Fall 2021

Departmental Seminars

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August 16, 2021
10:30 AM
EB1 1011
Dr. Aditya Bhan
University of Minnesota

Heterogeneous catalysts enable functionalization and derivatization of molecules for use as energy carriers, polymer precursors, and fine chemicals and mitigate the environmental consequences engendered in their production and consumption. With the underlying tenet that nothing is more fundamental to the understanding of catalysis than the accurate measurement and interpretation of rates of reaction, we illustrate the utility of chemical kinetics in providing insight into two catalytic systems of technological relevance.

The first part of this presentation will discuss our efforts on controlling the rate and reversibility of non-oxidative CH4 dehydroaromatization on Mo/ZSM-5. Well-dispersed carbidic Mo aggregates (MoCx) circumscribed in the pores of a medium-pore zeolite, ZSM-5, catalyze CH4 dehydroaromatization (DHA) with high benzene (>70%) and aromatic (>95%) selectivity at conversions near the ~10% equilibrium limit at ~950 K. Net benzene formation rates are limited by reaction endothermicity and approach zero as methane conversion nears the ~10% equilibrium limit. We (i) leverage the “non-selective” deactivation of MoCx/H-ZSM-5 catalysts to discern the connectivity of the methane to benzene reaction network, (ii) demonstrate Mo is the sole kinetically-relevant active site in MoCx/H-ZSM-5 catalysts, (iii) evoke and develop existing formalisms to extract intrinsic kinetic information in highly-reversible reaction systems, and (iv) circumvent thermodynamic barriers to methane DHA by in-situ H2 removal.

The second part of this presentation will describe the mechanistic origins of over-oxidation and C-C bond scission products in the partial oxidation of propylene to acrolein on mixed metal oxide catalysts. We combine transient kinetic studies, co-feed experiments of aldehydes and carboxylic acids formed as byproducts in propylene oxidation, and isotopic-labeling studies to elucidate the reaction mechanisms, identify the existence and the involvement of relevant surface intermediates, and develop an extensive reaction kinetic model describing the formation of all C2 – C6 products (> 20 C2-C6 products are formed in this chemistry at carbon selectivity as low as 0.001%), to evince the underlying mechanisms for C-C bond cleavage and formation reactions and the rates of these chemical pathways.


Aditya Bhan received his Bachelor of Technology (B. Tech.) in Chemical Engineering from IIT Kanpur in 2000 and his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University in 2005. From January 2005 to August 2007, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California at Berkeley and since then he has been on the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science faculty at the University of Minnesota where he currently serves as the Shell Chair Professor in Chemical Engineering. He leads a research group that focuses on mechanistic characterization of catalysts useful in energy conversion and petrochemical synthesis. In the recent past, his group at the University of Minnesota has been recognized with the Young Researcher Award from the Acid-Base Catalysis Society and the Ipatieff Prize from the American Chemical Society. He serves as Editor for Journal of Catalysis and as Chair of the ACS Catalysis Science & Technology Division.

August 23, 2021
10:30 AM
EB1 1011
Dr. Priya Shah
University of Califorina, Davis

The Shah Lab develops and applies quantitative systems biology tools to study biological processes at the network and pathway level. In this choose-your-own-adventure seminar, you will be able to choose from two stories: one that applies global proteomics approaches to unravel mechanisms of viral microcephaly or another that develops a theoretical framework and live-cell microscopy workflow to reveal how a disease-associated pathway can be pharmacologically fine-tuned.

August 30, 2021
10:30 AM
EB1 1011
Dr. Michael Filler
Georgia Tech

This talk will overview our recent efforts to bring about the ‘chemical engineering-ification’ of electronics. While chemical engineering has played a major role in the development and success of integrated circuitry, the process by which we manufacture integrated circuits – planar processing – is strikingly antithetical to the foundational tenets of chemical engineering. In planar processing, electronic devices are monolithically constructed and interconnected on semiconductor wafers using atomic/molecular building blocks. There are no intermediate products and, relatedly, no intermediate separations. The extreme integration of the planar process can generate remarkably complex circuitry; however, it also places significant restrictions on cost, throughput, and functional diversity.

