ChBE Department Update - Summer 2014

Mentoring PictureMentoring Program Connects Alumni and Students

Six months after it was first implemented, ChBE’s mentoring program is proving to be beneficial to student and alumni participants alike.

“This program provides an ideal outlet to give back to the younger generation of engineers and makes you feel great sharing and helping others,” says Jay Witherspoon (ChemEngr’81).

The ChBE Alumni Student Mentoring Program (ASMP) was first proposed by the department’s External Advisory Board in 2013. Since it was rolled out to sophomores and juniors in the spring of 2014, 65 students have been matched with alumni mentors.

Through the ASMP, alumni are able to impart advice and information on career options and professional etiquette that students do not normally get in the classroom.

"The program has allowed me to gain valuable insight into starting an international engineering career from an experienced professional," says senior Brita Salzmann.

>> Who won the first annual ChBE Distinguished Mentor Award and how can you become a mentor?

 Dan Schwartz and Blake Langdon in labWatching Molecules Hop

Surfaces and interfaces influence molecular and macroscopic phenomena in fields ranging from pharmaceuticals to biofuel catalysis to biomedical devices. A powerful way to understand these effects is to literally watch individual molecules move around on surfaces, something that has not been possible until now.

Department Chair and Alfred T. and Betty E. Look Professor Dan Schwartz and his research group have developed a method to dynamically track single molecules using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM), and their results are surprising.

“Traditionally, molecules were thought to move on surfaces via a continuous two-dimensional random walk, analogous to the Brownian motion of dust particles one sees in a beam of sunlight,” explains Schwartz. “Instead, we have found that molecules actually engage in intermittent hopping from location to location on the surface.

“This means that molecules can explore a surface much more efficiently than previously thought, which has important implications for catalysis and bio-sensing in particular. Interestingly, a very similar type of motion has evolved in seabirds and other foraging animals that search for sparsely-distributed resources.”

The applications of single-molecule TIRFM for the better design of non-fouling materials and coatings for filters, packaging, drugs, foods and medical devices earned Schwartz recognition in the National Science Foundation’s 2014 Compendium of Technological Breakthroughs. Recent publications by Schwartz’s group have led to important advances in DNA-based biotechnology, biomaterials and polymer coating/lubrication, further illustrating the widespread relevance of this research.

>> Read why Schwartz believes switching from fundamental science to engineering has increased the impact of his research.

Bob Sani in South AfricaFormer Faculty and Staff Now

We in the department are often asked about former ChBE faculty and staff: where they are and what they are doing. Below are updates on some of the wonderful folks who have previously worked in our department.

Professor Paul Barrick passed away a few years ago. He was in his early 90s.

Professor Lee Brown and his wife reside in Albuquerque, within walking distance of the University of New Mexico where Brown has an appointment as a research professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. He confers with the department’s kinetics group as often as time and health permit.

Professor Jim Carley is living in Tucson, Ariz., at the distinguished age of 91.

Instrument Maker Willy Grothe is still machining from the comfort of home. He is listed on a 2014 patent for a process led by the Weimer group that uses concentrated sunlight to form syngas or hydrogen.

Professor R. Curt Johnson (retired 1986) died in 2003 at the age of 81.

Professor Bill Krantz (retired 1999) spent 32 years in ChBE. Since 2009, he has been a visiting professor at the Singapore Membrane Technology Center at Nanyang Technological University, where he is involved in research on water treatment and desalination. His idea for cryogels led to an Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) paper voted as the publication’s 2013 Best Paper on Environmental Technology and highlighted by Nature.

>> Read about Frank Kreith, Elmer Lauer, Max Peters, Fred Ramirez, Bob Sani, Klaus Timmerhaus, Norm Taylor and Ron West.

Graduate Student Award WinnersFocus on Award-Winning Graduate Students

Each April, graduate student awards are given by the department for outstanding research, leadership and service. This year’s winners, above, shown left to right, are:

Caroline Szczepanski - Departmental Service Award
Chris Muhich - American Institute of Chemists Graduate Student Faculty Leadership Award

Stacey Skaalure - American Institute of Chemists Graduate Student Award Peter Mitrano - Max S. Peters Outstanding Graduate Award
Carolyn Schoenbaum - Departmental Service Awards

>>Read about these award winners, their research, and where they are headed post-CU

Class Notes

Let us know what you've been up to! Send us a class note or update your contact information using our easy online form.

