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The Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering

Alumni Gift Establishes Professorship in Energy

Brion and Ronda Wise
Brion and Ronda Wise

PULLMAN, WA—Washington State University’s Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering has received a gift from alumnus Brion Wise to establish the B. Wise Professorship in Energy Production.

The gift will allow the Voiland School to grow its successful program to provide educational opportunities for students who, like Gene Voiland, Brion Wise and a host of alumni who preceded them, desire to become leaders in the petroleum production industry, said Jim Petersen, director of the Voiland School.
Petroleum demand continues to grow worldwide, while energy production and conversion technologies are undergoing dramatic, rapid changes. With a long tradition of producing graduates who become leaders in this industry, this gift helps the Voiland School continue to produce chemical engineers who are uniquely qualified to take a leadership role in meeting the needs of the energy sector.

The school’s research in catalysis is leading to more efficient production of fuels and byproducts. In the past decade, the school has more than doubled its enrollment while also building stronger relationships in the industry. The gift supports hiring of a faculty member who will have enhanced industry collaboration, enabling the Voiland School to provide a transformational, high quality, highly relevant student experience and thus enabling the university to achieve one of its two primary strategic emphases.
“As world energy use continues to rise, our Voiland School chemical engineers will be critically needed to develop the best and most efficient technologies to meet demand,” said Jim Petersen, director of the Voiland School. “With this gift, we can now provide an enhanced education for our students that will prepare them to become leaders in the industry and help meet the industry’s future production needs.”

“At the same time, Brion’s generous gift will also grow the Voiland School’s stature,” he added. “We are so grateful for his support.”

After graduating from WSU with a chemical engineering degree in 1968, Wise went to work for Shell Oil. He went on to found Western Gas Resources in 1971, serving as director, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president. He is now chairman of the board at Flat Iron Resources, an oil and gas exploration and production company. He also is owner of B Wise Vineyards, which is located in Sonoma, CA, where he applies chemical engineering principles to enable the production of high quality wines.

Fanglin Che, Yan Li, and Rebecca Long Receive Kokes Awards

Rebecca Long
Rebecca Long
Yan Li
Yan Li
Fanglin Che
Fanglin Che
Three Voiland graduate students have each recently won a Kokes award, which will partially fund their travel to present their work at the 24th North American Catalysis Society meeting this coming summer in Pittsburgh, PA. Approximately 100 students worldwide receive this highly competitive award. The students who won are Fanglin Che (working with Dr. Jean-Sabin McEwen), Yan Li (working with Dr. Yong Wang), and Rebecca Long (working with Dr. Yong Wang).

The Richard J. Kokes Travel Award program of NACS aims to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to attend and participate in the North American Catalysis Society biennial conference. It provides funding to waive the student conference registration fee, and includes accommodation at the Omni William Penn Hotel in a room shared with another Kokes awardee and a modest travel allowance. The Kokes award is sponsored by the North American Catalysis Society. In addition, significant support will be provided by government agencies such as NSF and US-DOE. This is a very competitive award with almost 200 excellent applications submitted for the 100 awards granted.

Paper by Dr. Yong Wang, Yan Li, and Zhehao Wei Chosen as Feature by Journal of Catalysis

Zhehao Wei
Zhehao Wei
Yan Li
Yan Li
Dr. Yong Wang
Dr. Yong Wang

A recent manuscript co-authored by Dr. Yong Wang, doctoral graduate student Yan Li, and recent Voiland graduate Zhehao Wei was chosen as a “Featured Article” by the Journal of Catalysis for February 2015. The article will be featured prominently on the Journal of Catalysis’ website and will be available for free to the public for 3 months following publication of the respective issue. The title of the paper is, “Elucidation of the roles of Re in steam reforming of glycerol over Pt–Re/C catalysts.”

View the paper at the Journal of Catalysis ↗

Sujala Sultana Wins William R. Wiley Graduate Research Award

Sujala Sultana in the lab
Last month Chemical Engineering PhD student Sujala Sultana won the “Best Oral Presentation” award in the 2015 William R. Wiley Research Exposition for the category of Engineering and Physical Sciences. Sultana’s advisor is Dr. Haluk Beyenal. She will receive a $1,000 scholarship as part of the award.

The title of Sultana’s presentation was, “Electrochemical Scaffold for Acinetobacter baumannii Biofilm removal.” In this work, she has developed an electrochemical scaffold system that is capable of continuous controlled delivery of hydrogen peroxide via oxygen reduction reaction and thus remove A. baumannii biofilm from infected porcine dermal explant. This research offers a foundation for a future alternative antibiotic free wound dressing for the multi-drug resistant A. baumannii biofilm infections.

Tablets Increase Neck Demand 3-5 Times, Ergonomic Study Says

Dr. Anita Vasaveda and Dr. David Lin working with graduate student in lab

PULLMAN, Wash. – Demand on neck muscles increases 3-5 times when using tablet computers compared to sitting with the head in a neutral position, according to recent research by Anita Vasavada at Washington State University. The lowest demand on the neck was when the tablet was in a high propped position.

The paper was published in February in the journal Ergonomics.

View full story at WSU Today ↗

Voiland Undergraduates Receive Multiple SURCA Awards

A number of Voiland undergraduate students performed exceedingly well at the recent Showcase for Undergraduate Research and creative Activities (SURCA).

Congratulations to the following winners:

  • Samantha Grover received the Crimson Award for “Molecular, Cellular, and Chemical Biology.” She was mentored by Dmitri Tolkatchev and Alla Kostyukova.
  • Zane Duke received a Grey Award for “Engineering and Physical Sciences.” He was mentored by Anita Vasavada.
  • Samuel Byrd received a Grey Award for “Engineering and Physical Science.” He was mentored by Howard Davis.
  • Megan Caruso received a Novice Award in “Molecular, Cellular and Chemical Biology.” She was mentored by Monica Hin.

View full story at WSU Today

Samantha Grover, winner of the Crimson Award for “Molecular, Cellular and Chemical Biology”
Samantha Grover, winner of the Crimson Award for “Molecular, Cellular and Chemical Biology”
Megan Caruso, winner of a Novice Award in “Molecular, Cellular and Chemical Biology”
Megan Caruso, winner of a Novice Award in “Molecular, Cellular and Chemical Biology”

Xiao Zhang Earns Top National Award for Biofuels Research

Students in Dr. Xiao Zhang's lab
Students in Dr. Xiao Zhang’s lab

Washington State University professor Xiao Zhang has received a prestigious National Science Foundation award to junior faculty for his work in converting tough plant material to liquid fuels.

He is developing an innovative chemical pathway to convert lignin to open chain hydrocarbons similar to those that make up jet fuel. The results will lead to new processes for producing sustainable fuel and improving economic and environmental sustainability of biorefinery operations.

“This is a potentially transformative technology, which can lead to large scale utilization of lignin,” said Zhang, assistant professor in the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering at WSU Tri-Cities.

Read entire article at WSU News ↗