Donahue quoted on the potential to control lightning with lasers

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue spoke with Inverse about the mysteries in the physics of how lightning emerges. A new study details the first successful attempt to divert lightning with lasers, more than 270 years after Benjamin Franklin’s lightning rod. Donahue believes the simple design of the lightning rod will be used for many more years. “Lightning rods are passive. They just sit there, they point, and they work,” he said.



Engineering staff nominated for Andy Awards

Congratulations to the following College of Engineering staff members who have been nominated for Andy Awards:

  • Commitment to Excellence, Rookie: Brian Brown (INI), Keren DeCarlo (MechE)
  • Commitment to Excellence, Veteran: Kristen Geiger (ECE)
  • Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Eva Mergner (MechE), Jessica Tomko (ECE)
  • Commitment to Students: Rachel Amos (INI)
  • Innovative and Creative Contributions: Brian Belowich (CEE), Elizabeth Clark (MSE), Athena Wintruba (III)
  • Spirit: Trish Hredzak-Showalter (ChemE)
  • Teamwork and Collaboration, Standing Teams: The Teck Spark Team (MechE): Ed Wojciechowski, Ryan Bates, Justin Harvilla, Jen Hitchcock, John Fulmer, Tom Rusu


Donahue to receive American Chemical Society Award
American Chemical Society

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue will receive the American Chemical Society (ACS) Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science at the ACS Spring 2023 meeting in Indianapolis. The award encourages creativity in research and technology or methods of analysis to provide a scientific basis for informed environmental control decision-making processes. Donahue is being recognized for developing the Volatility Basis Set (VBS), which has become one of the main tools to understand and describe the chemistry and physics of organic aerosols in the atmosphere.

Gomes named to “Talented 12” rising stars in chemistry
Chemical & Engineering News

ChemE’s Gabriel Gomes was named one of Chemical & Engineering News’ “Talented 12” rising stars in chemistry, which recognizes “early-career researchers in the chemical sciences who are fearlessly tackling difficult global problems.” Gomes was recently the recipient of a 2022 Scott Institute Seed Grant. The awarded project aims to make advancements in green chemistry by improving sustainable processes in catalysis science.

Panagakos receives funding for carbon-capture research
Science and Technology

ChemE’s Grigorios Panagakos has received funding from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program. The three-year project will involve work with other researchers at CMU to model designs to scale-up the carbon absorption process.


Donahue quoted on Allegheny County’s bid to be a “clean hydrogen hub”
Public Source

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was quoted on the proposal to make Pennsylvania the host of one of four clean hydrogen hubs nationwide. “Hydrogen is another form of energy storage, like batteries,” Donahue says. “The question is where does the energy required to produce hydrogen come from?” Donahue suggests that we should instead be focusing on funneling resources to renewable energy.

Donahue quoted in article on adding butane to gasoline

ChemE’s Neil Donahue was interviewed for a WTAE article on the possible environmental impacts of the White House proposal to put butane in gasoline in an effort to reduce gas prices. The article explains that butane evaporates extremely fast “The fact that it likes to evaporate from the gasoline instead of going through the engine is what makes it a serious thing when it comes to ozone pollution,” said Neil Donahue, “We pay in people getting sick.”


Khair earns AES Electrophoresis Society Mid-Career Award
AES Electrophoresis Society

ChemE’s Aditya Khair will be awarded this year’s AES Electrophoresis Society Mid-Career Award at the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies’ 2022 SciX Conference. The award acknowledges exceptional contributions to the field of electrophoresis, microfluidics, and related areas by an individual who is currently in the middle of their career. The nomination points to Khair’s internationally recognized research at the leading edge of theoretical fluid mechanics, as well as his outstanding mentorship and service to the AES and other organizations.


Scott Institute announces 2022 seed grants for five projects
Scott Institute

The Scott Institute has announced its latest seed grant awards worth $1.42 million to five research projects led by CMU Engineering faculty. This is the 10th annual round of grants awarded by the Scott Institute. Funding recipients include CEE’s Corey Harper, ChemE’s Gabriel dos Passos Gomes and Zachary Ulissi, CMU-Africa/ECE’s Barry Rawn, MechE’s Shawn Litster, and MSE’s Chris Pistorius.

Gounaris named director of new Shared Computing Facility

ChemE’s Chrysanthos Gounaris was named director of the new Shared Computing Facility at the College of Engineering. The on-campus resource is scheduled to operate in full-swing by the spring semester and will be available for use to all students, researchers, and faculty within the college.


