-state O2 electrocatalysis in a porous air cathode consisting of a new type of inorganic solid-state electrolyte and a nitrogen-doped nanocarbon bifunctional cathode catalyst. Understanding solid-state Li-O2 electrochemical reactions is key to solid-state battery technologies that operate at relatively high temperatures and have the potential to overcome serious safety, reversibility, and durability challenges facing the liquid-electrolyte batteries that are currently used. These studies in the Wu and Furlani laboratories will integrate sophisticated experimental and mathematical modeling strategies to advance fundamental understanding of superionic Li+ conductivity and high-catalytic activity in solid-state air cathodes. Ultimately their goal is to capitalize on the exceptionally high energy density offered by Li-O2 electrochemistry, laying a solid foundation for the innovative design of a well-controlled air cathode for solid-state Li-O2 batteries. Such high-energy density Li-O2 batteries will increase the driving distance of electric vehicles, making them a viable transportation option, with tremendous benefits for the environment.

The highest energy density of Li-air batteries (Reprinted from Energy Technology 2014, 2, 317) Catalyst Fall 2016

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CATALYSTS FOR COOL CARS As new vehicle engines become more efficient, the engine exhaust temperatures are lower than the typical operating range of catalysts. Therefore, innovative catalysts that operate at lower temperatures are needed to control the engine pollutants (e.g. nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons). The Kyriakidou research group focuses on important industrial targets for production of cutting-edge catalytic materials to meet the strict emission control regulations introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency, and utilizes common pollutants from internal combustion engines. The “Catalysts Design & Energy Applications� lab seeks to develop novel catalysts that enable clean and efficient operation of automobile engines. While the focus of the Kyriakidou group research is to gain an appreciable understanding of newly developed catalytic materials, the long-term goal is that these materials will someday be utilized by future internal combustion engine and hybrid vehicle technologies. The Material Characterization Laboratory at UB CBE’s Furnas Hall facilities will enable members of the Kyriakidou team to use a variety of experimental catalyst characterization techniques. Interactions with potential collaborators within other engineering departments and the broader UB research community will enrich student experience and facilitate their efforts in pursuit of understanding and synthesizing catalysts.


| University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Assistant Professor Eleni Kyriakidou

Core-shell structured oxide support, containing silica (SiO2) and zirconia (ZrO2) in its core (blue) and shell (green), respectively. Palladium (Pd) nanoparticles (red) are deposited onto the zirconia shell surface.


Professor Furlani (far left) and his graduate students implement models in UB Center for Computational Research to promote industrial innovation.

Research in Professor Ed Furlani’s laboratory involves multiscale modeling for the development of innovative materials and devices with features that are engineered from the nano- to macroscale. His students pursue fundamental research, but are also eager to obtain industrial modeling and design experience. To this end, they develop computational models to establish proof-of-principle of device or process concepts in advance of fabrication, which accelerates product commercialization by reducing development time and cost. In many instances, models are created using commercial computational software such as the COMSOL Multiphysics program, which enables customization of geometries, material properties, equation sets, etc. The students implement many of these models on high-performance computing clusters housed in UB’s Center for Computational Research (CCR), a state-of-the-art supercomputing facility. This enables highthroughput parametric analysis that is needed to determine optimum device or process performance. The group has leveraged this capability for projects sponsored by companies such as Xerox, S. Howes, and Vader Systems, a local startup company. In the case of Vader Systems, students have developed models to simulate a unique additive manufacturing technology that enables 3D printing of custom aluminum parts on demand. This technology is based on a proprietary process called Liquid Metal Jet Printing (LMJP) that involves the liquefaction of a solid aluminum feed wire and the subsequent ejection of molten droplets using a pulsed electromagnetic field. LMJP, which mimics inkjet printing, is based on the principles of magnetohydrodynamics, i.e. the manipulation of conductive fluids using a magnetic field. Complex 3D structures are printed by depositing layers of molten aluminum droplets that coalesce and solidify into a predefined shape. Furlani’s group has developed models that simulate the electromagnetic and fluid dynamic (droplet ejection, coalescence, solidification) processes of LMJP as shown in the figure. Such modeling provides invaluable design experience for students. It also has direct economic impact by enabling companies to leverage faculty expertise as needed to develop new technologies and accelerate product development at reduced cost using student support.

