Texas Tech University

Fall 2021 Newsletter

Chemical Engineering Newsletter

Faculty Research

This year, our faculty received more than $7.5 million dollars in awards.  Their research crosses many disciplines, including:

  • Bioengineering and nanomaterials
  • Energy and sustainability
  • Electrochemical engineering
  • Soft matter and nanotechnology
  • Computational modelling and data science



KhatibDr. Sheima Khatib
Selected for funding from the US DOE to produce benzene from flared natural gas instead of petroleum

$2.6 million, 3-year award



MalmaliDr. Mahdi Malmali
Selected for funding from the US DOE EERE for grid decarbonization using solar technologies.

$2.05 million award




BotteDr. Gerri Botte
Selected for funding $750,000 award in two years from the US DOE Basic Science under the polymer upcycling program, for the project “Understanding and Controlling Electrochemical Routes for Upcycling of Polyolefins” in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Dow Chemical.

She also received $999,000 award from DARPA to develop an ultra-fast COVID-19 air sensor, an NSF I-Corps grant for COVID-19 Saliva Sensor and spun-off a company, EviroTECH, for the commercialization of COVID-19 sensor securing $4 million in investment.


SivaDr. Siva Vanapalli
Selected once again for a NASA grant centered around another space-flight project with worms

$2 million award (TTU lead with Baylor, Rutgers, and Ohio University partners)


ChenDr. Chau-Chyun Chen
Selected for DOE BETO proposal on “Physical property data and models for bio-separations” together with AIChE RAPID, Argonne, Siemens, AspenTech, and Chemstations

$2.8 million total award with $750,000 for TTU



Faculty in Chemical Engineering among top 2% of global researchers
The department of Chemical Engineering was among 73 former and current Texas Tech faculty identified in an Elsevier study of the most cited work. The study was based on a 2020 Stanford study of nearly 7 million working global scientists. The study identified the top 2% of global researchers based on the frequency with which their published works were cited.

ChE faculty cited in the survey: 

  • Gerri G. Botte
  • Chau-Chyun Chen
  • Greg McKenna
  • Sindee Simon

Other recent publications from our faculty include:

Dr. Chau-Chyun Chen
P. Vyawahare, et al., “From Langmuir Isotherm to Brunauer–Emmett–Teller Isotherm,” accepted, AIChE Journal, 2021

Y. Lin, et al. “Association-based Activity Coefficient Model for Electrolyte Solutions,” AIChE Journal, 2021, e17422.

Y. Hao, C.-C. Chen, “Nonrandom Two-Liquid Activity Coefficient Model with Association Theory,” AIChE Journal, 2021, 67 (1), e17061

Dr. Joseph Gauthier
“Solar-driven Electrochemical Synthesis of Ammonia Using Nitrate With 11% Solar-to-Fuel Efficiency at Ambient Conditions” paper published in Energy and Environmental Science journal


GillInnovation and entrepreneurship

ChEck program helps keep students connected and safe
As part of our efforts to connect with students more effectively, we have implemented the ChEck program powered by Podium. This text-based communication tool uses a QR code that enables students to scan the code right from their phones to connect with our ChEck admin team. In the evaluation phase, 45 students have used the program to ask questions about admissions, transfer credits, graduate degree requirements, and departmental events. The university is currently evaluating the program for deployment across te entire university.

Entrepreneurship course teaches students how to commercialize their ideas

Priya Gill is an assistant professor of practice and has served as faculty ambassador at the Innovation Hub at Research Park. She teaches entrepreneurship to our chemical engineering students to help them commercialize their ideas. The annual course includes learning basic business concepts, which the students then use in creating and presenting business and execution plans. Professor Gill's course furthers the department's mission that our work benefit society.

The Hub makes the commercialization process smoother with its three-stage “Ideation, Commercialization, and Acceleration” roadmap. Professors Botte and Vanapalli have both commercialized their research through the Hub program. EviroTECH offers an electrochemistry-based saliva test that makes COVID-19 testing quick and painless. NemaLife offers efficient C. elegans screening systems for research laboratories with patented microfluidic technology. The systems automate manual steps, enabling researchers to “forget the worm pick and focus only on science!”

Thank you

This newsletter is made possible through the generous support of the TTU Department of Chemical Engineering's External Advisory Board.


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