Published: April 1, 2019 By

Greg Rieker U.S. Early Career Investigator Award

Yiguang Ju, Chair of the U.S. Section of the Combustion Institute and Professor at Princeton University, awards Assistant Professor Greg Rieker the inaugural U.S. Early Career Investigator Award at the 2019 U.S. National Combustion Meeting.

Six faculty members, including five from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and six mechanical engineering students represented CU Boulder at the 11th U.S. National Combustion Meeting the Week of March 24 in Pasadena, California. Faculty members were honored with awards, gave two of the three flagship plenary lectures, took on new board memberships of the Western States Section of the Combustion Institute and led three critical combustion events.

The U.S. National Combustion Meeting is the premier combustion science meeting in the U.S. and has been organized by joint sections of the Combustion Institute since 1999. This year, the event was hosted by Caltech, University of Southern California and the Western States Section of the Combustion Institute. Roughly 600 students, scientists and engineers were in attendance. In addition to plenary talks and workshops, the event included oral presentations of more than 400 papers and posters. 

Assistant Professor Greg Rieker was awarded the first-ever U.S. Early Career Investigator Award. This award recognizes excellence in combustion research, the potential for future leadership in the field and service to the combustion research community. Rieker was also chosen to give one of the three plenary lectures. Rieker’s lecture, “Frequency Combs in Combustion,” told the story of how his lab group had translated frequency comb laser technology to combustion applications for the first time. This technology was originally developed at CU Boulder’s Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics.  

U.S. National Combustion Meeting Group

CU Boulder faculty and graduate students. Top row left to right: G. Barney Ellison, Cory Rogers, Jessica Porterfield, Nicole Labbe, Greg Rieker, John Daily, Hope Michelsen. Bottom row left to right: David Couch, Jatinder Sampathkumar, Katie Cummins, Amanda Makowiecki, Nate Malarich.

On March 26, Hope Michelsen, future Associate Professor for the Department of Mechanical Engineering and current researcher at Sandia National Laboratories, also delivered a plenary lecture. Her lecture, “Soot Formation, Growth, and Global Impact: The Life Story of a Mass Murderer,” highlighted the impact soot has on human health and the environment. It provided an overview of the unexplained mysteries of soot formation during combustion and the approaches the community is using to solve them.

Also at the meeting, Assistant Professor Peter Hamlington was elected to the Western States Section of the Combustion Institute Executive Board. Professor John Daily was celebrated as his service as Board Member came to a close after more than four consecutive terms. Assistant Professor Nicole Labbe transitioned from secretary to treasurer for the Western States Section.

Labbe also led several events and workshops which helped to make the 2019 U.S. National Combustion Meeting a success. She ran the 2019 Combustion Early Career Investigator Workshop, a one-and-a-half-day workshop bringing together junior faculty doing research in combustion, fire and related fields to discuss cultural issues facing the community along with the inaugural Mentoring Mixer sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Women in Combustion Luncheon.

Overall, the meeting highlighted the recent path to prominence that CU Boulder is experiencing in the area of combustion and thermofluid sciences.

“Everywhere you went at this meeting, University of Colorado was there,” Rieker said. “It is an exciting time for us on the national and international stage.”