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IMPROVED DISPERSION AND REMEDIATION OF OIL SPILLS Crude oil and its refined products are produced and consumed in enormous quantities. Most drilling and transportation are done at sea, thus increasing the likelihood of oil spills in water with dire consequences on the environment. There are three main ways of dealing with oil spills, mechanical, chemical, and biological. Chemical methods employ the use of dispersants that primarily act to disperse oil in water by stabilizing oil-water interfaces, but are also interacting with particulates dispersed in sea-water and macroscopic surfaces. Biological treatment comes in the form of bioremediation by hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria; in order for these to consume water-insoluble oil, the oil has to become dislodged from surfaces and be dispersed in small droplets.

“I enjoy the technology and believe in the long run, renewable energy is just going to keep becoming more important.” JAMES S. FALSETTI Director at BQ Energy

In research supported by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) and the European Union, Marina Tsianou, Paschalis Alexandridis, and several UB CBE students have been studying the formulation of dispersants and the interactions at mineral-oil-water interfaces to combat marine oil spills. They are exploring the potential of utilizing “natural” dispersants including asphaltenes, biosurfactants produced by microorganisms, or colloidal aggregates (oil-mineral aggregates, OMAs or marine snow). They are also researching use of functional polymers or surfactants to control the adhesion of crude oil to solid surfaces and the use of dispersants to dislodge oil that has already adsorbed on such surfaces. Fundamental knowledge generated from this work may lead to development of dispersants with reduced amounts of chemicals, cost, and environmental impact. This research may also provide recommendations on how shorelines can be cleaned after an oil spill and on potential treatments to prevent oil attachment to solid surfaces, ultimately lessening the effects of environmental disasters.


| University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Photo Credit Onion Studio

TURNING BROWNFIELDS INTO SUSTAINABLE ENERGY SOLUTIONS James S. Falsetti, UB CBE Class of ’78, is a Director at BQ Energy, a company focusing on providing wind and solar energy solutions for institutions like UB looking to reduce their carbon footprint and mitigate their environmental impact. Since graduating from UB, Jim has worked in the energy industry, and has held executive positions at Texaco and Shell. He also holds an MBA from Columbia University. At Texaco, Falsetti had many jobs over his 20+ year tenure, and although they were in different areas—refinery process operations, engineering, R&D, technology licensing and sales, project development, and management— he credits UB CBE for providing the skills to be successful: “At UB, we had to be dedicated to solving the problem and sticking with it until it’s completed. These are skills you need in both large and small organizations.” When Texaco was purchased by Chevron in 2001, he struck out on his own, providing expert services to other energy companies, and also developing energy projects. In 2003, he joined a former Texaco colleague at BQ Energy, a company dedicated to developing wind energy plants on industrial brownfields. Brownfields are attractive for wind energy projects as they are often located on coastal regions, where wind currents are usually strong. Other site assets favoring redevelopment include existing power lines and ready access to transportation. During 2004, BQ Energy landed at the former Bethlehem Steel Plant in Lackawanna, on the coast of Lake Erie, which had ceased operating in 1985, and by 2007, had started up the first

phase of the 35 MW Steel Winds project. In 2008, BQ Energy expanded its scope to include closed landfills and solar energy photovoltaic projects. During 2012, BQ Energy began developing a 4 MW solar energy project where the electricity will be used by the University at Buffalo. The project is under construction now and will be operational before the end of 2016. It’s helping UB to meet its sustainability goals using carbon-free electricity. In addition to the Lackawanna projects, BQ Energy owns and operates two landfill projects, has 15 MW of projects in construction, and another 50 MW in advanced development. Thinking back to his own start at UB CBE, Falsetti remembers many good professors, with a special memory of an alumni favorite, Dr. Tom Weber, who as he recalls, was “Very dynamic, a great instructor. I remember how, when I first encountered problems with the trial-and-error method, he moved me along to enjoy solving the problems. He was an excellent teacher.” Currently, he is a member of the department’s advisory board, and an enthusiastic supporter of the department’s annual fund, which provides support for student awards, upgrades of student meeting, research and learning spaces, and other initiatives that help provide excellent learning opportunities for our students. “My wife, and my late brother, father, and mother all went to UB, so one of the main reasons that I support it is because of my family’s relationship; it’s in honor of their memory.”

