University of Colorado
College of Engineering & Applied Science
Aerospace Engineering Sciences
Support the Department Department Update | Fall 2012
IN THIS ISSUE:   Letter from the Chair  •   New Biotech Building  •   ChBE Startups
Upcoming Events   •   Faculty News  •   AIChE Student Chapter  
ChBE in the News   •  Awards and Updates  •   Screencasts Thriving  •   New Undergrad Advisor

Students in the Gill Lab work to create novel genome-engineering tools in their new fully-customized lab space. They and other ChBE researchers also take advantage of the many core facilities in the new building, including Next-Gen Sequencing, microscopy, MALDI, and NMR, which used to be a 15-minute trek across campus.
Pushing Boundaries in the New Biotechnology Building
After much anticipation we are delighted to announce that we have now taken up residence in our new building. The Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building (JSCBB) was completed in February and ChBE faculty, staff, and students have successfully moved into our new labs, offices, and classrooms.

Chemical and Biological Engineering shares the building with the Division of Biochemistry and the new BioFrontiers Institute (formerly the Colorado Initiative for Molecular Biotechnology) where researchers explore health issues such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, inherited diseases, vaccine development, and tissue engineering. They also are investigating pressing energy issues ranging from the development of new biofuels to the development of novel advanced materials to capture carbon dioxide for various uses. The contiguity of researchers in these areas has made collaborations much easier for many of our faculty. Close individual lab proximity is leading to greater communications between CU's premier researchers and ultimately to new collaborations that increase knowledge of and applications for human well-being.

To further enhance research efforts, the building contains common "core" facilities like the Next Generation Sequencing Core, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Core, and Microscopy Core, among others. These facilities are open to industry at competitive rates, extending the collaborative impact of this facility throughout the state of Colorado and beyond.

One example of interdisciplinary research that has taken place here is led by Professor Kristi Anseth. Professor Anseth focuses on the development of injectable, biodegradable "scaffolds" to regenerate cartilage for human joints and also the regeneration of skin, blood vessels, and bone. Her research group is collaborating with Professor Leslie Leinwand of the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) Department on a tissue engineering effort to develop replacement heart valves through tissue engineering. You can hear Kristi and Leslie talk about the impact of the move in a video on YouTube.

Professor Al Weimer, who directs the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels (C2B2), has high hopes that activities in the new facility will lead to discoveries and partnerships. "With the state-of-the-art equipment and scientists and students from a number of different areas engaged in collaboration, I see this as a fantastic opportunity," says Weimer.

Although most of our department has moved in, some faculty remain in the Engineering Center on the main campus while we wait for shelled and proposed spaces in the JSCBB, such as the Chevron Undergraduate Teaching Lab and the entire fifth wing, to be completed. You can still join us in advancing alternative energy and human health. Visit our giving page to see how you can contribute to the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building and see a complete list of the individuals and companies that are making it possible for our department to be a part of this pioneering, multidisciplinary community.

Students in the Caruthers Biotechnology Building use the collaboration spaces next to each research neighborhood for group work and to explore new ideas.

The department would like to extend a heartfelt "thank you" to all the generous private and corporate donors whose financial backing has been essential for our move, continued department growth, and recruitment of the best students and faculty. Our continued success would not be possible without you!

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Tech Transfer: ChBE Fuels Economy with 10 Startups
Ten active companies have been created since 1997 based on technologies invented wholly or in part by CU chemical and biological engineering students and their faculty supervisors. Chemical and biological engineering spinoff companies from CU-Boulder have raised nearly $410 million in follow-on funding, including grants, venture capital financing, U.S. Small Business Administration funding, and acquisitions, according to CU's Technology Transfer Office.

One of the greatest success stories has been Copernican Energy, an ultra-clean, bio-based fuels company using a high-temperature radiant particle reactor to turn cellulosic material into green gasoline, which was purchased by Sundrop Fuels in 2008. The company was co-founded in 2006 by Professor Al Weimer, CU student Chris Perkins who earned his doctorate the same year, and distinguished engineering alumnus Mike Masterson (MS ChemEngr '77). Sundrop Fuels plans to break ground on a $450 million plant near Alexandria, Louisiana, in December of this year. This facility is expected to produce about 3,500 barrels of renewable gasoline per day. The plant will convert sustainable forest residues and thinnings with natural gas into bio-based "green gasoline" using a production path that integrates gasification, gas purification, methanol synthesis, and a methanol-to-gasoline process. The planned result will be ready-to-use, inexpensive car fuel. The company plans to follow up the facility with larger scale plants to produce a combined production capacity of more than one billion gallons by 2020.

