As an alternative to using laboratory animals to study diseases, what if you could actually build realistic working models of bone, breast, liver, or artery tissues under attack by diseases? The operative word would be “control.” Not only could you perform reproducible experiments in a highly controlled environment, but you could also exercise very tight control over many of the physical and chemical properties of diseased tissues.
A new chemically treated wound dressing could address the mushrooming problem of diabetes-related amputations by introducing the first moist gauze bandage with the ability to ventilate ulcerations that often fester in diabetics, partly because these sores don’t get enough oxygen to heal properly. Surita Bhatia and Susan Roberts of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed the only moist dressing ever conceived that showers wounds with oxygen to promote healing and foster the formation of healthy new tissue.
Paul Dauenhauer of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has received a highly selective 3M Nontenured Faculty Award for $15,000 a year in unrestricted funds, renewable for up to three years. Dr. Dauenhauer will use the 3M funding to study the “Hybrid Production of Biorenewable Aromatic Chemicals.” “Hybrid production” means a combination of both biological and thermochemical steps in the catalytic process for producing chemicals and fuels from renewable biomass.
Marcel Vanpée, 94, died February 3rd, 2011, surrounded by his wife and daughters. Marcel Vanpée was Emeritus Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His scientific research and teaching led him from his native Belgium to Lovanium University in the former Belgian Congo and then to the United States, first in 1948 as a research fellow at the University of Minnesota and then in 1957 to pursue research in combustion science at the Bureau of Mines in Pittsburgh.
Paul J. Dauenhauer of the Chemical Engineering Department has been awarded a one-year, $80,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct basic research on the chemical process pyrolysis - breaking down woody biomass by heating it. Dr. Dauenhauer seeks to unlock the complex chemistry that takes place when wood is heated. He says heating woody biomass to high temperatures actually creates a brief liquid state before it turns to gas and this liquid state is of particular interest to scientists trying to produce the basic chemicals needed for biofuels.
The College of Engineering welcomes Dr. Shelly Peyton as a new faculty member to the Chemical Engineering Department. She comes to UMass Amherst after serving as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, beginning in 2007. Her research emphasis at MIT was “Mesenchymal Stem Cell Migration in 3-D Synthetic ECM Analogs.”
Research by George Huber and his research team from the Chemical Engineering Department, which has developed an economical process for producing chemical feedstocks from waste biomass, is attracting international attention from the chemical industry after the team’s article appeared in the November 26 issue of Science. His most high-profile coverage was in the January 6 issues of the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek.
Chemical engineering major Annuli Okoye has been awarded a very selective scholarship from the American Chemical Society’s Scholars Program for African American, Hispanic, and American Indian Chemical Science Students. Each year the ACS awards renewable scholarships to underrepresented minority students who want to enter the fields of chemistry or chemistry-related fields, such as environmental science, toxicology, and chemical technology. Awards of up to $5,000 are given to qualified students.
A research team from our Chemical Engineering Department reports in the November 26 issue of Science that it has developed a way to produce high-volume chemical feedstocks, including benzene, toluene, xylenes, and olefins, from pyrolytic bio-oils, the cheapest liquid fuels available today derived from biomass. As George Huber, the Armstrong Associate Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at UMass Amherst, explains, "Thanks to this breakthrough, we can meet the need to make commodity chemical feedstocks entirely through processing pyrolysis oils. We are making the same molecules from biomass that are currently being produced from petroleum, with no infrastructure changes required."
At the annual student conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in early November at Salt Lake City, chemical engineering major Chris Lowe was elected to serve as the Chair of the AIChE Executive Student Committee for the coming year. The committee is AIChE's national student executive board. “As Chair I'll work with the other committee members to represent the needs of student chapters around the country to the professional organization,” said Lowe about his new position.