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Supporting tomorrow’s leaders

New award provides ChemE graduate students with new opportunities

Chemical engineers and Lehigh graduate students Daniel Gregory, Alex Tomkiewicz and Gül H. Zerze recently presented their research at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual Meeting, courtesy of a new award intended to support the field’s future innovators.

The Chevron Scholars Award recognizes Lehigh chemical engineering graduate students for their contributions and accomplishments in the lab and classroom. The award financially supports recipients’ five-year membership to AIChE, as well as financial support to attend and present at the 2015 AIChE Annual Meeting. Other benefits include a one-time cash prize of $1,500 to support educational needs and a special chemical engineering department seminar day for recipients of the Chevron Scholars Award, along with the undergraduate winners of the annual John Chen Prize, to present their research to students and faculty.

Chevron Corporation approached former Lehigh President Alice Gast a few years ago about establishing an annual award for chemical engineering graduate students. Lehigh and Chevron agreed to create an annual Chevron Scholars Award, modeled after the John Chen Award Prize, an award for undergraduate students, recognizing professional leadership in chemical engineering.

Gul’s research focused on molecular simulations of a special type of protein – intrinsically disorder proteins (IPDs). IPDs are special because a central dogma of biology states that regular proteins must fall into unique 3D structures in order to be functional. However, IPDs do not have a specific structure. Through molecular simulations, Gul analyzed IPD’s interactions with other IPDs and the IPD’s behavior in complicated environments. These simulations provided a level of detailed information that will be invaluable for further research.

“Conferences like AIChE are great opportunities to share research and experience face to face interaction,” she says. “To me, meeting with other scientists from around the world and sharing collectively is among the ultimate objectives of science. The benefits of your research can only be realized when you share it.”

Dan created a series of experiments to determine the underlying mechanism that occurs within the boundary of two materials. After noticing the unique chemistry and stabilization phenomena around these boundaries, he wanted to investigate the boundaries further. His experiments helped him to better understand the phenomena.

“I am grateful for the opportunities provided by the Chevron Scholars Award as it has provided me with the opportunity to travel across the country to present my research,” Dan says. “My travels have stimulated unique research opportunities, connected me to a broader research community, and has inspired me with future ideas for research on catalytic materials.”

AIChE has meetings, conferences, web courses and other services to support chemical engineering industry and education. Membership in AICHE enriches the recipients’ educational journey by providing the opportunity to gain invaluable resources and expertise in the chemical engineering field.

Faculty of the department of chemical engineering nominate and select recipients; a plaque with recipients’ names will be displayed in the corridor outside the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering office.

-Sarah Plombon '16 is a student-writer with the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

January 28, 2016

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