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The Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering

Neil Ivory Named Inaugural Hohenschuh Distinguished Professor

Prof. Neil Ivory leading students in discussion
Prof. Neil Ivory leading students in discussion
Neil Ivory
Neil Ivory
Paul Hohenschuh
Paul Hohenschuh

Professor Cornelius (Neil) Ivory has been named as the inaugural Paul Hohenschuh Distinguished Professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering.

The professorship, which was recently created by Paul Hohenschuh and Marjorie Winkler, was announced at the Voiland School’s spring advisory board meeting. The professorship is to be used to recruit and/or retain a world-class, internationally-recognized faculty member, providing annual funding support for materials, equipment, staff, graduate student salaries or other support that furthers his or her research program.

A faculty member at WSU since 1989, Ivory is a well-known researcher in the area of bioseparations, where his work is focused on the development of novel systems to enable molecular-level protein separations and purification. The work has important implications in a variety of areas ranging from separations of radionuclides for national defense to purification of proteins that are used in pharmaceuticals and other health-related applications.

Ivory worked with his students to develop a separation technique called dynamic field-gradient focusing, which enables the isolation and purification of specific desired and undesired molecules by trapping them in an electric field gradient. Using this and other separation techniques, he is working with his collaborators to develop a blood test that may be used in a physician’s office to quickly and simply identify protein biomarkers that indicate if a patient is at-risk of suffering a heart attack. He also has worked with pharmaceutical companies to develop ways to better detect impurities in commercial pharmaceuticals, and is applying his technologies to enable the purification and detection of specific radioactive isotopes that have implications for national defense. Ivory holds five patents, with several others pending, and has more than 80 refereed publications. He holds a M.S. and Ph.D. from Princeton University in chemical engineering and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Professor Neil Ivory working with PhD student, Ashfaq Ansery, in the lab
Professor Neil Ivory working with PhD student, Ashfaq Ansery, in the lab

The Hohenschuh professorship employs a unique gift mechanism that allows the donor to commit a specific gift amount for a set period of years to support a faculty position or a scholarship. While most chairs and professorships have typically come from an endowment established in a donor’s estate plan, this new annual gift mechanism allows a donor to fund faculty and students immediately, says Don Shearer, associate director of development for the Voiland School. In so doing, the donor is able to immediately see the gift’s impact.

Hohenschuh (‘64 BS, ‘70 MS) grew up in Washougal in rural southwestern Washington. When he came to WSU with support of a scholarship, he was overwhelmed by the rigorous program in chemical engineering as well as continual financial stress. Two professors, George Austin, who was department chair, and Harry Stern, were particularly instrumental in helping him at critical times in continuing his education. He went on to become vice president of manufacturing of Genentech, a leading biotechnology/pharmaceutical company. He is now retired.

“We are grateful to Paul and Marjorie for their investment in the faculty of this school,”said Jim Petersen, director of the Voiland School. “With this support, they are helping to enhance the school’s performance, helping grow its reputation while ensuring that we have the best faculty teaching engaging, challenging, and educating our students. In so doing they’re showing how much they care about and support the School’s mission. They will truly make a difference in the lives of both chemical engineering and bioengineering students.”

Best-Paying College Major: Engineering

A story published on April 8 by CNNMoney reported the results of the most recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The article was entitled “Best-paying college major: engineering”. It notes that “Majors in the engineering field dominated the association’s list of top-paying degrees for the class of 2011, with four of the top five spots going to engineering major… Chemical engineers were offered the highest starting salaries this year—an average of $66,646.” Average chemical engineering salaries exceed the average salary of the next highest major, mechanical engineering, by more than 10%. This analysis illustrates the tremendous national need for chemical engineers. The need in WA is even greater, given the breadth of industries that rely on chemical engineering expertise. Such industries include, for example, cleanup and clean energy companies clustered around the Hanford site in southeast WA, the petroleum refineries in northwest WA, airplane brake manufacturers in Spokane, and polysilicone for solar energy in Moses Lake. Chemical Engineers are needed throughout the nation and state. See the full article at CNNMoney for a more detailed analysis.

Howard Davis and Denny Davis win 2011 Library Excellence Award

Howard Davis
Howard Davis
Denny Davis
Denny Davis

Howard Davis and Denny Davis of the Bioengineering program were named as the joint winners of the 2011 Library Excellence Award. Davis and Davis identified an important educational need in their senior bioengineering capstone design class: the lack of Information Literacy skills in many of their students. Concerned about their students’ ability to succeed, not only in the classroom but in their future careers, they devoted valuable time to participate with WSU librarians in the Project to Improve Information Literacy Skills Development (PRMWG) in WSU Engineering Courses. Wendy Blake, the Chair of PRMWG notes that “Dr. Denny Davis and Dr. Howard Davis have clearly demonstrated their appreciation for the WSU Libraries by their enthusiastic personal commitment to improving the research skills of their students.”

Drs. Davis will be honored at the annual LEA reception on Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 10:00 AM–11:00 AM in the Terrell Atrium.

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