Based on technology transfer from the ChBE research labs of Professor Ryan Gill, OPX Biotechnologies was recognized as Bioscience Company of the Year by CU's Technology Transfer Office. Based in Boulder, OPX is a venture-backed company making renewable bio-based chemicals and fuels that are lower cost, higher return and more sustainable than existing petroleum-based products.

Lastly, Christopher Bowman was one of ten to receive a Tech Commercialization Grant from the state of Colorado for developing inexpensive, highly-efficient synthetic nucleic acids for use in nano-assembly, bio-detection and other bio-functional applications.

Recognizing the revenue potential of CU-licensed science moving to the commercial market, CU is looking at how to best maximize proceeds from technology transfer. The university plans to soon seek bids from consultants to help with this process. A recent article in the Boulder Daily Camera discussed the potential of the JSCBB to result in new commercial companies and also highlighted Professor Al Weimer's company ALD NanoSolutions as a company based on technology developed at CU.

> Learn more about tech transfer

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Faculty News
Meet our Newest Faculty

The department was thrilled to welcome three new faculty members in August. Read more about the interests and achievements of these distinguished researchers by clicking through to their biographies on our website.

Jennifer Cha, Norviel Associate Professor. Previously
an Assistant Professor of Nanoengineering at the
University of California San Diego, Jennifer researches
the design, synthesis, and integration of biomolecular materials for nanoscience. She holds a BS in cell
biology from UC Berkeley and a PhD in Materials
Chemistry from UC Santa Barbara.

Andrew Goodwin, Assistant Professor. Previously an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Nanoengineering at UC San Diego, Andrew's research focuses on designing "smart" colloids and materials that can sense their surroundings and change their physical properties accordingly. Andrew holds a BA in Chemistry from Columbia University in New York and a PhD in chemistry from UC Berkeley.

Prashant Nagpal, Assistant Professor. He completed his PhD in Chemical Engineering in 2009 at the University of Minnesota and did postdoctoral research at the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Prashant's research focuses on development of novel nanostructured building blocks for nano-optics and electronics, self-assembled nanoparticle assemblies, and nanoparticle inks for understanding fundamental interactions between electromagnetic waves, and for applications in renewable energy and biological sensing.

Saying Goodbye to a Department Mainstay

While the arrival of new faculty has been cause for great excitement, it is with sorrow that we announce the retirement of Professor Robert (Bob) Sani. Professor Sani started with the department in 1976, and in his 36 years here he has become a mainstay that will be sorely missed. During his tenure at CU, Sani has investigated both experimentally and through computer simulations the fields of fluid dynamics and electrochemical engineering, among others. One specific focus has been on systems in which fluid/solid interfaces play a dominant role, with a goal of better understanding electrochemical deposition and etching as well as corrosion; another focus has been on microgravity processing and its possibilities for container-less manufacturing of ultrapure materials. Sani's efforts have given shape to three books and more than 100 publications.

While Professor Sani has taught many courses at CU, in recent years he has become integral to the junior and senior labs. In one junior lab experiment, students investigate heat and mass transfer from a hot cup of coffee to the atmosphere. Several students fondly recall one instance in which the lab coordinator walked up to Sani to tell him that the coffee cup lab group was not conducting the experiment correctly. Professor Sani's response? "What did they do? Drink it?" Later, in the same lab, Sani asked, "What's a koozie? I just call it an insulating sleeve."

Senior Jhenya Nahreini had more serious thoughts to share concerning her former professor. "Even though junior lab could be stressful at times, I always enjoyed talking with Professor Sani because he was so approachable. He really challenged me to consider alternative explanations to what I observed in the experiments, beyond the most obvious. It was such a fortune to have Bob Sani as part of the Chemical Engineering Department and although his retirement is a cause for celebration, I will be sad to see him leave."

Bob, we all wish you the best!

