posted November 6, 2012

Student Research Honored at National Chemical Engineering Conference

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

The only institutions having more award winners than Hope were three large state universities.  At least one student who participated in Hope's summer research program has received an award in this national competition in each of the last five years.

The eight presentations by Hope students were double the total number of undergraduate research presentations from all other colleges and universities in Michigan combined.  In the past four years, a total of 26 Hope students have participated in the undergraduate research session of the national conference, a number exceeded by only five other colleges or universities nationally.

Senior Howard Dobbs of Warrenville, Ill., won second place in the “Fuels, Petrochemicals, and Energy III” category.  It was the third consecutive year that Dobbs received an award for his undergraduate research presentation at this conference.  Hope’s other award winners were senior Katherine Brune of Midland, who received third place in the “Materials Engineering and Sciences IV” category, and junior Alexander Perkins of Brighton, who received third place in the “Computing, Simulation, and Process Control” category.

The National Student Conference ran Friday-Monday, Oct. 26-29 and the Annual Meeting ran Sunday-Friday, Oct. 28-Nov. 2, in Pittsburgh, Pa.  The undergraduate poster session took place on Monday, Oct. 29, and featured work grouped within a variety of categories within the field of chemical engineering.

The preliminary program for the student poster session listed 224 posters.  The primary presenters represented institutions in 33 states, Puerto Rico, and five other countries.  Of the 75 colleges, universities and laboratories listed as affiliation of the primary presenter, only five institutions had more posters listed in the event than Hope College.

Nearly all of the participating Hope students are engineering majors, or plan to declare an engineering major, with most of them in the chemical, biochemical or environmental engineering emphasis options.  One is a chemistry major who plans to declare an engineering minor, and one is currently participating in a full-time engineering internship through December and will return to Hope next semester.  Three Hope faculty in chemistry, two in engineering, and one in mathematics were mentors for one or more of the projects.  One student completed his project externally as a participant in the 2012 Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships program of the U.S. Department of Energy and was mentored by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne.

In addition to Brune, Dobbs and Perkins, the Hope students attending the conference to present their posters were:  senior Kwang jin Kim of Seoul, South Korea; senior Jenelle Ranville of Grand Rapids; sophomore Evelyn Ritter of Libertyville, Ill.; and senior Samantha Steffens of Grand Rapids.  Sophomore Minchul Kim of Seoul, South Korea, was unable to attend, but his poster was displayed at the conference.

Dobbs won his second-place award for the presentation “Durability Analysis of Li-O2 Batteries Through in-Situ μ-XRD Characterization,” which he co-authored with Dr. Jianglan Shui and Dr. Di-jia Liu, researchers in Chemical Sciences and Engineering at Argonne National Laboratory.

Brune won her third-place award for “The Directed Alignment of Functionalized Nanowires Relative to Chemical Patterns,” which she co-authored with sophomore Cameron Holder of Naples, Fla., and Dr. Mary E. Anderson, assistant professor of chemistry.

Perkins won his third-place award for “Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulation of Wind Over Sand Dunes,” which he co-authored with Dr. Brian Yurk, assistant professor of mathematics.

Kwang jin Kim’s presentation, “A Cyclic Voltammetric Study of Three-Dimensionally Ordered Macroporous Carbon-Based Electrodes,” was co-authored with Dr. Kenneth L. Brown, associate professor of chemistry.  It appeared in the “Materials Engineering and Sciences II” category.

Minchul Kim’s poster, “An Improved Simple Method for Vapor Pressure Prediction From Cubic Equations of State,” was co-authored with Dr. Michael J. Misovich, associate professor of engineering.  It appeared in a combined category of “General Engineering and Engineering Education.”

Ranville’s presentation, “Factors Affecting the Kinetics of Biodiesel Reactions,” was also co-authored with Misovich.  It appeared in the “Fuels, Petrochemicals, and Energy II” category.

Ritter’s presentation, “Sediment Fingerprinting in the Lake Macatawa Watershed,” was co-authored with Daniel Callam, a 2009 Hope graduate who is with the Outdoor Discovery Center/Macatawa Greenway, and Dr. Graham F. Peaslee, who is the Elmer E. Hartgerink Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science.  It appeared in the “Environmental Science and Engineering II” category.

Steffens’s presentation, “Refinement of a Bench-Scale Corn-to-Ethanol Process Suitable for Introductory Laboratories,” was co-authored with Dr. John J. Krupczak Jr., professor of engineering.  It also appeared in the combined category of “General Engineering and Engineering Education.”

The abstracts for the presentations are searchable by entering “Hope College Holland” as a search phrase at https://aiche.confex.com/aiche/2012/webprogramadapt/start.html .

AIChE is the world’s leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, with more than 40,000 members from more than 90 countries.  http://www.aiche.org/about/

Information on the AIChE annual meeting is available at: http://www.aiche.org/Conferences/AnnualMeeting/index.aspx