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MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR INVESTMENT in the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus Generates Research Opportunities for CBE Students and Faculty

UB is building a center of expertise that will make Western New York a national leader in health care, medical research, and mentored research training. The new 628,000-sq-ft medical school located in downtown Buffalo, NY, will be a $375 million showcase facility, funded in part by NYSUNY 2020 legislation. The UB Medical School plans to add more than 100 new physician-scientists, fostering

campus conducting research in genomics, high-throughput sequencing, bioinformatics, and proteomics research in collaboration with biomedical scientists and physicians throughout the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. • Members from Professor Sriram Neelamegham’s laboratory are working with Professor John M. Canty at the Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC). Their efforts combine basic science concepts with state-of-the-art large animal models to develop novel methods to improve heart function following myocardial infarction. • For Assistant Professor Natesh Parashurama, the downtown

high-profile collaborations and creating the synergy to attract

CTRC campus has facilitated relationships with collaborators in

funding and advance medical science. The facility houses

the UB Departments of Medicine and OBGYN regarding the

eight floors, an interior seven-story glass atrium, state-of-the

applications of human pluripotent stem cells for understanding

art laboratory space, sky-bridge connections to the adjacent

human development and modeling diseases. In vivo molecular

hospital and medical buildings, and a built-in NFTA-Metro rail

imaging tools that he is developing involve translation medical

station for convenient public access.

imaging, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Positron

The interdisciplinary nature of these research centers provides ample resources for Chemical and Biological Engineering faculty to expand their project base and conduct even more groundbreaking research in the healthcare field. Currently, several UB CBE faculty spend time at the downtown 12

| University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Emission Tomography, and are available at the downtown campus and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). His research is creating exciting new collaborations with the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and the Center for Immunotherapy at Roswell Park.

• The Pfeifer group has collaborated with members of the

• Professor Stelios Andreadis’ collaborations with several laboratories at CTRC, Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics

Microbiology and Immunology Department, including Drs.

and Life Sciences (CBLS), Biochemistry and Physiology,

Anders Hakansson and Paul Knight. This work is also in

and Biophysics aim at understanding the role of stem cells

collaboration with Abcombi Biosciences, a Buffalo-based

in human disease by developing novel animal models

startup company focused on vaccine development founded

and exploring novel animal imaging technologies as well as

by Dr. Charles Jones, a PhD student from the department.

to develop stem cell therapeutics for regenerative medicine. These collaborative efforts culminated in a new training

of facilities and centers that have been built around the

program, Stem Cells in Regenerative Medicine (SCiRM)

Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus since 2006, including the

that was recently funded by NYSTEM. SCiRM is led by

Hauptmann Woodward Medical Research Institute, the

Drs. Stelios Andreadis (UB CBE), Sriram Neelamegham

Clinical Translation Research Center (CTRC), the UB Center of

(UB CBE), and Richard Gronojstajski (UB Biochemistry) and brings together 18 faculty from the UB School of Engineering, School of Medicine, and RPCI to train eight graduate students per year for five years to advance stem cell biology and bioengineering and develop innovative technologies to accelerate clinical translation of stem cell research.

The new medical school is the latest addition to a number

Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS), Kaleida Health Hospitals, the new Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, The Thomas R. Beecher, Jr. Innovation Center (including DIG), and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, its Center for Genetics and Pharmacology, and the new Clinical Sciences Center, which are all either connected or within walking distance from the school.