Ulissi quoted on importance of reaction kinetics
Engineering & Technology Magazine

ChemE’s Zachary Ulissi spoke with Engineering & Technology Magazine about finding a catalyst to replace platinum in chemical reactions. Ulissi highlighted the role of reaction kinetics when testing new materials, saying they “are very important and necessary for more quantitative agreement with experiments.”


Biegler inducted into the Process Automation Hall of Fame
Control Magazine

ChemE’s Lorenz (Larry) Biegler is joining a prestigious list of individuals who have made a significant impact in process automation. Inducted into the 2022 class of Control Magazine’s Hall of Fame by a group of his peers, Biegler is recognized for his excellence, diligence, and influence on the process control industry. Biegler has spent the last 40 years at Carnegie Mellon, during which he’s made significant advancements in computer-aided process engineering, including flowsheet optimization, optimization of systems of differential and algebraic equations, reactor network synthesis, and algorithms for constrained, nonlinear process control, among others.


Rethink the Rink winners named
Rethink The Rink

Engineering students made up a majority of the first, second, third, and fourth place winners of this year’s Rethink the Rink make-a-thon, which focused on the “glass” along the ice rink perimeter to improve hockey player safety. These students dedicated their spring break to tackling a real-world problem with mentorship from our industry partners at Covestro and the Pittsburgh Penguins. At this excellent event, students showed off the high-quality education at CMU.

  • 1st Place - Best Overall: ECE senior Brandon Wang, ECE sophomore Luca Garlati, MechE sophomore Isaiah Lerch, and Ebrahim Karam, a master’s student in CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center. 
  • 2nd Place - Most Innovative: ECE junior Aichen Yao, ECE junior Zhichun Zhao, MechE/Physics first-year Betty Wang, and MSE first-year Tracy Wan.
  • 3rd Place - Best Prototype: CEE sophomore Alex Bram, MechE senior Andrew Spoto, MechE junior Daniel Fitzmorris, and MechE sophomore Rose McDermott.
  • 4th Place - Participation: ChemE junior Lucy Spero, III master’s student Tanya Gupta, MechE junior Jeanie Xu, and MSE first-year En Hung.

View the Penguins recap of the event.


Biegler awarded 2022 Sargent Medal 
Chemical Engineering

ChemE’s Larry Biegler was recently awarded the 2022 Sargent Medal by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE). Named after Roger Sargent, the former president of IChemE, former Courtaulds Professor of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London, and the founding father of process systems engineering (PSE), the award is considered one of the most prestigious in the field. It is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant recent contribution to research in the area of computer-aided product and process engineering.

Domach published in Water, Environment & Technology
Water Environment Federation

In the Water Environment Federation’s latest edition of Water Environment & Technology, ChemE’s Michael Domach explains how orthophosphate, which is increasingly being added to drinking water for lead corrosion abatement, may affect people and products on the other end of the line.

Collaboration leads to new open-source Python package
Imperial College

ChemE’s Carl Laird teamed up with researchers from Imperial College and Sandia National Labs to develop the new open-source Python package, OMLT, which provides various optimization formulations for machine learning models.

Whitehead featured in Pittsburgh Business Times
Pittsburgh Business Times

In the Pittsburgh Business Times’ latest “Personalities of Pittsburgh” article, Paul Gough sits down with ChemE’s Katie Whitehead to discuss mRNA vaccines, science communication, Whitehead’s hobbies, and more.


Robinson’s Alzheimer’s research featured
Technology Networks

ChemE Head Anne Robinson’s research on Alzheimer’s was featured in Technology Networks. Published in the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, Robinson’s latest research paper explains why understanding the progression of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease, and its eventual treatment, is much more complex than previously thought. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in America, and it affects one in 10 Americans over the age of 65. This statistic rises to one in three for people over 80. Robinson said, “Many of these models approach the problem from an all-or-nothing standpoint—normal tau protein only goes this way; malformed tau protein only goes that way, or malformed tau enters the cell this way; normal tau another way. However, operating under these models has historically produced seemingly conflicting data; data that researchers who study Alzheimer’s have been hard-pressed to reconcile.” Medical News Today also reported on this research. 

Gomes group publishes article in first edition of Nature Synthesis
Nature Synthesis

ChemE’s Gabe Gomes has published an article in Nature Synthesis on predictably activating C–H and C–C bonds for the synthesis of new materials remains a challenge within the synthetic community. A ternary catalytic dance between radicals, metals, and light may unlock this puzzle.