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.

    ChemE Third-year Writes Winning Abstract in Annual Graduate Student Contest

    March 29, 2019

    The winners of the 2019 Graduate Writing Lab Abstract Writing Contest have been announced. Congratulations to ChemE’s own Xueying Zhao for winning first place. Zhao is a third-year Ph.D. student and research assistant in Professor Roseanne Ford’s lab. The judging panel also gave ChemE fifth-year Yuanyuan Ji, an assistant in Assistant Professor Geoff Geise’s lab, an honorable mention.

    The second-place spot went to third-year electrical engineering Ph.D. student Vaibhav Verma, and Engineering Systems and Environment’s Wenjian Jia, a second-year civil engineering Ph.D. student, took third. Also receiving honorable mentions were Benjamin Bowes of the Engineering Systems and Environment Department, a third-year Ph.D. student studying civil engineering, and Qiyuan Lin and William Blades, both third-years in materials science and engineering.

    The writing lab’s contest organizers thank the 2019 judges: George Prpich, Rachel Letteri, Steven Allen, Geoff Geise, Amir Chamaani, Archie Holmes, Chloe Dedic and Ahmed Rasin.

    ChemE’s Rachel Letteri Receives Trigon Teaching Award

    February 01, 2019

    The Trigon Engineering Society has awarded Assistant Professor Rachel Letteri the 2019 Thomas E. Hutchinson Award for “Outreach to students, enthusiastic lectures, obvious love of teaching, and contributions to the Engineering School.” Prof. Letteri joined the Department of Chemical Engineering in August.


    Researchers’ Work Featured on Cover of Bioseparations Journal

    January 29, 2019

    Work by 2017 Ph.D. graduate Mimi Zhu and fourth-year candidate Preston Fuks was featured on the cover of a special issue of the Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology dedicated to Bioseparations. Additionally, the publication used a figure submitted by the researchers on the journal cover.

    The research, conducted in Professor Giorgio Carta’s Bioseparations Lab as a part of their doctoral dissertations, provides an understanding of protein adsorption of transport in novel chromatographic resins being developed for the purification of biopharmaceutical proteins. It is titled “Protein adsorption in anion exchange resins — effects of polymer grafting, support structure porosity and protein size.”

    “Using advanced microscopy tools, Mimi and Preston were able to visualize how proteins partition and diffuse into the chromatographic resins, providing an unparalleled understanding of the relationship between the architecture of the resins and their bioseparation process performance,” Carta said.

    Carta Lab alumni Promoted to Director of Manufacturing at AMGEN

    January 28, 2019

    Alumnus Ernie X. Pérez Almodóvar recently was promoted to director of manufacturing at Amgen in Juncos, Puerto Rico, where he has worked since earning his Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 2012. Pérez Almodóvar was a researcher in Lawrence R. Quarles Professor Giorgio Carta’s Bioseparations Lab while studying at UVA. In 2012, he earned the Louis T. Rader award.

    He joined Amgen’s downstream processes development team as a scientist, becoming a process development senior scientist and senior manager in 2016. In 2017, he was accepted into Amgen’s Operations Leaders Program and moved to the Formulation and Fill facility as a senior manager to complete his first rotation. During his time at the Formulation and Fill facility, and in collaboration with the rest of the senior management leaders, his teams supported multiple new product introductions, decreased disposition cycle time, and implemented improvement projects that led to increased production in 2018 to more than 50 million units.

    In his current role, Pérez Almodóvar’s manufacturing team is responsible for approximately 80 percent of the formulation and fill production for Amgen worldwide.

    In addition to his work at Amgen, Pérez Almodóvar has provided support to community-based organizations such as Casa Pueblo in Adjuntas, an environmental organization focusing on changing the energy landscape and conservation education in Puerto Rico.


    Choi Lab Publishes Article in Nature Communications

    January 15, 2019
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    Alex Chen, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate, is the lead author with Assistant Professor Josh Choi of “Origin of vertical orientation in two-dimensional metal halide perovskites and its effect on photovoltaic performance.” The article appeared in Nature Communications, a publication of the premier scientific journal Nature. Other students in Choi’s lab who contributed to the article are Michelle Shiu, Jennifer Ma, Matthew Alpert, Depei Zhang, Benjamin Foley, Detlef-M. Smilgies and Seung-Hun.


    ‘Case of the Disappearing Protein Peak’ Is a Winner

    January 15, 2019

    Congrats to 2018 Ph.D grad Arch Creasy, whose presentation took the ‘Best of BIOT’ prize at the spring National Meeting of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Biochemical Technology.