REVERSING STEM CELL AGING: THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH? Aging is a complex process that affects every organ in the body and correlates with the emergence of devastating diseases, including atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s. Our body holds a powerful reservoir of nonspecialized cells that can regenerate our organs: the resident stem cells. However, as we age the stem cell reservoir becomes depleted and the regenerative capacity of stem cells declines significantly. In a recent publication in the journal Stem Cells, the Andreadis lab reported a novel method to restore the ability of aged stem cells to give rise to smooth muscle cells, a type of cell residing in the wall of numerous organs, including arteries, where smooth muscle cells regulate blood flow by constricting or dilating the arterial wall. Our results showed that the capacity of stem cells to form contractile muscle declines significantly with aging. Remarkably, introduction of a single gene that is present in embryonic stem cells, NANOG completely restored the capacity of aged stem cells to form functional muscle. NANOG restored the activity of biochemical pathways leading to formation of the actin cytoskeleton, which was severely impaired in aged cells, suggesting that cellular aging could be reversed by re-activating the molecular machinery that keeps the cells “young.” These findings were confirmed in three independent models of aging: i) donor aging (cells isolated from aged donors); b) cellular senescence (cells aged in culture); and c) cells isolated from patients suffering from Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, an accelerating aging disease. Current studies in the Andreadis lab focus on the effects From left: These images show functioning stem cells, stem cells no longer functioning due to Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome (HGPS) and stem cells previously not functioning due to HGPS that were rebooted by the embryonic stem cell gene Nanog. Image: Stelios Andreadis.

of NANOG on other types of muscle such as skeletal or cardiac muscle, both of which are severely affected by aging, as well as on discovering small molecules that may mimic the effects of NANOG, thereby enabling drug development to reverse the effects of aging. Catalyst Fall 2016

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IT’S A SUGAR-COATED WORLD Carbohydrates or complex sugars form a brush-like coating on all mammalian cells, and emerging knowledge suggests that such entities also decorate a wide variety of microorganisms. The sugar structures on each of these cell types are uniquely defined by biochemical reaction pathways within intracellular compartments, particularly the Golgi apparatus. During cancer, the biochemical pathways in cells change and carbohydrate structure changes are prominent. Due to this, common cancer biomarkers like CA19-9 and CA125 actually recognize new carbohydrate expressed by cells in the tumor. The study of carbohydrates is complex, but new technologies are opening up the field rapidly. The Neelamegham laboratory at CBE uses a genome editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9 to study the pathways regulating carbohydrate biosynthesis. In a recent article that appears in the journal Scientific Reports (June 26 2016, Professor Sriram Neelamegham

they dissect the relative contributions of different types of carbohydrates called O-glycans, N-glycans, and glycolipids in regulating white blood cell localization at sites of inflammation (Fig. 1). Such basic science knowledge can lead to new drugs that can serve as anti-inflammatory molecules and these same entities may also reduce cancer metastasis.

Fig. 1


| University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Professor Natesh Parashurama

MAKING HUMAN LIVER TISSUE ON DEMAND The human liver, the largest internal organ in the body, has 500 known functions, including metabolism, detoxification, and protein synthesis. An alarming surge in liver diseases has resulted in increasing demand for new liver-based diagnostics, disease models, and therapies. Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC), an emerging biotechnology which can become any cell in the body, can in theory meet this demand. However, fully mature, functional hepatocytes have not been procured from hPSC, and new approaches are needed. Natesh Parashurama, who joined UB CBE in early 2016, is addressing this issue with several collaborators at the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and the UB Clinical & Translational Research Center. Rather than focus on making functional liver cells in a dish, he aims to build personalized, 3D functional liver tissues from hPSC. To accomplish this unique feat, his group is devising new bioprocesses, based on bioengineering principles. In part, he will investigate how a “tuft� of liver precursor tissue, bearing only ~100 cells, can increase in mass by a million fold in 1-2 weeks, with appropriate microarchitecture at the micron scale. This may prove to be an efficient strategy for engineering 3D, functional liver tissue for treatment of liver disease, and a test bed for pharmaceuticals, disease modeling, diagnostic development, and basic science applications.

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NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR VACCINE DISCOVERY, DELIVERY AND DEVELOPMENT In this work published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Drs. Charles Jones and Blaine Pfeifer, in collaboration with other UB researchers, describe the application of novel antigens used to vaccinate against pneumococcal disease, which afflicts millions worldwide (primarily the young, elderly, and resource limited). The results show broad protection against the disease with a unique aspect of targeting only those bacterial cells that have been triggered to cause disease. Yi Li, a current doctoral student of Dr. Pfeifer, was lead author on the work with contributions from Marie Beitelshees, another doctoral student in the Pfeifer group. Dr. Jones was a former student of Dr. Pfeifer’s and is now leading vaccine development efforts as CEO of Abcombi Biosciences, founded by Drs. Jones and Pfeifer.

