ChemE Briefs

Welcome to ChemE Briefs, a place to find quick notes and posts from the faculty, students, staff and alumni of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Virginia.

    Sean Bannon Is Going to NAMS 2022 with Assist from Travel Award

    February 08, 2022

    Sean Bannon, a Ph.D. student in associate professor Geoff Geise’s polymer membrane lab, has been selected for an Elias Klein Founders’ Travel Supplement, which is given by the North American Membrane Society. The award will reimburse Bannon up to $500 for travel expenses to attend NAMS 2022, the society’s annual meeting, to present his research, “Salt transport in sulfonated polysulfone membranes exposed to high salinity.”

    The research will provide insight into how desalination membranes work and into how membranes could be further improved to facilitate water purification and address growing global demand for clean water.

    Congratulations, Sean!

    UVA Team Advances to Semifinal Round of $4 Million Clean-Energy Technology Competition

    January 06, 2022

    A research team led by members of the Department of Chemical Engineering faculty at the University of Virginia has advanced to the second phase of a three-phase, $4 million competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The DOE’s American-Made Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize is designed to speed development of technologies and techniques for direct extraction of lithium from geothermal brines found in California’s Salton Sea. Lithium – of which all but 1% of the U.S. supply is imported – is a critical material in batteries for electric vehicles and grid-scale electricity storage.

    Associate professors Geoffrey Geise and Gary Koenig and assistant professor Gaurav “Gino” Giri, with industry partner PowerTech Water, make up Team TELEPORT, named for the project’s title, Targeted Extraction of Lithium with Electroactive Particles for Recovery Technology. The team’s concept is one of 15 selected for a $40,000 award and eligibility for the competition’s second phase.

    Ph.D. Student Bev Miller Earned Women in Chemical Engineering Travel Award to Present at AIChE Annual Meeting

    November 17, 2021


    Bev Miller (left, with fellow ChemE Ph.D. student Ashley Conley), a chemical engineering Ph.D. student in assistant professor Steven Caliari’s biomaterials lab at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science, recently attended the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Meeting in Boston with support from a 2021 Women in Chemical Engineering Travel Award.

    The award included Miller’s registration for the meeting, an $800 stipend for travel expenses and complimentary membership in AIChE for the 2021 and 2022 calendar years. Earning the award allowed her to present during a poster session for postdoctoral candidates and give a talk on her research, “Guest-Host Supramolecular Assembly of Injectable Hydrogel Nanofibers for 3D Cell Encapsulation and Pelvic Organ Prolapse Repair,” during the conference.

    AZtecTimed is now AZtecFlex

    November 03, 2021

    Heads up if you use AZTtec software for your SEM/TEM analysis.

    AztecTimed is no longer free to download, and has been updated.



    AZtecTimed is now AZtecFlex and for students the licence is discounted, from ($1,399.00) to ($139.00). For more information on how to access this discount as a student, click here.


    AZtecFlex is a 12-month personal subscription licence for installation on your desktop or laptop, designed to let you use AZtec anywhere and without needing to access shared facilities. 

    AZtecFlex includes advanced data processing features, for example, particle analysis and EBSD data processing, allowing you to access them even if they aren’t enabled on the system used to acquire the data.  Your licence will also provide access to the latest AZtec release as soon as it is available.


    Tutorials and Demos can be found here.



    David Green Honored as Scholar-Athlete

    October 13, 2021

    UVA Engineering joins the West Potomac (Virginia) High School Wolverine nation to celebrate its outstanding student athletes, coaches and administrators. David L. Green, associate professor of materials science, chemical, and mechanical engineering is among the 2020 inductees in the West Potomac Athletic Hall of Fame.

    3D Reconstruction Software Now Available for Phenom SEM

    October 07, 2021
    3D Reconstruction Software Image.JPG

    3D Reconstruction Software is now available on the NMCF Phenom Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM).


    3D Reconstruction Software can generate three-dimensional images and provide submicrometer roughness measurements over areas and lines. Calculation of Rz, Rz, and Sa, as well as topographical surface scans and line scans can be acquired. Scans can be displayed as heat maps (image below) or as profiles. Data can be exported to be displayed in user software.


    Details can be found here:

    A brief User Guide is available on Sharepoint, and additional information can be found in the Phenom Manual.

    Note that NMCF has a temporary license (expiration: 1 November 2021), so get your measurements in now!