To overcome these limitations, we are developing a suite of new processes to modularize nanoelectronic devices and hyper-scale their manufacturing. Modularization at the device level promises an unprecedented combination of performance, cost, and function and, as a result, new electronic capabilities such as on-demand or reconfigurable integrated circuits. ‘Nano-modular’ device fabrication leverages three bottom-up processes: (i) vapor-liquid-solid semiconductor nanowire growth, (ii) a new nanoscale polymer masking process, and (iii) area-selective atomic layer deposition. Our approach yields single-crystalline, high mobility nanowires with nanoscale coaxial dielectric and metal thin films self-aligned to the internal dopant profile. In parallel, we are developing the Geode process to increase manufacturing throughput by several orders-of-magnitude. This scale-up is made possible by an unconventional substrate – the interior surface of hollow silica microcapsule powders – on which nanowire growth and subsequent processing occurs. Collaborative efforts are also enabling nanowire property characterization in a high-throughput, non-contact fashion and high resolution interconnection of nano-modular devices to form functional circuitry.


Dr. Filler is an Associate Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and, by courtesy, in the School Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research program lies at the intersection of chemical engineering and materials science, focusing on the synthesis, understanding, and deployment of nanoscale materials for applications in electronics, photonics, and energy conversion. He is also the host of Nanovation, a monthly podcast about the intersection of nanoscience, technology, manufacturing, and society. Dr. Filler has been recognized for his research and teaching with the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Georgia Tech Sigma Xi Young Faculty Award, and as a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Environmental Chemistry Mentor.

September 13, 2021
10:30 AM
Via Zoom
Dr. Nianqiang Wu
University of Massachusetts Amherst

This presentation will present our effort to develop plasmonic nanostructures for amplifying surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and fluorescence signals. It will also show how to incorporate SERS and fluorescence sensors into paper-based lateral flow strips (PLFS) as point-of-care tools for testing at home, clinics, emergency departments and bed sides. This talk will discuss how to engineer on-chip sample pretreatment, flow control and detection. Moreover, this talk will show how paper test strips detect protein biomarkers of cancers, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and COVID-19.


Dr. Nianqiang (Nick) Wu is currently Armstrong-Siadat Endowed Professor in Materials Science at University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA. He received his Ph.D. degree in Materials Science & Engineering from Zhejiang University, China in 1997. He was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University of Pittsburgh from 1999 to 2001. Afterwards he directed Keck Surface Science Center at Northwestern University in USA in 2001-2005. He then joined West Virginia University (WVU) as Assistant Professor in 2005, promoted to Associate Professor in 2010 and Full Professor in 2014. He moved to UMass Amherst in 2020.

Dr. Wu is Fellow of the Electrochemical Society (FECS) and Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC). He is named Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate Analytics (Web of ScienceTM). He has received the Electrochemical Society (ECS) Sensor Division Outstanding Achievement Award, the Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award, the Alice Hamilton Award for Excellence in Occupational Safety & Health, and WVU Statler College Outstanding Researcher Award. He served as Board of Directors in the Electrochemical Society (ECS) and Chair of ECS Sensor Division in the past. He also served on editorial advisory boards for international.

Dr. Wu’s research interests lie at the interface of materials science, photonics and electrochemistry, and his research have three thrusts: (i) photocatalysts and photoelectrochemical cells, (ii) electrochemical energy storage, (iii) biosensors, microfluidics, lab-on-chips and point-of-care testing and photodynamic therapy. He has authored or co-authored 195 journal articles, 3 book chapters and 1 book entitled “Biosensors Based on Nanomaterials and Nanodevices”. His papers were cited about 3,000 times in a single year in 2020, achieving a total citation of about 25,000 throughout his career with an H-index of 72.