New approach to vaccinate against pneumococcal disease (caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae). (A) S. pneumoniae colonizes the human nasopharynx and produces a bacterial biofilm with an accompanying extracellular matrix capable of providing protection from external and host challenges. External triggers such as viral infection prompt the active release of virulent pneumococci that disseminate to secondary sites and cause disease. (B) Leading vaccination strategies (polysaccharide conjugates vaccines [PCVs], such as the Prevnar family) mediate protection against certain bacterial serotypes by promoting clearance of pneumococci prior to biofilm establishment. By clearing all bacteria, the niche will be replaced by non-vaccine serotypes or other bacterial species. (C) The strategy featured in this work mediates clearance of only virulent biofilm-released bacteria while simultaneously maintaining the presence of the pre-existing biofilm.


| University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

MAKE A CHARITABLE DONATION Your support is vital to UB CBE’s success, providing the difference between funding what is necessary and what is possible. Donors to our annual fund allow bright, hard-working students to fulfill their dreams and complete their degrees through scholarships and fellowships. They advance the profession by funding groundbreaking research, and they provide resources to furnish facilities and purchase the latest technologies for faculty and students. A gift from you in any amount helps UB CBE make critical investments and recruit and retain the best students and faculty.

JOIN THE DELTA SOCIETY Members of the Delta Society—those who give $1,000 or more annually—make critical investments in the continued success of the department. The society represents distinguished donors who share our vision and commitment to high-quality education, innovation in research, and community service. Delta—a commonly used engineering term—means “difference”. By becoming a member of UB CBE’s Delta Society, you’re making a difference for students and for the future of our school. To make a gift, simply go online to or call us at 716.645.1174. Thank You!

“With your support, we will continue to prepare our graduates to enter the workforce ready to serve as leaders of tomorrow’s industry. Your partnership helps us make this happen.” Liesl Folks, PhD, Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Catalyst Fall 2016 | 17


MAKING AN IMPACT ON FUTURE GENERATIONS UB SYMPOSIUM ON COMPUTATIONAL SCIENCE The second annual UB Symposium on Computational Science: An Industrial and Career Perspective was held in April 2016. This full-day event addressed the questions of students who work (or plan to work) in the computational research groups at UB once they conclude their university education. Following the invited speakers, several dozen students from various departments shared their experiences of working at companies and organizations such as Kitware Inc, Q-Chem Inc, Nexight Group, Samsung Corning, NIST, NREL, and NIH. The presentations were followed by an insightful panel discussion.


The symposium was organized by the Hachmann group and

The University at Buffalo has established a new Engineers

the new GSA Computational Science Club (CSC), under the

Without Borders student chapter (EWB-UB), spearheaded

leadership of CSC President Mohammad Atif Faiz Afzal and

by Olha Ryabova, a chemical engineering junior who is now

Faculty Advisor Johannes Hachmann. This year, the symposium

serving as the chapter’s first President. Her efforts were

was incorporated into the 2nd Annual UB CDSE Days, which

supported by faculty advisors Johannes Hachmann, Johannes

were co-organized by UB CBE faculty Michel Dupuis and

Nitsche, and faculty from other departments.

Johannes Hachmann, and featured keynote speaker Thom

Engineers Without Borders is a non-governmental organization dedicated to international development and service of disadvantaged communities through engineering projects. Its goals include fostering global collaboration and partnerships, instilling students with cultural awareness and an international perspective, and bringing positive change through the study and implementation of environmentally and economically responsible engineering practices.

Speakers and organizers of the symposium: UB alumnus Frederick Phelan, Jr. (NIST), Changwon Suh (Nexight Group), Mohammad Atif Faiz Afzal (UB), Marcus Hanwell (Kitware), Alex Sodt (NIH, Q-Chem), and Johannes Hachmann (UB)


| University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Dunning, who presented on advanced computing in the chemical disciplines.

