Chair's message

Spring 2023

Dear Alumni, Colleagues, and Friends:

I am excited to welcome again everyone to our department’s newsletter and share recent developments.

Last fall, a new minor was established in Materials Engineering after discussions with our students and faculty made apparent its need. Associate Professor Ayse Asatekin graciously agreed to take on the challenging task of drafting the scope of the minor, compiling relevant courses, and seeing the project through the approval process. The minor in Materials Engineering got the green light from the School of Engineering (SOE) and it will be available to Arts and Sciences and Engineering students in the new academic year. 

The department also accelerated efforts in several fronts including integration of computing in the ChBE curriculum, and incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) more deeply into our educational and research activities. A working group is assessing the current state of computing in our courses, aiming to make recommendations to enhance curricular cohesion and cultivate student skills to tackle big data in their future careers. A DEI committee was formed and charged with addressing issues relevant to DEI in undergraduate and graduate student experiences, as well as contextualizing research and curricular undertakings, all aligned with the SOE’s DEI initiatives. We are looking forward to sharing more news on these activities through our website and a future newsletter.   

As a way of recognizing and supporting our outstanding students in the PhD program, the ChBE Professional Promise Award was established last summer. Funds are provided for participation in activities which contribute to the professional development of graduate students, such as professional networking events, workshops on leadership, and research on data analysis. This year’s winner is Sean Sullivan (working with Associate Professor Nikhil Nair). I would also like to take this opportunity to express the department’s appreciation to alum Dr. Brett Boghigian, E07, EG10, who supported the award through a generous donation. We invite you to read more about this award and other graduate student highlights in this newsletter.

This was also a year of distinction for ChBE faculty.  Associate Professor Ayse Asatekin was named a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors. Professor Christos Georgakis was presented with the 2022 Distinguished Service Award by the Computing and Systems Technology (CAST) division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Karol Family Professor Kyongbum Lee was named permanent Dean of the School of Engineering. Professor of Practice Derek Mess received the Seymour Simches Award for Distinguished Teaching and Advising. Professor Matthew Panzer was the recipient of both the SOE Henry and Madeline Fischer Award and the ChBE Department’s Favorite Professor award.

In December, Professor Christos Georgakis retired and became Professor Emeritus after a distinguished professional career spanning more than five decades. He joined the department as Chair in 2004 from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (formerly Polytechnic University) after having served as a faculty at Lehigh University, the University of Thessaloniki, and MIT. Professor Georgakis’s research encompasses the areas of process modeling, monitoring, control, and optimization, chemical reaction engineering, and, recently, data-driven modeling.  During his career, he supervised over 35 doctoral and several MS students. Bright undergraduate students did their diploma or honors thesis with him. He has published over 200 refereed research and review articles. Over the last ten years, he initiated a new conference series (FIPSE) focusing on defining the most important unsolved research challenges in process systems engineering (PSE). A day-long event celebrating his retirement is planned for June. We are grateful to Professor Georgakis for his many contributions to the Department and the field and wish him the best as he starts a new chapter in his life.

As always, we are grateful to our alumni and friends for your continuous support and welcome your ideas and participation in shaping the department’s future.

Kind regards,

Emmanuel Tzanakakis
Professor and Chair