Honoring the 2021 CBE Distinguished Alumni

Left to right: Greg P. Hatem, Elizabeth A. Nance, William B. Thompson, Jr., Stephenie L. Robertson, Michael W. Lowder

On December 3, 2021, the department hosted a luncheon to honor four of our graduates with CBE Distinguished Alumni Awards and one graduate with the CBE Distinguished Young Alumni Award.

Established in 2016, the awards are intended to celebrate and recognize the exemplary contributions recipients have made to their profession, their community, and our department, college or university. All graduates of the department, including deceased graduates, are eligible for consideration.

The 2021 Distinguished Alumni are Gregory P. Hatem, Michael  W. Lowder, Stephenie L. Robertson and William B. Thompson, Jr.

Each year, the department also recognizes a CBE graduate who received his or her degree within the previous 15 years. Elizabeth A. Nance was the recipient of the Distinguished Young Alumni Award.

Greg P. Hatem

A native of Roanoke Rapids, NC, Greg Hatem earned his B.S. in chemical engineering in 1985. He then gained finance experience as a Financial Advisor at American Express in Raleigh. Hatem traveled to China, where he founded Shenyang Hi-Technology Development Corp. JV in 1992. He earned a diploma in Chinese studies from Beijing Youth Politics College in 1996. Back in the States, he served as Senior Trade Specialist for Asia with the NC Department of Commerce in 1997. Hatem created Empire Properties in 1995 to preserve and enhance the character of downtown Raleigh.

Since forming Empire, Hatem has been a leader in the efforts to renew downtown through adaptive reuse of historic structures. Under his leadership, Empire Properties now owns more than 70 buildings with more than 1 million square feet of office and retail space in downtown Raleigh and Durham. Hatem and Empire Properties have won numerous awards for their revitalization efforts, including his being inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame in 2019.

Hatem also is the founder of Empire Eats, Empire’s restaurant division that has been credited with helping to revitalize downtown Raleigh by turning it into one of North Carolina’s culinary centers. This was the goal in 2002, when Hatem opened his first restaurant in downtown Raleigh as a tool for revitalization.  Hatem serves on the NC Public Health Commission and the NC Entrepreneurial Commission, and also serves on the boards of the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies and the NC Theatre. He is a past board member of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, WakeUP Wake County and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

Hatem and his wife, Samantha, live in downtown Raleigh, and they have a son and a daughter.

Michael  W. Lowder

Mike Lowder, a native of Albemarle, NC, graduated in 1978 with his B.S. in chemical engineering. He began his career as a process design engineer at Tennessee Eastman, a subsidiary of Kodak. In 1986, he earned an M.B.A. from East Tennessee State University. During his 44-year career with Eastman, he has held numerous assignments in engineering, operations, corporate strategy and mergers / acquisitions.

Much of his career has centered on either organization leadership or project management of capital projects and corporate transformation efforts. Lowder held leadership roles on major capital projects to commercialize a new coatings intermediate product, deliver Eastman’s first manufacturing plant in Mexico, and build a PET polymer intermediates plant. In 1997, he joined a new Corporate Strategy group and later assumed project management responsibilities for integrating a series of three large acquisitions. In 2002, he proposed, created and then led the Eastman Program Office that provides project management expertise to non-capital, multi-functional change events.

Lowder returned to the Process Engineering Department as director in 2007. Since then, he has held temporary assignments to help lead a proposed Saudi Arabia mega-project, integration of the Solutia acquisition and integration of the Taminco acquisition.

Lowder served four years on the Board of Directors of the Engineering and Construction Contracting Association (Chairman in 2011) and five years on its Executive Advisory Council. He was honored with induction into the National Academy of Construction in 2019.

Lowder and his wife, Brenda, live in Johnson City, Tenn. Their son Matthew is a mechanical engineer at Eastman.