2016 BARRY GOLDWATER SCHOLARSHIP AWARDEE Congratulations to UB CBE undergraduate student Anna Smith,


who has won the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. She will

UB CBE Undergraduate student Meghan O’Leary won the

receive up to $7,500 per year to cover educational expenses for

Nicholas Chopey Scholarship, awarded by Chemical Engineering

her pursuit of a graduate degree in engineering.

Magazine. The scholarship was established in 2007 to honor

Smith left her position as a professional makeup artist in France, once she realized the potential that a career in STEM could offer. In the summer of 2016, she was a researcher in the National

the memory of Nicholas (Nick) P. Chopey, the magazine’s former Editor In Chief, by continuing his contributions to the chemical engineering profession.

Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network Research Experience

The scholarship assists third-year students who are enrolled in

for Undergraduates program, in Stanford University’s chemical

full-time undergraduate study in Chemical Engineering at one

engineering department, designing an artificial eye camera that

of six select colleges or universities, including the University

conforms to the shape of an eye sensor. Her experience also

at Buffalo. Scholarship recipients are selected on the basis

includes working with the College of Nanoscale Science and

of academic record, demonstrated leadership, and participation

Engineering within SEMATECH, and Micron Technology.

in school and community activities, honors, work experience,

In addition to her research accomplishments, Smith has a strong

and a statement of goals and aspirations.

interest in community service and encourages promising students in underrepresented groups to follow STEM careers. When she earns her PhD, her plans are to become an interdisciplinary researcher and start a company based on innovative research and development of materials and electronics. Smith is the seventh UB CBE student to win the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship since 2012, which was established by Congress in honor of Sen. Barry Goldwater.

Catalyst Fall 2016

| 19


Shay Bioproducts, a technology platform that is used to recover and reuse precious metals from industrial waste. All participants will be offered co-working space in the Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Innovation Center in the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus. Read more on Ahmadi and Shay Bioproducts on page 5. PHDS PARHAM ROHANI AND CHARLES JONES WIN FIRST PLACE AWARDS IN STATE-WIDE BUSINESS COMPETITION


completing her PhD in Dr. Pfeifer’s

Yumiao Zhang, a PhD student in

Read more on Abcombi Biosciences

Chemical and Biological Engineering and

on page 4.

the Mark Swihart lab and Charles Jones

Biomedical Engineering, is the recipient

from the Blaine Pfeifer lab. Both won

of the 2015 Chinese Government


$10,000 in cash and in-kind services for

Award for Outstanding Student Abroad. This prestigious international honor recognizes Yumiao’s impressive scholarly

Biosciences while Beitelshees is laboratory.

achievements as a doctoral student. No

The Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology

more than 500 young talents worldwide

Entrepreneurship Competition

are granted the award each year. This

was created by the UB School of

honor includes a $6,000 prize and a

Management and the UB Office of

Congratulations to Parham Rohani from

presentations in their respective fields. The Rohani team won in the NYSERDA Energy/Sustainability track for their project, NanoHydro. Jones’ team was selected in the Biotechnology/Healthcare track for his company Abcombi Bioscience. UB CBE is particularly proud to have two teams in the top six out of

certificate of achievement issued by the

Science, Technology Transfer and

China Scholarship Council. Yumiao is

Economic Outreach. Funded with a

the only winner from the University at

$1 million endowment from the late

The NYS Business Competition is the only

Buffalo in the past four years. Yumiao is a

Henry A. Panasci Jr., the program

leading collegiate business competition


brings together UB students from

that is a regionally coordinated,

science, technology, business, and other

collaborative statewide program. With

disciplines to maximize their potential

over $500,000 in prizes annually, it is

and create viable businesses in Western

one of the largest collegiate business

New York. UB CBE PhDs Charles Jones,

competitions in the world.