    Would this software would be a useful permanent addition to the SEM toolkit? Let NMCF know! (email:

    Surface Area Roughness Image.JPG



    Engineering Injectable Hydrogels for Neural Tissue Research

    August 25, 2021

    Assistant professor of chemical engineering Kyle Lampe, whose lab develops biomaterials for neural tissue engineering, is starting a project to design a new family of dynamic hydrogel materials that can automatically rebuild themselves after damage. The work is funded by a $548,673 grant from the National Science Foundation.

    Lampe’s goal is to design and computationally model a system for making injectable pentapeptides. The pentapeptides rapidly reconstitute into three-dimensional hydrogels compatible with the living-tissue environments into which they are delivered. The gels look, feel and act like human brain tissue because they are made from the same amino acid building blocks. Lampe calls this family of peptides RAPID, which stands for rapidly assembling pentapeptides for injectable delivery. RAPID gels are designed to flow like a liquid through a hypodermic needle but form a physically crosslinked, tissue-like gel immediately after injection.

    The ability to quickly and inexpensively produce peptides that “self-assemble” — without permanent crosslinking mechanisms — has the potential to dramatically improve the ease and efficacy of cell culture and study, Lampe said. The gels’ physical behavior, characteristics and suitability for growing cells can be controlled by the arrangement of the five amino acid building blocks.

    “What’s new about our peptides are their properties,” Lampe said. “The materials are shear-thinning, the characteristic that makes them injectable, and self-healing — and we can make them with stiffnesses that can approximate brain tissue all the way up to muscle stiffness if we want to.”

    Lampe aims to design hydrogels to promote neural stem cell delivery, growth and differentiation. Another key objective is to use computer modeling to study pentapeptide assembly at the molecular level to guide lab experimentation. The program will contribute to scientific understanding of the intra- and intermolecular interactions dictating peptide assembly and the formation of extracellular matrices, the supportive structures for many tissues and organs. This fundamental knowledge is essential to the discovery and application of therapies for diseases and injuries of the central nervous system.

    Lampe also will use part of the project’s funding to establish a paid research internship program for socioeconomically disadvantaged high school students in Charlottesville. He will partner with City of Promise, a nonprofit working with parents, schools and other community organizations to enable children to graduate from high school ready for college or a career. Additionally, Lampe will cross train Ph.D. and undergraduate students in biomaterials synthesis, molecular simulations, stem cell biology and neural tissue engineering.

    James Tang Named a Parrish Postdoc Fellow for 2021-2022

    August 20, 2021

    University of Virginia chemical engineering alumnus James Tang has been named one of the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science’s two 2021-2022 Philip A. Parrish Postdoctoral Fellows. Since completing his Ph.D. in 2019, Tang has worked as a postdoctoral researcher in associate professor of chemical engineering Bryan Berger’s lab.

    In Berger’s lab, Tang studies the genetic structures of “accessory proteins” in the SARS-CoV2 virus to understand how the proteins interact with the host’s immune system. These accessory proteins, so called because they play an indirect role in the virus’ function, may prevent or enhance the effect of other proteins that influence the host’s immune response to infection. Tang’s research is contributing to a growing body of knowledge that biomolecular researchers can use to develop immunotherapies for COVID-19.

    The second 2021-2022 Phil Parrish fellow is UVA alumnus Andrew Jones (Ph.D. in electrical engineering, 2020), who works with Joe Campbell, Lucian Carr III Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in Campbell's photonic devices group. The award was established in 2017 in memory of Parrish, a former interim vice president and associate vice president for research at UVA. Candidates must have a full-time appointment in UVA Engineering during the year covered by the fellowship and have produced significant and meaningful scholarship. Applicants are evaluated based on their publication and presentation record, honors and awards, and grants.

    Prior to joining the Berger lab, Tang was a Ph.D. student researcher in assistant professor of chemical engineering Kyle Lampe’s biomaterials lab.

    Faculty Excellence

    July 02, 2021


    Associate professor Geoff Geise, shown in his lab working with undergraduate chem-e major Anna Harris, is one of three faculty members recognized by UVA for research in 2020.

    UVA chemical engineering faculty excel in both teaching and research, and the department is rooted in a philosophy that the two go hand in hand. Below are examples of recent accolades, undergraduate student-oriented research and teaching projects, and recognition for work well done.