Dr. Christine Grant is a Fellow, Life Member, and the 2022 President of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE); a global organization of 60,000+ members in 110 countries. A Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University for over 32 years, she’s conducted research in surface and interfacial science; advising postdocs and students ranging from the high school to the graduate student level. She served as the inaugural Associate Dean of Faculty Advancement for 12 years. In this role, Grant was responsible for faculty development, promotion, and tenure processes in the College of Engineering at NC State. She received an Sc.B. in Chemical Engineering from Brown University. She also has M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, both in Chemical Engineering, from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She’s also been a Visiting Professor at Duke, Caltech and the University of Minnesota. Grant previously served AIChE as a member of the following: Board of Directors, Chemical Technology Operating Council (CTOC), Environmental Division, National Awards and Nominating Committees, and the Henry & Melinda Brown Endowment Steering Committee. She has also been Chair of the Minority Affairs Committee.
For decades, Grant has been recognized for broadening the participation, promotion, and retention of underrepresented minorities and women in STEM. Her recognition includes the following: AAAS Mentor Award (2015); NSF Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) (2003); William W. Grimes Award for Excellence in Chemical Engineering (AIChE Minority Affairs Committee) (2019); Dr. Joseph N. Cannon Award for Excellence in Chemical Engineering from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) (2019); Women in Engineering Pro-Active Network (WEPAN) Bevlee A. Watford Inclusive Excellence Award (2017); American Chemical Society (ACS) Stan Israel Award for Diversity: SERMACS (2012); Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society (2010); and the Council for Chemical Research (CCR) National Diversity Award (2009). She is also a Life Member of AAUW, SWE, NSBE, NCNW and AISES.
In the realm of STEM education and policy, Grant was a Boeing Senior Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering’s Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE). She’s also been a Visiting Senior Scholar at AAAS and a Grant Expert and Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF). She has also been active as a PI on multiple NSF ADVANCE grants and served on the advisory board (or consulted with) several ADVANCE schools, including Texas A&M University, Cornell University, Lehigh University, University of New Hampshire, and the University of Cincinnati. In this role, she promoted institutional transformation in STEM fields. An international speaker, Grant conducts career coaching and professional development workshops across the U.S., in Ghana and Australia. Her consulting company (stemresilience.com) designs custom, targeted STEM programming for groups and individuals in corporate and academic environments. She is also co-editor of the book, “Success Strategies from Women in STEM: A Portable Mentor” by Elsevier/Academic Press. She has contributed chapters to “Growing Diverse STEM Communities: Methodologies, Impact and Evidence” (2019) and the ACS Book “Overcoming Barriers for Women of Color in STEM Fields” (2020).
Recent invited lectures include:
- 2019 National Institutes of Health (NIH): Cement Extramural Leadership Institute (CELI) speaker: ”Evaluative Leadership: The Role and the Toll…”
- 2020 National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) Conference: “Creating NNCI Inclusion – From Ideas to Action”
- 2021 NSF ADVANCE Latinas in STEM: “ Creating Cultures of Inclusion in STEM: From Ideas to Action”
- 2021 International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists (ICWES18): “Strategic Development of Women: Design Your Decision and Determine Your Destiny!”
- 2021 AIChE Future of STEM Scholars Initiative (FOSSI): “Navigating My Journey on the Academic Sea!”
- 2021 National Academies Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering: “Creating Cultures of Inclusion in Chemical Engineering”
- 2021 Merck Chemistry Summit Keynote: “ Mentors, Mentors, Everywhere: Weaving Informal and Formal Mentoring into a Robust Chemical Sciences Mentoring Quilt”
- 2022 National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) Keynote: “Mentors, Mentors, Everywhere: Weaving Informal and Formal Mentoring into Inclusive, Lifelong, Mentoring Quilts”
- 2022 West Virginia University Leadership Conversation Series: “Broadening Participation and Success for Women Throughout the Engineering Enterprise”
- 2022 Pfizer: “ The Impact of Black Women in STEM: A Panel Discussion of Hidden Figures”
Our research focuses on an evaluation of the mechanisms that control fouling and decontamination processes. The formation and removal of deposits is governed by a combination of chemical and transport processes at the solid-liquid interface, in the bulk liquid and in the film itself. Although general models have been used to describe cleaning and fouling, there is still a lack of understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying both the physical and chemical aspects of these processes. Insight into both the initial stages of fouling and the removal of trace residues is necessary to develop environmentally benign cleaning technologies in the chemical, food, and electronics industries.
While the study of highly ordered films (e.g., Langmuir-Blodgett films) provides information on film behavior at the molecular level, most contaminant films are heterogeneous in nature, containing polar and non-polar species, with a wide range of surface thicknesses and morphologies. The challenge is to utilize specialized analytical techniques to assess the deposition and removal of these complex films. In contrast to discontinuous studies, our research utilizes several techniques (e.g., total internal reflection fluorescence, solid scintillation and a quartz crystal microbalance) to non-invasively probe the interactive effects of hydrodynamics, temperature and film structure on deposition and removal of organic and inorganic films from glass and stainless steel surfaces.
Examples of our work in three industrial areas where fouling and cleaning are major problems include: (1) the hydration and removal of organics from glass; (2) the removal of calcium compounds (e.g., CaCO3,CaPO4) and fouling residues from stainless steel; and (3) the deposition of lubricants in turbines and disk drive assemblies. For example, in aviation turbines, synthetic ester-based lubricants interact with oxygen and metal to form high molecular weight products which deposit on metal surfaces. These films interfere with the efficient circulation of the liquid lubricant and reduce heat transfer. Our group is also investigating the use of additives to reduce lubricant degradation, and deposit-forming tendencies at high temperatures. We have developed experimental systems that have been instrumental in screening potential new solvent-surfactant systems for cleaning applications. In these systems, the removal of the residues is monitored continuously under controlled external mass-transfer conditions using a rotating disk apparatus. Initial research has demonstrated the effectiveness of non-ionic surfactants in the removal of mixed organic films from solid surfaces. The rate-controlling steps in the cleaning process have been identified as a function of the solution hydrodynamics, the external mass transfer rate, and the surfactant phase present. It is possible that the surfactant solutions used in the cleaning of contaminants may be recycled, minimizing the amount of surfactant required to operate the cleaning system. In a related application, we are investigating the use of CO2 -soluble surfactants in liquid and supercritical CO2 to clean metal surfaces.
Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (1989)
M.S., Chemical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (1986)
B.S., Chemical Engineering, Brown University (1984)
Honors and Awards
- AAAS Mentor Award
- Inaugural Pioneers of Diversity Award - AIChE Minority Affairs Committee
- Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)
- American Chemical Society Stanley C. Israel Regional Award
- Winifred Burks-Houck Women's Professional Leadership Award from the National Organization of Black Chemists & Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE)
- Inducted into Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society
- Minority Affairs Committee Eminent Chemical Engineers Award from AIChE
- Council for Chemical Research (CCR) Diversity Award
- National Organization of Black Chemists & Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) Professional Award in Chemical Engineering
- Selected to participate in 12th Annual US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE)
- National Academy of Engineering - CASEE Boeing Senior Fellowship
- National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering (GEM) Distinguished Alumni Academic Award