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Northeastern University College of Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering Newsletter  March | 2016
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Letter from the Chair


Thomas J. WebsterWelcome to our March newsletter!

Over the last month, we mixed a lot of fun with learning as we hosted our 2nd Annual Chemical Engineering Day. We ate liquid nitrogen ice cream, jumped rope, played trivia, listened to professor Lucas Landherr perform stand-up comedy, and hosted a Nobel Prize laureate (Jean-Marie Lehn, who was professor Hicham Fenniri's PhD thesis advisor). Dr. Lehn initiated the field of supramolecular chemistry, which has revolutionized everything from alternative energy to regenerative medicine. We were all incredibly impressed with his vision and words of enthusiasm as we collectively recognized how far the field of applied chemistry has progressed over the past several decades. He certainly has left his mark on the world through his work in chemical engineering.

In this issue, you will also see that our faculty and students are continuing to make their own contributions to chemical engineering as they rake in numerous awards. We are all now taking a quick breather as we get ready to send our seniors off to the real world as they graduate in May. They will be our largest graduation class ever, at over 90 students.

We are gearing up for our Chemical Engineering Banquet on April 20, which coincides with our Senior Design Presentation Day. We hope you will join us during our banquet and listen to all the hard work our seniors have put into their design projects, getting ready to make their own mark on the world in chemical engineering.

Webster sig
Thomas J. Webster

Professor and Department Chair, Chemical Engineering
Art Zafiropoulo Chair in Engineering

Celebration and Education at 2nd Annual Chemical Engineering Day


On Feb. 24, students, faculty, and staff came together to celebrate Chemical Engineering as part of National Engineers Week. Featuring a full day of programming, Chemical Engineering Day started with a seminar from Nobel Prize laureate Jean-Marie Lehn. Speaking to a rapt audience about research and engineering at the molecular and supramolecular levels, Dr. Lehn shared his thoughts on the steps toward complex matter.

PhD students Garima Bhardwaj, Chris Cogswell, and Arthur Gonzalez III shared their advice and perspective on grad school in an event for undergraduate students. Bhardwaj, Cogswell, and Gonzalez covered a range of topics including work-life balance, applying to grad schools, professional associations, and preparing for a career in academia vs. industry. Students in the audience were able to ask questions at the end, and the panel was moderated by professor Eno Ebong. Professor Ebong also leads the Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Council, an organization that promotes both on and off campus student activities and communication throughout the department.

After a delicious pizza lunch, attendees enjoyed games and activities including tug-of-war, jumping rope, liquid nitrogen ice cream, making slime, and building marshmallow structures. The highlight of the afternoon was the nitrogen ice-cream from Chris Cogswell, who also improvised and made freeze dried marshmallows for attendees as well. Remarks Cogswell, “It was a really fun day, with probably my best liquid nitrogen ice cream to date! I also enjoyed the student panel a lot, and hope that this event can continue to be a bonding event between graduate students and undergrads.”

The most anticipated event was the stand-up comedy show from professor Lucas Landherr. Professor Landherr is well known for his sense of humor in the department and is a web comic who created Surviving the World under the alias Dante Shepherd. Landherr was recently published in the book The Hustle Economy: Transforming Your Creativity Into a Career with a short story titled “Respect the Catalysts” under the name Dante Shepherd. This was Landherr’s second time performing at Chemical Engineering Day, with his trademark white lab coat and Red Sox hat. The audience was rolling with laughter at hilarious stories about grad school, teaching, and summer camp.

Chemical Engineering Day concluded with trivia put together by members of the GSC, and moderated by professor Ed Goluch. The winners were awarded Northeastern University Chemical Engineering t-shirts. The trivia was a tie between team “Joe” and team “One If By Satvat and Two If By Landherr.”

“I think the entire event was a lot of fun and helped the undergrads and grad students to bond over fun and games. I had fun answering the questions posed to us by the undergrads during the grad panel, which Dr. Ebong did a wonderful job of conducting. I hope that was helpful to them. My favorite event was the stand up by Dr. Landherr,” says Bhardwaj.

PhD Student Mahboobeh Rezaeeyazdi Awarded WAAIME Scholarship Award for 2016-2017


Congratulations to Mahboobeh Rezaeeyazdi for being awarded the WAAIME Scholarship for the 2016-2017 academic year. Rezaeeyazdi has a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Northeastern University where she worked on characterization of metals and alloy systems.

Rezaeeyazdi is currently a third year PhD student in the Department of Chemical Engineering, working on nanoparticle enhanced radiation therapy to develop next generation platforms enabled by nanoparticles for early detection and treatment of cancer.