September 20, 2021
10:30 AM
EB1 1011
Dr. Joel Voldman
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Microsystems have the potential to impact biology & medicine by providing new ways to manipulate, separate, and otherwise interrogate cells and the molecules they secrete. The immune system is of particular interest because of its central role in the pathophysiology of many common disorders. As a consequence, many microfluidic devices have been developed to study both the basic biology of immune cells as well as to assay them for clinical use. Our lab has developed technologies on both ends of the spectrum, from cell pairing devices able to study information flow and decision-making in immune cells, to electrical sorting devices for assaying immune cell function in response to disease, to electrochemical microfluidic systems for assaying protein abundance in complex fluids. In this talk I will highlight some of our recent developments in this area to showcase the opportunities – and enduring challenges – of these microfluidic tools.


Joel Voldman is Clarence J. Lebel Professor and EE Faculty Head in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at MIT. He received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1995. He received the M.S and Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, in 1997 and 2001, developing bioMEMS for single-cell analysis. Following this, he was a postdoctoral associate at Harvard Medical School. In 2002 he returned to MIT as an Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at MIT. Prof. Voldman’s research focuses on developing microfluidic technology for biology and medicine, with an emphasis on cell sorting, manipulation, and culture. In 2006 he was promoted to Associate Professor, and in 2013 promoted to Professor in the department. In 2018 he became Associate Head of the Department and in 2020 became Faculty Head for Electrical Engineering and was named to the Clarence J. Lebel chair. Among several awards, he has received an NSF CAREER award, an ACS Young Innovator Award, a Bose Research award, Jamieson Teaching Award, Smullin Teaching Award, Quick Faculty Research Innovation Fellowship, AIMBE Fellow, IEEE Fellow, RSC Fellow, and awards for posters and presentations at international conferences.

October 11, 2021
10:30 AM
EB1 1011
Dr. Jean Tom
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

The pharmaceutical industry evolves to enable development of new therapies for patients as business priorities, healthcare policies and government regulations impact the industry. Innovations in biology, chemistry, and medicine are constantly leading to the discovery of new targets and compounds. Chemical engineering contributes to the innovations to develop enabling processes early in the development cycle and then robust manufacturing processes to make these new compounds. In developing these processes, the understanding of key unit operations in the chemical synthesis: reaction, separation, crystallization, and drying drives the relationship between the process design space and critical quality attributes of the desired molecule. This talk will describe the work behind developing the commercial process to make new small molecule drug substance, examine innovations to enable future chemical processes, and present some examples of these approaches and innovations.

October 18, 2021
10:30 AM
Via Zoom
Dr. Andrew Woolley
University of Toronto

The design of proteins whose structure and activity can be manipulated using light has a can lead to a better understanding of how natural protein switches function and can also lead to the creation of powerful tools for manipulating complex biological systems in vivo. We have both structure-based and library-based approaches to designing photo-controlled proteins. I will present recent results and describe pros and cons of each approach.

November 1, 2021
10:30 AM
EB1 1011
Dr. Jodie Lutkenhaus
Texas A&M University

Because of the projected shortages of elements used in Li-ion batteries and limited battery recycling, alternative electrode chemistries are gaining interest. Ideally, this future battery would contain materials that are easily sourced with little environmental impact, would be degradable of recyclable, and would bear similar or better energy storage characteristics in comparison to Li-ion batteries. This talk will examine one such promising battery chemistry, that of macromolecular radicals. These polymers generally contain redox-active nitroxide radical groups that reversibly exchange electrons at rates much higher that of current metal oxide cathodes. This manifests as a higher power or a high charging rate. The current challenges for macromolecular radical batteries are to understand the redox mechanism, to increase the energy density in metal-free or aqueous conditions, and to consider a circular life cycle. Insight into the polymer’s redox mechanism is provided using electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring, in which mixed electron-ion-solvent transfer is quantified. This knowledge reveals why certain metal-free, aqueous electrolytes are well-suited to this polymer class. Last, an organic peptide battery that degrades on command into amino acids and byproducts provides a path forward toward recycling for a circular life cycle.


