Engineering Faculty Recognized by AIChE with Prestigious Teaching and Research Awards

Five engineering faculty members and a professor emeritus at The University of Texas at Austin were recognized with prestigious awards during the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) annual meeting this week in Minneapolis, Minn.

The faculty members from the Cockrell School of Engineering's Department of Chemical Engineering were honored for their educational and research achievements in the field of chemical engineering.

"Chemical engineering at The University of Texas at Austin is incredibly strong today thanks to the extraordinary talent and dedication of our faculty, especially these six exceptional researchers and educators," said Cockrell School of Engineering Dean Gregory L. Fenves. "Their research has led to enhanced drug delivery, better methods for producing clean energy and new materials for smaller and more energy-efficient computer chips. As educators, they have prepared generations of UT students for leadership and innovation. I'm proud that their accomplishments are being recognized by the world's leading organization for chemical engineering professionals."

The awards given during the Oct. 16-21 conference are among AIChE's most prestigious and recognize eminent chemical engineers for career accomplishments, service to society and the institute.

"Chemical engineers are innovators helping to solve problems across the globe," said Maria Burka, president of AIChE. "The awards ceremony is a great opportunity to recognize the leaders in our field."

Recipients from The University of Texas at Austin:

Roger T. Bonnecaze, professor and Chemical Engineering Department chair, received the 2011 AIChE Thomas Baron Award, which recognizes an individual whose outstanding scientific/technical accomplishments have made a significant impact in the field of fluid-particle systems. Bonnecaze has made seminal contributions in a number of chemical engineering research areas, including the rheology and characterization of concentrated suspensions and the applications of nanotechnology in semiconductors and biotechnology.

Benny Freeman, the Kenneth A. Kobe and Paul D. and Betty Robertson Meek and American Petrofina Foundation Centennial Professor of Chemical Engineering, was elected as a Fellow of AIChE, an honor that recognizes distinguished professional chemical engineers who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments and made important contributions to their field. Freeman has led groundbreaking research on water purification and gas and liquid separations using polymer and polymer-based membranes.

David Allen, the Melvin H. Gertz Regents Chair in Chemical Engineering, was awarded the 2011 AIChE Warren K. Lewis Award. The award recognizes inspirational teachers with lasting educational influence who have impacted chemical engineering students as a result of creative ability and leadership. Allen created a widely used series of practical educational modules on pollution prevention for chemical engineering curriculum, and published the first textbook on the subject. He was selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to lead development of the agency's first green engineering textwhich is used in chemical engineering departments around the world. Allen also helps lead UTeachEngineering, a five-year, $12.5 million effort supported by the National Science Foundation to train more than 600 teachers to deliver high school engineering courses across Texas. The award is sponsored by Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering Co.

Brian Korgel, the Matthew Van Winkle Regents Professor of Chemical Engineering, received AIChE's Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum Award. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the advancement of nanoscale science and engineering in the field of chemical engineering through scholarship, education or service. Korgel was awarded for his pioneering contributions to the art of nanocrystal and nanowire synthesis, elucidation of fundamental aspects of self-assembly and development of new technologies based on nanomaterials.

Lealon Martin, a research fellow and lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering and juris doctoral candidate in the School of Law at The University of Texas at Austin, was awarded the 2011 Minority Affairs Committee (MAC) Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes an AIChE member for sustained service and outstanding achievements that advance the goals of MAC, including reducing the underrepresentation of minorities in AIChE, the chemical engineering profession and engineering as a whole.

John J. McKetta Jr., professor emeritus in the Department of Chemical Engineering and former dean of the Cockrell School, was recognized at a volunteer reception to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his term as AIChE president (1962), his status as an AIChE Fellow, previous service as a foundation trustee and for numerous contributions to AIChE and the chemical engineering profession. McKetta was also recognized as the oldest living AIChE president, an honor made on his 96th birthday.