Graduate Student News

Graduate Students Garner Awards for Outstanding Research and Teaching

Qian Tian won first place in the Student Poster Competition at the International Conference for Thermal Analysis and gradCalorimetry (ICTAC), held in Orlando, FL. Qian, a Ph.D. student, working under the supervision of Dr. Sindee L. Simon, is performing research that deals with equilibrium free radical polymerization of butyl methacrylate. She is using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) to study the competition between the propagation reaction and depolymerization that occurs as the reaction temperature increases towards the ceiling temperature. Since a limiting conversion can be caused by either thermodynamic equilibrium or insufficient initiator, experiments were carried out with different di-tert-butyl peroxide initiator concentrations. The results show that the equilibrium effect dominates for initiator concentrations higher than 0.25 %. Future work will further explore thermodynamic equilibrium effects under nanoconfinement.

gradMd Islam presented his work at the 2016 International Conference on Properties and Phase Equilibria for Product and Process Design (PPEPPD)in Porto, Portugal, with travel support provided by the conference. Islam is pursuing thermodynamic modeling of asphaltene precipitation from crude oil as a part of larger effort to correlate and predict the compatibility of bituminous or heavy oils with paraffinic ones. Recently, he, together with Meng Wang, Yifan Hao, and Dr. Chau-Chyun Chen, developed a novel aggregation thermodynamic framework for asphaltene precipitation by applying the current understanding of asphaltene molecular structure and state-of-art applied thermodynamics. His model successfully correlated and predicted asphaltene precipitation in a wide spectrum of pure and binary solvents. Currently, he is extending his work to crude oil compatibility based on the full molecular representation of petroleum feedstocks.

gradgradgradSriramvignesh Mani, Fardin Khabaz, and Rutvik V. Godbole were awarded the 2016 Raider Red Award for Outstanding Peer-Reviewed Journal Paper for their work, "Structure and Hydrogen Bonding of Water in Polyacrylate Gels: Effects of Polymer Hydrophilicity and Water Concentration," that was co-authored with Chemical Engineering faculty members Ronald C. Hedden and Rajesh Khare. The focus of the work was understanding how diffusivity of water occurs in polyacrylate membranes, which are candidates for membranes to separate ethanol–water biofuel mixtures, and how that diffusivity is tied to membrane performance. In particular, it was shown using molecular dynamics simulations that water in the swollen gels form hydrogen bonds with the polymer at low concentrations, whereas water forms large clusters at high concentrations which lead to higher water diffusivity through the swollen membranes. The award of $500 was shared by the three students who also received a Certificate of Award for their efforts.

gradgradRohan S. Ingrole and Xinmei Wang were honored to receive the Best TA award for their performance in the Spring 2016 term. Each received a plaque and a $ 500 check sponsored by the Chemical Engineering External Advisory Board's Fund for Excellence. Ingrole was commended for his professionalism and excellent preparation for discussions in ChE 2410 Thermodynamics I. Wang was commended for her dedication to teaching and her clear, organized presentations for ChE 3323 Reaction Engineering. With our large enrollments, the performance of the TAs becomes ever more critical for the success of our undergraduates, and this award recognizes the positive influence that these TAs had on the classes that they were associated with.