Professor Michael Henson of the Chemical Engineering Department has been selected as a 2018 Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). “It is with great pleasure and honor I welcome you to the select group of members of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers,” wrote Syamal Poddar, Ph.D., P.E, FAIChE, and the chair of the AIChE Fellows Council. “You have recently been recognized to this upgraded and privileged status of the membership based on your accomplishments in your profession and your dedicated contributions to the institute as a volunteer.”
Though Henson was unable to attend because of previous commitments, the 2018 AIChE Fellows were recognized during a ceremony on October 30.
According to the AIChE website, the designation of Fellow is AIChE's highest grade of membership and is achieved only through election by the AIChE BOD, generally upon recommendation of the AIChE Admissions Committee. “A nominee for election as Fellow shall have been in chemical engineering practice for an adequate period of time to demonstrate long-term excellence, normally 25 years, shall have been an AIChE member for at least 10 years (exclusive of student membership), and shall be in the grade of Senior Member at the time of election.”
Henson, the co-director for the Institute for Massachusetts Biofuels Research, studies microbial communities and biofilms. As he explained, “Microbial biofilms are critically important in medical, environmental, and engineered biological systems. While foundational to the vast majority of microbial life on the planet, the basic design principles of microbial biofilms are still poorly understood. We are developing metabolic models of single species and multispecies biofilms that predict temporal and spatial variations with genome-scale resolution.”
Henson went on the explain that the biofilm models are formulated by combining genome-scale reconstructions of species metabolism with transport equations that capture the relevant diffusional and convective processes within the biofilm.
“Our current models capture cellular growth and death, biofilm expansion and contraction, competition for nutrients, cross-feeding of metabolic byproducts, chemotaxis of motile species, secretion of small molecule inhibitors, and antibiotic treatment,” said Henson. “Simulations are performed to analyze the understand biofilm design principles and to develop improved antibiotic treatment strategies for biofilm eradication. This research is supported by NIH, NSF, and ARO.”
Among Henson’s many awards and accomplishments, he has earned a Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation in 1995, a Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 2001, and a College of Engineering Outstanding Senior Faculty Award in 2008. Henson has served as the founding editor-in-chief of Processes, an associate editor of IET Systems Biology, an associate editor of IEEE Life Science Letters, an editorial board member of PeerJ, and the executive director of the CACHE Corporation. (November 2018)