Elizabeth A. Nance

Elizabeth Nance earned a B.S. in chemical engineering in 2006 and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 2012 in chemical and biomolecular engineering under the supervision of her thesis advisor, Dr. Justin Hanes. She then completed a postdoctoral assignment with Dr. Sujatha Kannan in anesthesiology and critical care medicine, with a research emphasis in neuroscience, at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Nance joined the University of Washington (UW) as the Clare Booth Luce assistant professor of chemical engineering in September 2015, where her research has focused on technology development for the treatment of pediatric and brain-related diseases. She received a Presidential Early Career Achievement in Science and Engineering (PECASE) award in 2019.

Nance is currently the Jagjeet and Janice Bindra career development endowed associate professor of chemical engineering, with adjunct appointments in radiology, bioengineering and the eScience Institute. She serves as the associate chair for undergraduate studies in chemical engineering at UW, and is the co-founder and current vice chair of the Controlled Release Society Nervous System Delivery focus group.

Nance takes an active role in mentoring young women, from middle-school age to post-graduate, to pursue engineering in scientific and health fields. In January 2016, she founded Women in Chemical Engineering (WChE), an organization for graduate and undergraduate student women chemical engineers, and their male allies, focused on empowering, strengthening and promoting the network of women chemical engineers across all levels.

Nance is married to Dr. Tommy  Wood and lives outside Seattle, Wash., with their two boxer dogs, Bowen and Parker.

Stephenie L. Robertson

Stephenie Robertson earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1995. After graduation, she received a commission in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. Robertson was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC, and deployed to Bosnia as part of Operation Joint Endeavor. While at Fort Bragg, Robertson was selected to be the first female officer to serve in a Combat Engineer organization and graduated from Fort Bragg’s Jumpmaster School.

After serving in the Army, Robertson attended the University of South Florida and earned a Master of Science in chemical engineering, where her graduate research involved mathematical modeling of human platelet aggregation.

Robertson began her civilian engineering career as a process engineer at Ajinomoto Amino Science in Raleigh, NC, where she held various positions before becoming the head of production, responsible for all manufacturing, utilities, wastewater treatment and safety. In 2007, Robertson joined Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics to build an influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in Holly Springs, NC, as part of a national effort to improve the United States’ pandemic response. She held various positions in the Cell Culture Manufacturing facility, including head of upstream operations (cell culture / virus production), before moving to quality assurance, where she held the position of director, quality assurance operations, under the site’s new owner, Seqirus.

In 2018, Robertson moved to Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in Research Triangle Park, NC, where she is currently the vice president of operations, responsible for engineering, supply chain and safety.

Robertson is married to Jeff Robertson, also an alumnus of NC State. They have a daughter and a son, and reside in Holly Springs, NC.

William B. Thompson, Jr.

Bill  Thompson, a native of Beaufort County, NC, earned his B.S. in chemical engineering in 1978. He started his career as a process engineer at the Burroughs Wellcome plant in Greenville, NC, working in the automation of pharmaceutical production facilities. Two years later, he enrolled at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, earning an M.B.A. in 1982.

Following business school, Thompson changed industries and joined Carolina Securities Corporation, a regional securities broker / dealer located in Raleigh. In 1987, Thompson co-founded Peacock-Thompson Investment Management, an SEC-registered investment adviser engaged in portfolio management services for individuals and institutions. Then in 1995, Peacock-Thompson merged with Franklin Street Partners in Chapel Hill, NC, where Bill has had progressive leadership roles leading to being named President of Franklin Street Partners in 2009.

Fifth Third Bank acquired Franklin Street Advisors in 2018, and Thompson was named managing director of asset allocation and investment strategies. He retired earlier this year but contributes as a consultant and chairman of Franklin Street’s Investment Policy Committee.

Thompson and his wife, Brigid, live in Willow Spring, NC, and have two sons. Thompson is one of a three-generation NC State engineering alumnus family with his father a 1949 mechanical engineering graduate, their son Kyle, an aerospace engineering graduate, and their son Connor, a chemical engineering graduate.

Click here to learn more about previous recipients of the CBE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Congratulations to this fine group of men and women!  You’re a true inspiration to the next generation of Wolfpack chemical engineers.