A total of eight students from Hope attended this year’s Annual Meeting and National Student Conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, with several making presentations on their research and senior Rylan Prafke receiving a first-place award.  They also had an opportunity to connect with Howard Dobbs ’13, who had participated in the event while a Hope student and made a presentation this year in conjunction with his graduate work.  Pictured from left to right are Sean Gitter, Shannon Urbanik, Eric Weeda, Nicholas Olen, Howard Dobbs, Rylan Prafke, Jacob Pledger, Emma Donahoe and Chan Hwang.

A total of seven 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 one of them receiving an award.

The seven presentations represented more than half of the 12 undergraduate research presentations from colleges and universities in Michigan, and exceeded the total submitted by all institutions statewide from 18 U.S. states.  In the past eight years, a total of 49 Hope students have participated in the undergraduate research session of this national conference, a number exceeded by only seven other colleges or universities nationally.

Senior Rylan Prafke of Ada won first place in the “Materials Engineering and Sciences 8” category.

At least one student who participated in Hope’s summer research program has received an award in this national competition in seven of the last nine years.  Through the years those award-winning students included 2013 Hope graduate Howard Dobbs, who is now a graduate student in chemical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara and was also among this year’s presenters.

The National Student Conference ran Friday-Monday, Nov. 11-14, and the Annual Meeting ran Sunday-Friday, Nov. 13-18, in San Francisco, California.  The undergraduate poster session took place on Monday, Nov. 14, and featured work grouped within a variety of categories within the field of chemical engineering.

The preliminary program for the student poster session listed 386 posters.  The primary presenters represented institutions in 41 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 12 other countries.  Of the 118 colleges, universities and laboratories listed as affiliation of the primary presenter, only 13 institutions had more posters listed in the event than Hope College.

All of the participating Hope students are engineering majors -- three in the chemical engineering emphasis option, three in the biochemical engineering emphasis option, and one in the mechanical engineering emphasis option.  One has a second major in chemistry.  Mentors for the projects included Hope faculty in engineering, chemistry, and physics.

In addition to Prafke, the students attending the conference to present their posters were junior Sean Gitter of Shelby Township; junior Chan Hwang of Lansing; junior Nicholas Olen of Midland; junior Jacob Pledger of Lehigh Acres, Florida; junior Shannon Urbanik of Troy; and junior Eric Weeda of Grandville.  Senior Emma Donahoe of Milford, Indiana, also attended the conference, using travel funds awarded to her as a recipient of a 2016 SCI Scholars industrial internship sponsored by The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), AIChE, and the American Chemical Society.  (Information on the SCI Scholars program is available.)

Prafke won his award for the presentation “Response of Surface Bound Hexacyanoferrate Films to Binary & Tertiary Metal Alloy Compositions,” which he co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Hampton, associate professor of physics.

Gitter’s presentation, “Long Wavelength Azo Dye Monomers for Photomechanical Applications,” was co-authored with sophomore Brandon C. Derstine of Beaverton; Dr. Matthew L. Smith, assistant professor of engineering; and Dr. Jason G. Gillmore, professor of chemistry.  It appeared in the “Materials Engineering and Sciences 9” category.

Hwang’s presentation, “A New Approach to PVT Properties and Vapor Pressure Estimation from the SRK Equation of State,” was co-authored with Dr. Michael J. Misovich, associate professor of engineering.  It appeared in the “General Engineering and Engineering Education” category.

Olen’s presentation, “Development and Study of Printable Stimuli-Responsive Model Polymer Systems,” was also co-authored with Smith.  It appeared in the “Materials Engineering and Sciences 7” category.

Pledger’s presentation, “Crystalline Channeling of MeV Ion Beams,” was co-authored with Dr. Stephen Remillard, associate professor of physics; and Dr. Paul A. DeYoung, who is the Kenneth G. Herrick Professor of Physics.  It also appeared in the “Materials Engineering and Sciences 8” category.

Urbanik’s presentation, “Particle-Induced Gamma-ray Emission (PIGE) as a Novel Detection Method for PFAS in Personal Care Products,” was co-authored with senior Megan E. Czmer of West Bloomfield; sophomore Brieana K. Linton of Bristol, Indiana; senior John P. Harron of Okemos; Jane A. Sedlak, who is an Oberlin College student; Dr. Paul A. DeYoung, who is the Kenneth G. Herrick Professor of Physics; and Dr. Graham F. Peaslee, who is an adjunct professor of chemistry and geological/environmental science at Hope and a professor of experimental nuclear physics at the University of Notre Dame.  It appeared in the “Environmental Science and Engineering 3” category.

Weeda’s presentation, “Exchange Kinetics of Quinolinyl Ketones with Boronic Acids Via Rhodium Catalyzed C-C Bond Activation,” was co-authored with senior Stanna K. Dorn of Lewiston; and Dr. Jeffrey B. Johnson, associate professor of chemistry.  It appeared in the “Catalysis and Reaction Engineering 1” category.

Dobbs, who met with the Hope contingent during this year’s event, won second-place awards at the National Student Conference while a Hope student in 2010, 2011 and 2012 for research he conducted either with faculty at the college or at Argonne National Laboratory.  He was presenting this year on the basis of his graduate work at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was the lead author of “Characterizing the Electrochemically Enhanced Dissolution of Silica and Alumina in Alkaline Environments” and among the authors of “Electrostatic Origin of Enhanced Rate of Silica Surface Dissolution.”

The abstracts for the presentations are available by locating the author’s name using the page here.

AIChE is the world's leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, with more than 50,000 members from more than 100 countries.  

Information on the AIChE annual meeting and on the AIChE annual student conference is available.