Jodie L. Lutkenhaus is holder of the Axalta Chair and Professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University. Lutkenhaus received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 2002 from The University of Texas at Austin and her Ph.D in Chemical Engineering in 2007 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Current research areas include polyelectrolytes, redox-active polymers, energy storage, and composites. She has received recognitions including World Economic Forum Young Scientist, Kavli Fellow, NSF CAREER, AFOSR Young Investigator, 3M Non-tenured Faculty Award. She is the past-Chair of the AICHE Materials Engineering & Sciences Division. Lutkenhaus is the Deputy Editor of ACS Applied Polymer Materials and a member of the U.S. National Academies Board of Chemical Sciences & Technology.

November 15, 2021
10:30 AM
EB1 1011
Dr. Eric Furst
University of Delaware

In colloidal gels, attractive interactions among suspended colloids drive a thermodynamic instability that promotes aggregation. Instead of phase separating, aggregates arrest in a space-spanning network. In many cases, aggregation is induced by the addition of non-adsorbing polymer to a suspension of repulsive colloids — the depletion attraction. In other instances, gels form when particles are destabilized by screened electrostatic interactions. As a result, colloidal gels are found in a wide number of industrial processes and products where fine solids form dispersions, including agrochemicals, consumer care products, cement suspensions, in mineral processing, and pharmaceuticals.

Gel rheology is a principal material property of interest, including elasticity and yielding. While studies have sought to understand the formation and properties of gels in a framework of arrested phase separation, their microstructure and rheology depend strongly on the nature of the particle interactions. At low volume fractions and strong interaction energies between particles, colloidal gels are effectively modeled as fractal flocs formed through diffusion-controlled kinetic processes. Flocs are the main load bearing units of the gel and theories connecting the floc architecture to the gel modulus remain a state-of-the-art description. Until recently, there was no definitive micro-structural theory for the elasticity of colloidal gels formed at higher volume fractions and lower strengths of interaction. What are the fundamental structural units imparting elasticity to the network, and what physical principles govern their formation?

In this talk, I will present experiments form weak and strong gels that illustrate the role particle interactions have on gel structure and rheology. The nature of particle contacts or “bonds” plays a critical part in the microstructure, elasticity, and aging of colloidal gels, and points to ways of tailoring the surface chemistry of particles to control gel rheology and stability.


Eric M. Furst serves as Professor and Department Chair of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. Furst received his BS with University Honors in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and his PhD from Stanford University. Prior to joining the faculty at Delaware, he studied biophysics at Institut Curie, Paris. His research interests span a range of topics in soft matter science and engineering, with a focus on colloid and interface science and rheology. He is co-author of the book Microrheology. Furst is the recipient of the Soft Matter Lectureship Award, the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, the University Excellence in Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring Award, and is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and the AAAS.

November 22, 2021
10:30 AM
EB1 1011
Dr. Maria Santore
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Like small molecules, colloidal particles experience interactions that can drive phase transitions of colloidal fluids and solids that may form the basis for novel materials. In classical work, control over electrostatic and van der Waals interactions has enabled colloidal stability or rapid aggregation. In model systems such as nearly perfect sphere, manipulation of these forces has produced of colloidal crystals having structures that resemble those of minerals. Polymers added to colloidal dispersions adsorb or are depleted from particle surfaces to produce long-range interactions that enable further control. Colloidal assembly and crystallization on 2D templates opens the door to the creation of new ultrathin materials. In addition to the forces acting in 3D colloidal suspensions, at interfaces, assembling colloids additionally interact through surface tension and elasticity. This talk explores the interactions and assembly of flat rigid colloids at fluid interfaces. We demonstrate how the elasticity of the interfacial fluid gives rise to pair potentials with distinct minima, enabling control of colloidal positioning from less than a micron to tens of microns, spanning the size of the colloids themselves. We further demonstrate how interparticle potentials can be mechanically manipulated, giving rise to rapid responsive behaviors. Finally, we explore how interfacial curvature contributes to counterintuitive multibody interactions that produce extraordinary extended colloidal assemblies, with precise regularity and length scales that can be system-spanning.