Rob Davis and Scott MartinT. Scott Martin (ChemEngr ’80) received a Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award from the College of Engineering and Applied Science for his work in Industry & Commerce. Four such awards are given annually to alumni across the college. Martin (left) is pictured with Dean Robert H. Davis in a photograph taken at the Engineering Awards Banquet in April.

Mike WirthFor his influential support of CU, Mike Wirth (ChemEngr ’82) received the University Medal at CU-Boulder’s Spring Commencement Ceremony May 9 at Folsom Field. (left)

Erlinda Stafford (BS ChemEngr’84) has worked at Lockheed Martin for the last 28 years in Propulsion Engineering. She helped build the Cassini spacecraft propulsion system, worked the Athena launch vehicle, and now supports the Project Orion crew module propulsion system. She has two children (17 and 15 years old), likes to ride and sometime race her road and mountain bikes, and likes to garden.

Brian KihnBrian Kihn (ChemEngr’92), currently a senior project manager at Amgen, was honored with the first annual ChBE Distinguished Mentor Award. (left)

Kevin Green (ChemEngr’96) is currently an assistant winemaker at Apolloni Vineyards. Green contributes to all aspects of winemaking, including the estate and leased vineyards, grape analysis, laboratory, wine fermenting, blending, bottling, and finishing. Green received a degree in winemaking and viticulture from Chemeketa Community College in Salem in 2007.

Jonathan Scheffe (PhD ChemEngr’10) has accepted an assistant professor position in mechanical engineering at the University of Florida. After leaving CU, Scheffe completed postdoctoral work at ETH Zürich in Switzerland under the direction of Professor Aldo Steinfeld.

Faculty, Staff & Student Awards

>> Click here for a full list of faculty, staff, and students who were honored at the 2014 ChBE Awards Ceremony.

Assistant Professors Anushreee Chatterjee and Prashant Nagpal were named New Inventors of the Year by CU-Boulder’s Tech Transfer Office.

A patent for improving drug formulations was awarded to Professor Ted Randolph and the CU-based company BaroFold, Inc.

Professor Kristi Anseth, along with former graduate students Cole DeForest and Benjamin Fairbanks and former research associate Brian Polizzotti, received a patent for a technique to create highly customizable hydrogel materials, which can be used in many biomedical applications like drug delivery, tissue and biosensors.

Professor Chris Bowman was awarded a patent for an advanced photolithography technique that allows for more precise fabrication of microdevices such as microchips, microfluidics and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

Professors John Falconer and Richard Noble were awarded patents for methods to make improved gas separation membranes.

Professor Al Weimer was awarded a patent for a process that uses concentrated sunlight to form syngas or hydrogen.

Maria Toscano-Leary received the 2014 ChBE Employee Recognition Award and the college’s April 2014 Employee Recognition Award.

Recent PhD graduate and Bryant group member Stacey Skaalure received a prestigious Whitaker Scholarship; she will begin a two-year post-doctoral position working in Professor Molly Stevens' lab at Imperial College in London this fall.

ChBE graduate students Ian Marozas and Colleen Courtney both received NSF Fellowship Awards, while Keesha Erickson received an NSF Honorable Mention. Marozas was also awarded a Ford Fellowship.

Kayla Weston was awarded the Colorado Engineering Council’s 2014 Silver Medal, the top honor given annually to a graduating senior. This marks the sixth time the medal has gone to a ChBE student in the last 10 years. Weston also received the ChBE Outstanding Senior Award.

Varsity Cross Country Team member Rachel Viger received the American Institute of Chemists Undergraduate Award and a University of Colorado 2014 Scholar-Athlete Award. Rachel was a 2014 distinguished Senior in Chemical Engineering and was named First Team All-Academic in the NCAA PAC-12 Conference.

Undergraduate Brennan Coffey was one of only three CU students to be named a 2014 Goldwater Scholar.

May 2014 graduate Elizabeth Horneber received the Outstanding Graduate for Service Award from the College.

May 2014 graduate Brandon Lin was honored as the college’s Outstanding Graduate for Academic Achievement, an award which goes to the undergraduate student with the highest GPA.

Undergraduate Duncan Chadly received the 2014 Genentech Outstanding Student Award.