The Women's Auxiliary to AIME (WAAIME) Scholarship fund provides scholarships on an annual basis to students pursuing degrees in mining, geological sciences, metallurgy, petroleum, mineral sciences, materials science, and engineering, mineral economics, chemical engineering, and other related studies. The scholarship is funded by the Society for American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME.)

Professor Eno Ebong Presents Invited Talk on “Biomechanics of Vascular Disease” at Tufts University


On Feb. 25, professor Eno Ebong presented an invited talk on “Biomechanics of Vascular Disease" at Tufts University in Medford, Massacusetts.

Professor Ebong's talk was sponsored by the School of Engineering and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Her research group combines and applies chemical engineering, physics, live biological imaging, molecular biology, and pathology approaches to study mechanobiology. Mechanobiology is the process by which mammalian cells convert forces into biological responses. Professor Ebong focuses on the process in the blood vessels, mechanobiology can prevent or promote atherosclerotic plaque growth—a precursor to heart attack and other serious conditions.

Alum Aaron Lamoureux, E’12, Published in Nature Communications


Aaron Lamoureux graduated from Northeastern University in 2012 with a BS in chemical engineering and minor in physics. He was also an active member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and captain of the Northeastern ChemE-Car team.

Lamoureux is currently attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Shtein Lab in the Materials Science and Engineering department. Lamoureux’s research focuses on understanding dynamic three-dimensional design principles to develop novel mechanical and optoelectronic systems with increased performance, decreased fabrication costs, and greater economic value.

In a recently published paper in Nature Communications, Lamoureux outlines a novel solar tracker based on ancient origami and kirigami design principles, whereby a simple cut pattern is used to control the angle of the solar cells as a function of strain. The angle of tilt of each element is integral to the device at the substrate level, which significantly reduces weight and eliminates the need for the support structures and complex control systems typically found in conventional trackers. Going forward, Lamoureux anticipates similar design philosophies may be used to inspire a broader range of applications, including phased array radar and optical beam steering.

Professor and Chair Thomas Webster Chosen for Special Visiting Professor Program in Brazil with NIH and Leading Brazilian Research Foundation


Thomas Webster, Professor and Art Zafiropoulo Chair of Chemical Engineering, was awarded a position in the Special Visiting Professor Program between The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). Professor Webster will use this award to run nanomedicine programs in Brazil this coming May.

This program presents a technological innovation for polymer scaffold fabrication with the incorporation of nanoparticles using electrospinning and rotary-jet spinning techniques, ultimately for use in bone tissue regeneration. Recently, Webster hosted a webinar with the Society for Biomaterials on “Developing Successful Global Collaborations.” Professor Webster believes in collaborating on research internationally and will continue work with professor Anderson de Oliveira Lobo on anti-bacterial, pro-bone growth materials without the incorporation of pharmaceutical drugs.

February/March/April Publications


Reaction Mechanism Generator: Automatic construction of chemical kinetic mechanisms
By: Connie W. Gao, Joshua W. Allen, William H. Green, Richard H. West
COMPUTER PHYSICS COMMUNICATIONS, Available online 24 February 2016

Reducing bone cancer cell functions using selenium nanocomposites
By: Stolzoff, Michelle; Webster, Thomas J.
JOURNAL OF BIOMEDICAL MATERIALS RESEARCH PART A Volume: 104 Issue: 2 Pages: 476–482 Published: FEB 2016

Enhanced chondrocyte culture and growth on biologically inspired nanofibrous cell culture dishes
By: Bhardwaj, Garima; Webster, Thomas J.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NANOMEDICINE Volume: 11 Pages: 479–483 Published: FEB 2016

Antimicrobial performance of mesoporous titania thin films: role of pore size, hydrophobicity, and antibiotic release
By: Atefyekta S, Ercan B, Karlsson J, Taylor E, Chung S, Webster TJ, Andersson M
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NANOMEDICINE Volume 11 Pages 977–990 Published MARCH 2016

Preparation and characterization of biodegradable nano hydroxyapatite–bacterial cellulose composites with well-defined honeycomb pore arrays for bone tissue engineering applications
By: Pelagie Marlene Favi, Sandra Patricia Ospina, Mukta Kachole, Ming Gao, Lucia Atehortua, Thomas Jay Webster
CELLULOSE Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 1263-1282 Published: APRIL 2016
For more information on this and other happenings in Chemical Engineering, visit the Department news blotter.
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