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AIChE Student Chapter Update

CU AIChE student chapter members touring Rentech, Inc. in Denver include (from top left) Ray Hatrick, Oliver Chou, Brian Welch, Brandon Lin, Logan Cerkovnik (front center), Luke Arlow, Erik Wislinski, Alexandra Chakeres, Dillon Rodenbaugh, and Jeremy Halperin. The chapter also toured Avery Brewing this fall and has plans to tour additional companies in the spring.
Between its plant tours, speaker luncheons, brewing group, Chem-E-Car and other activities, our AIChE student chapter has been busy. Ten student members were planning to attend the national conference in Pittsburgh, and work has begun on improving on last year's Chem-E-Car design, which won the award for Most Creative Design in the spring 2012 AIChE Regional Conference in South Dakota. This active group has successfully organized tours and brought in lunchtime speakers from Nestle, Chevron, Susquehanna Brewing Company, Shell, the University of Michigan, and our own ChBE faculty to present on various industry issues and academic/professional opportunities. The Brew Team has already brewed and bottled its first batches of beer - a pale ale and a stout - and the group is encouraging sponsored naming of batches! Finally, CU AIChE's Team Fugacity has been doing quite well on the ultimate Frisbee circuit; whether or not its success is due in any way to the team's heightened awareness of thermodynamics is unknown. New members and industry speakers and sponsors are always welcome. Visit the chapter Facebook page for more information.

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Letter from the Chair, Dan Schwartz
Dan SchwartzIn this newsletter, you will read about the biggest story to hit the department in a generation - our relocation into the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building. The move occurred over the course of a few weeks in March and April of this year and fortunately caused minimal disruption for such a major event. Six months later, the students, staff, and faculty are settled in and loving our new environment. The change is so dramatic that it's difficult to express all the ways in which the department has been enhanced ... but we'll try, so read on.

The department continues to grow. In fact, we are now the second largest department in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (after only Mechanical Engineering), with well over 500 undergraduate majors. On the faculty side, we are excited to welcome new arrivals Jennifer Cha, Andrew Goodwin, and Prashant Nagpal. Notably, it is with great regret that we announce the imminent retirement of Professor Bob Sani, who leaves us after 36 years of devoted service to the department, college, and university.

Despite shrinking contributions from the state of Colorado, the department continues to successfully innovate in education, research, and entrepreneurial technology transfer. In fact, our research productivity has grown significantly, with more than $13 million in research grant expenditures last year. Some highlights are described here, and we are enormously grateful to all of the partners who continue to make this possible.

If you haven't kept track of the CU Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering lately, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by our growth and accomplishments. We hope this newsletter will help you catch up with the department, and as always, we extend an open invitation to our alumni and friends; we hope you will stay connected.

Best wishes,
Dan Schwartz
Upcoming Events
Friday, Nov. 2
Back to Boulder Weekend

Tour JSSC Biotechnology Building with Dean and ChBE Professor Robert H. Davis as your guide and other homecoming weekend events

Wednesday, Nov. 7
Alumni Breakfast Series

featuring ChBE Professor Al Weimer in JSCBB

ChBE James and Catherine Patten Seminar Series

Email us to get involved in the Spring 2013 Capstone Design Project
ChBE in the News
Chris Bowman named
Distinguished Professor

Arthi Jayaraman's simulations open window on microscopic world

ChBE's Prof. David Clough designs engineering curriculum for the American University of Iraq in Kurdistan

Bryant, Anseth develop prototype bioreactor to create, stimulate, and evaluate engineered tissue as it grows
Awards and Updates

Faculty, Students, and Staff
Screencasts Thriving
With more than 690 screencasts covering topics in 10 CU engineering courses, interest in CU's new instructor-narrated tablet PC video captures on YouTube and ITunesU has seen dramatic growth. An initiative led by ChBE faculty and sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Shell, and the University of Colorado Engineering Excellence Fund, CU screencasts have been downloaded/watched online over 140,000 times in the last 30 days, and will be watched more than one million times in 2012. Check out this exciting new learning tool at or via the links above.
Meet Dr. Deb Renshaw, Undergraduate Academic Advisor
The department has been fortunate to find a new undergraduate advisor with not only years of experience, but unbridled enthusiasm for helping students. Since Dr. Deb Renshaw started with the department in April of this year she has greatly alleviated the burden on faculty by taking over student advising and helping facilitate student events. Please join us in welcoming Deb as our department's new "Engineering Advising Buff" and read more about her fascinating career as a teacher, counselor, and firefighter.
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Chemical & Biological Engineering
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