posted October 19, 2011

Student Research Chosen for National Chemical Engineering Conference

A total of five Hope College students who participated in research this past summer had their work selected for presentation during the October Annual Meeting and National Student Conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), with one of them receiving an award.

The five presentations equaled the total number of undergraduate research presentations from all other colleges and universities in Michigan combined. In the past three years, a total of 18 Hope students have participated in the undergraduate research session of the national conference, a number exceeded by only six other colleges or universities nationally.

Junior Howard Dobbs of Warrenville, Ill., won second place in the "General Papers" category, the second consecutive year that he received an award for his undergraduate research presentation at the conference. At least one student who participated in Hope's summer research program has received an award in the national competition in each of the last four years.

The National Student Conference ran Friday-Monday, Oct. 14-17, in conjunction with the Oct. 16-21 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minn. The undergraduate poster session took place on Monday, Oct. 17, and featured work grouped within a variety of categories within the field of chemical engineering.

The preliminary program for the student poster session listed 185 posters. The primary presenters represented institutions in 33 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and six other countries. Of the 68 colleges, universities and laboratories listed as affiliation of the primary presenter, only nine institutions had more posters in the event than Hope College.

All of the participating Hope students are engineering majors in the chemical, biochemical or environmental engineering emphasis options. Two Hope faculty in chemistry and one in engineering were mentors for one or more of the projects. One student completed her project externally as a National Science Foundation REU (Research in Undergraduate Institutions) participant and was mentored by a faculty member at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.

All five students attended the conference and presented their posters: Dobbs, as well as junior Katherine Brune of Midland; junior Jacob Green of New Hudson; sophomore Nicholas Hubley of Fox River Grove, Ill.; and senior Laine Klopfenstein of Chicago, Ill.

Dobbs won his second-place award in a combined category of "Computing and Process Control, Education, and General Papers" for the presentation "Free-Jet Vibration-Rotation Spectroscopy of Unstable Species," which he co-authored with Dr. William F. Polik, who is the Edward and Elizabeth Hofma Professor of Chemistry.

Brune's presentation, "Factors Affecting Kinetics and Equilibrium of Biodiesel Transesterification," was co-authored with Dr. Michael J. Misovich, associate professor of engineering. It appeared in the "Fuels, Petrochemicals, and Energy" category.

Green's presentation, "Palladium Catalyzed Carbon-Carbon Bond Activation of Triarylmethanols," was co-authored with junior James R. Bour of Kalamazoo and Dr. Jeffrey B. Johnson, assistant professor of chemistry. It appeared in the "Catalysis and Reaction Engineering" category.

Hubley's presentation, "Vapor Pressure Predictions of the Sanchez-Lacombe Equation," was also co-authored with Misovich, and it also appeared in the "General Papers" category.

Klopfenstein's presentation, "Case Study of Small-Scale Wind Turbine Power Production," was co-authored with Dr. Ruth D. Miller, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. It appeared in the "Sustainability" category.

In addition to the posters by Hope students, the event's presentations included "Insights from High-Throughput Reconstruction and Analysis of 3500 Genome-Scale Metabolic Models," by Christopher Henry of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. The research team working with Henry has included Hope faculty members Dr. Matt DeJongh, associate professor of computer science, and Dr. Aaron Best, associate professor of biology, who were among the co-authors listed for the presentation. An abstract of the presentation is available online.

The abstracts for the Hope students' presentations are searchable via their last names online.

AIChE is the world's leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, with more than 40,000 members from more than 90 countries.

Additional information about the AIChE annual meeting is available online.