Strahl to serve extended residency at NETL

ChemE Ph.D. student William Strahl has been awarded an extended residency with the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Under the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program, Strahl will work on research projects at NETL that address critical energy and environmental challenges on national and international scales. His research at NETL will advance his overall doctoral thesis.

Gordon comments on release of benzene into the air

ChemE’s Hamish Gordon spoke with WTAE about a recent accidental release of benzene into the air from the Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, PA. While benzene is a toxic volatile organic compound, Gordon thinks acute or immediate health effects from this release are unlikely.


Miller honored as Modern Maker
Manufacturing USA

ChemE student Lance Miller was honored as a Modern Maker by Manufacturing USA. He was nominated by the RAPID Manufacturing Institute for his service as president and design lead of CMU's ChemE Cube™ team, which won the 2022 competition. As leader, Miller combined research techniques with what he had learned as an intern in a lean manufacturing role to refine the process efficiency of their cube. Shrinking its weight and energy requirements while keeping it safe and productive was key to their success.

Miller is completing his fourth year in the five-year Integrated Master's/Bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, along with a minor in operations and supply chain management. He is vice president of the CMU chapter of AIChE, a Tartan Ambassador, and in CMU Vocal Jazz Choir, Scotch'N'Soda Theatre, Tisbert Sketch Comedy, D Flat Singers, and Carnegie Mellon Solar Racing.

Donahue quoted on toxic residue from Indiana plastics fire
Associated Press

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was quoted by the Associated Press after asbestos was discovered in debris from a fire at a scrap plastics business in Indiana. Donahue explained that any significant disturbance, such as a structural failure, can release microscopic asbestos fibers, which can then be lifted and dispersed by a fire plume.


Whitehead highlighted for packaging mRNA for the pancreas
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

Research by ChemE/BME’s Kathryn Whitehead was featured as a Science Highlight by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Whitehead's lab developed lipid nanoparticles that are designed to carry mRNA specifically to the pancreas. Their study could pave the way for novel therapies for diabetes, cancer, and other pancreatic diseases.

Gomes organizes symposium at ACS Spring 2023 meeting

ChemE’s Gabe Gomes was co-organizer and co-presider of the Machine Learning and AI for Organic Chemistry symposium at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring 2023 meeting. The symposium focused on the application of machine learning techniques to the understanding and prediction of chemical reactivity.

Donahue comments about chemicals transported by rail

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue spoke with WTAE for their Chronicle episode “Trouble on the Tracks.” Donahue commented on some of the hazardous chemicals transported by train. He advocated for the government to hold the rail industry to higher safety standards and shared his concerns about the unintended formation of dioxins after derailments release chemicals.

2023 Seiner Lecture

Eric Johnson, Senior Director, Research Fellow in Procter & Gamble Hair Care R&D, will give the Jerry Seiner Memorial Lecture in Colloids, Polymers, and Surfaces on April 4, 2023. Dr. Johnson's talk is titled "Formulation and drug delivery science on the world's largest shampoo brand." The Seiner Lecture commemorates the contributions of Jerome Seiner, a founding member of the industrial advisory board of the Colloids, Polymers, and Surfaces (CPS) program at Carnegie Mellon. Seiner graduated from the chemical engineering department of Carnegie Tech in 1954 and spent his technical career at PPG Industries.

Gomes talks chemistry, computers, and humans on podcast
Bringing Chemistry to Life

ChemE’s Gabe Gomes was interviewed for the Bringing Chemistry to Life podcast. Gomes talked about his early opportunities in science, augmenting chemistry with machine learning, and how the Gomes Group is using new tools for research he wouldn’t have thought possible a year ago.

Four Engineering alumni celebrated in the most recent Tartans on the Rise class

In the most recent class of Tartans on the Rise, four Engineering alumni will be recognized for their substantial contributions in their fields and their communities. These included Rohyt Belani (2002), Emmanuel Chebukati (2018), Michelle O’Malley (2004), and Hooman Radfar (2004).

Donahue fact checks claim about vinyl chloride ban
USA Today

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was interviewed by USA Today about the claim circulating on social media that vinyl chloride was banned in 1974. The use of vinyl chloride in aerosols was banned in 1974, shortly after it was established that vinyl chloride was carcinogenic. Donahue noted that vinyl chloride is still used in other ways, most commonly PVC piping.


Donahue quoted in article fact-checking toxic clouds after Ohio train derailment

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was quoted by Snopes about the viral video allegedly showing toxic clouds after the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. He thinks the clouds in the video were there regardless of the accident and chemical burn. The black smoke plume seen rising from the tanker fire, however, could well be called a toxic cloud, according to Donahue.

Donahue quoted on toxic gases from Ohio train derailment
Associated Press

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue spoke with the Associated Press about the toxic chemicals released and burned after a train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Donahue explained that dioxins could have formed from the burning of vinyl chloride, a gas used to make hard plastic resin in products like PVC piping. “Vinyl chloride is bad, dioxins are worse as carcinogens and that comes from burning,” Donahue said.


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.

Torres featured in “Women in Chemical Engineering” special issue
Chemical Engineering Research and Design

ChemE's Ana Inés Torres was recognized as one of the top women researchers across the globe by Chemical Engineering Research and Design. Her paper on a superstructure-based optimization framework to design hydrogen production processes was published in the "Women in Chemical Engineering" special issue.

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.”