Charles Jones and Marie Beitelshees

Mahmoud Kamal Ahmadi, and UB CBE

were recently selected for participation

Associate Professor Blaine Pfeifer will

in Bright Buffalo Niagara, a local

collect $10,000 for their venture,

entrepreneurial competition to encourage commercial translation of their prior and ongoing doctoral research projects. The duo represented Abcombi Biosciences, a vaccine development company Jones formed in 2015 with CBE faculty member Blaine Pfeifer, and claimed the grand prize which included a $20,000 cash award. Jones is the CEO of Abcombi 20

over 500 teams statewide.

| University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Read more on Jones and Rohani on pages 4 and 5. PHD STUDENT MOHAMMAD ATIF FAIZ AFZAL WINS TWO AWARDS Congratulations to Mohammad Atif Faiz Afzal, who won the UB Engineering Alumni Association’s Professor Emeritus Howard Strauss Memorial Scholarship Award for $1,000. Atif received his award on

April 7 at the UB Engineering Awards

He presented his poster “Biosynthetic

night in Davis Hall. He also recently

Engineering and Green Manufacturing

received the Ovshinsky Honorable

Applications for Siderophore

Mention Travel Award from the

Yersiniabactin” and received his award

American Physical Society Division

at the 2015 AIChE on November 11.

of Materials Physics.



The 18th annual Graduate Student

Parham Rohani of the Mark Swihart

School of Chemical & Biomolecular

The 19th annual Graduate Research

lab and UB School of Management

Engineering, Georgia Institute of

Symposium date was Friday, September

student Naeim Khanjani participated

Technology, Atlanta. His talk was entitled

23, and featured Mehmet Toner,

in the UB Entrepreneurship Lab (UB

Research Symposium was held in October

UB CBE’s Amin Jafari, presenting his research

2015, and featured Professor David Sholl,

“Using High Throughput Computation

who is Professor of Surgery (Biomedical

eLab) competition and won a prize of

to Accelerate Development of Materials

Engineering) at the Massachusetts

$6,000, a shared space at the UB Office

for Scalable Energy Technologies.”

General Hospital, Harvard Medical School,

of Science, Technology Transfer and

and the founding director of the NIH

Economic Outreach (STOR), mentorship,

BioMEMS Resource Center.

and other professional services for the Infinite Clean Energy (ICE) project, which generates hydrogen gas from water. The technology was developed by Rohani as part of his doctoral dissertation work in the Swihart Lab. The eLab is a business boot-camp-style course held during the three-week winter session that gives students from

Professor David Sholl

any academic discipline the skills to develop and manage a successful new venture. Students evaluate their ideas throughout the course, learning every step of the startup process and attending guest lectures by entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, consultants, and business lawyers. Parham is also participating in the Nexus-NY program, which awarded him a $10,000 grant for customer discovery and business planning activities. MAHMOUD KAMAL AHMADI, PHD CANDIDATE, IS 2015 AICHE POSTER WINNER Congratulations to Mahmoud Kamal Ahmadi from the Blaine Pfeifer lab on being selected as one of the FPBE poster award winners at the AIChE meeting.

The symposium also included two


lectures from PhD candidates within the

As an alumni and friend of UB

department. Mahmoud Kamal Ahmadi

Chemical and Biological Engineering,

presented “Biosynthetic Engineering

you are in a unique position to help

and Green Manufacturing Applications

our efforts for excellence in teaching

for the Nonribosomal Peptide-Polyketide

and student research for generations

Siderophore Yersiniabactin,” and

to come. By remembering UB CBE

Mohammad Ghasemi discussed

in your will or charitable trust, you’ll

“Dissolution of Semicrystalline Polymers:

help ensure that others will benefit

Insights for Efficient Biomass Utilization

from an outstanding education in

Obtained by Phenomenological Modeling.”

the years ahead. To find out more,

In addition to the main lectures, students presented more than 65 research posters, with prizes awarded to the top three posters and a fourth for students’

contact Paula Devereaux in the UB School of Engineering at 716-645-0969 or Thank you.

choice. Alumni, UB faculty, and members of the UB CBE Advisory Board served as volunteer judges. Catalyst Fall 2016

| 21


RECONNECTING WITH COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS UB CBE WELCOMES THE CLASS OF ‘66 Graduates from the UB CBE’s inaugural class (class of 1966) gathered back at their alma mater on June 23, 2016 to celebrate a 60-year reunion. They toured the department facilities and laboratories, spoke with graduate students, and shared memories of their time at CBE and how learning and technologies have changed over the years—from punch cards to big data. Favorite professors of the group included Sol Weller, Ken Kiser, and Tom Weber (see back cover), and many nostalgic— sometimes colorful—stories were told. Before lunch, the group posed for a photo to update their original graduation shot in 1966. Many thanks to CBE alumnus Keith Wilson for organizing the visit. If you would like to organize a visit for your class, let us know at We will be happy to see you!