November 29, 2021
10:30 AM
EB1 1011
Dr. Joelle Frechette
University of California, Berkeley

Understanding and harnessing the coupling between lubrication pressure, elasticity, and surface interactions provides materials design strategies for applications such as adhesives, coatings, microsensors, and biomaterials. This presentation will discuss our efforts to understand how soft materials make contact and adhere under dynamic conditions in fluid environments. Measurements of interactions between soft surfaces will show how elastic films deform due to viscous forces and influence adhesion. In particular, we will discuss conditions dominated by viscous or surfaces forces. We will show qualitative differences in debonding mechanism caused by the elasticity of the substrate.


Joelle Frechette received her PhD from Princeton University in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science in 2005 studying surface forces and adhesion in electrochemical environment. After postdoctoral work at UC Berkeley where she investigated unwanted adhesion in microelectromechanical systems, she joined the Hopkins Faculty in 2006. Joelle Frechette was awarded the NSF CAREER award in 2008, the 3M untenured faculty award in 2008, the ONR Young Investigator Award in 2011, and was elected as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2017. Her research interests in the area of colloid and interfacial science include: adhesion in fluid environments, particles at fluid interfaces, and surface force measurements.

December 3, 2021
3:00 PM
EB1 1011
Dr. Elizabeth Nance
University of Washington

Children comprise roughly 27% of the world’s population, yet pediatric trials make up 17% of the total number of clinical trials registered with the World Health Organization, with only 7% of trials taking place in newborns. Approved adult therapeutics are often used off-label for children, and can take up to 7 years longer to go from the first clinical trial in adults to the first trial in children. These numbers highlight a significant gap in technology development for the neonatal and pediatric populations, particularly technology that focuses on improving therapeutic outcomes for children and newborns with a range of conditions. Our research seeks to develop and evaluate therapeutic delivery systems for newborns and children, whom have unique physiologies compared to adults. We have a specific focus on engineering therapeutics that mitigate or attenuate ongoing injury in the brain, with the goal to improve neurological function and quality of life across the lifespan.

In this talk, we will discuss our use of nanotechnology, neurobiology, and data science tools to characterize changes in brain microenvironments in living brain tissue and evaluate the subsequent impact on nanotherapeutic design and implementation. We will show how nanotherapeutics can leverage transport behavior in the brain to target regions of the brain that contain diseased cells – and uptake in diseased cells – for increased neuroprotection in neonatal and pediatric brain disease. We will close the talk with a perspective for the nanomedicine field that centers around two approaches: creating (1) open-access nanoformulation databases and (2) in vitro to in vivo therapeutic screening pipelines.


Dr. Elizabeth Nance joined the University of Washington in September 2015, and is currently the Jagjeet and Janice Bindra Career Development Endowed Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering, with adjunct appointments in Radiology, Bioengineering, and the eScience Institute. She also serves as the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in Chemical Engineering. Elizabeth received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from NC State University, and her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering with Dr. Justin Hanes. She then completed a postdoc with Dr. Sujatha Kannan in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, with a research emphasis in neuroscience, at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Elizabeth is an active collaborator in the neuroscience, neurology, and pediatric fields. In 2019, she received the Presidential Early Career Achievement in Science & Engineering (PECASE) award, and the UW Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, given to 4 faculty across the three UW campuses. She is a recipient of an NIGMS R35 MIRA award and the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award, in addition to receiving funding from NSF, NICHD, DoD, Microsoft Azure, and the Seattle Medical Foundation.