Back row: Russ Miller, Keith Wilson, George Kosanovich, Mike Petz Middle row: Mike Berg, Tom Marlin, John Mendrykowski Bottom row: Dave Andrews, Jerry Zakalik, John Lenczyk

Back (left to right): Keith Wilson, Michael Berg, Tom Marlin, George Kosanovich, John Mendrykowski, CBE Grad students Andrew Kroestch and Mohammad Ghasemi, Stelios Andreadis Front (left to right): CBE Grad student Zhiqi He, Dave Andrews, Jerry Zakalik, John Lenczyk, Sindhu Row


| University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

ASHUTOSH SHARMA VISITS UB Professor Ashutosh Sharma is an internationally renowned scientist and recently appointed Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology of India. He returned to UB as the 2016 Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering Ruckenstein Lecturer on April 15, 2016. While in Buffalo, he also received the 2016 Distinguished International Alumni Award. Sharma, who earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering from UB in 1988, spent part of his visit meeting with faculty and students and learning about their research and education endeavors. He also visited Professor Ruckenstein to discuss current research activities.

Professor Ashutosh Sharma delivering the 2016 Ruckenstein Lecture

During his visit, Sharma and UB President Tripathi signed a Memorandum of Understanding enabling UB to join a small group of elite U.S. universities participating in the new doctoral fellowship program offered by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) of India. The SERB Fellowship provides funding support each year for up to five outstanding Indian students admitted to UB doctoral programs in STEM fields. UB was invited to participate for the first time this year, and nominated ten excellent students admitted to six different doctoral programs at UB.

“I certainly owe UB and Dr. Ruckenstein a great deal in shaping my story. The strong research ethos here encouraged me to think independently and take multidisciplinary approaches. His advocacy and personal example of hard work, creativity, and overall excitement about the research were my inspiration.”

SAVE THE DATE FOR THE ANNUAL RUCKENSTEIN LECTURE SERIES The ninth annual Ruckenstein Lecture is scheduled for Friday, May 5, 2017. The event will feature Kristi Anseth, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder. All alumni are invited to join us for the lecture and a reception immediately following.

UB CBE INVITES YOU TO JOIN US AT THE ANNUAL AICHE MEETING Monday, November 14, 8 PM – 10 PM Ice cream and cordials reception hosted by Stelios Andreadis and the CBE Faculty at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Yosemite C Catalyst Fall 2015

| 23




303 Furnas Hall, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York Buffalo, NY 14260-4200



Dr. Mohan Bhalodia recently created an endowment through the UB Foundation in memory of his parents and his wife, Rasila Bhalodia. The endowment will be used to establish the Professor Thomas W. Weber Undergraduate Excellence Award. Dr. Weber was the mentor and advisor of Dr. Bhalodia. The award will be presented each year to a deserving student in the department.

Mohan Bhalodia

Thomas W. Weber

During his graduate studies, Dr. Bhalodia majored in Process Control, which led to a nearly 40-year career in the control field with some of the world’s leading petroleum companies, including Exxon Mobil and a BP Refinery in Spain. He worked closely with operations, process engineers, and control engineers in analyzing refinery operations and developing high-value advanced control applications. Now semi-retired, he is a hands-on consultant to petroleum refineries and chemical plants. He is actively collaborating with academia, providing honorary service as an industry-Academic Associate to IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), Gandhinagar, India.

Photo from Buffalo Courier-Express Newspaper, June 6, 1971: Bhalodia and Weber move process control simulator panel into the classroom.

“My contribution to the UB Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering is a token of my appreciation of my alma mater,” says Dr. Bhalodia. You can learn more about Mohan Bhalodia on the Faces of CBE web pages at For more information on creating your own legacy for UB CBE, contact Paula Devereaux in the UB School of Engineering at 716-645-0969 or Thank you.

Profile for UB CBE

The Catalyst fall 2016  

The annual newsletter of UB Chemical and Biological Engineering

The Catalyst fall 2016  

The annual newsletter of UB Chemical and Biological Engineering

Profile for ubcbe