2023 Winter Convocation

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is planning an in-person convocation ceremony to celebrate your academic achievements. The departmental convocation recognizes ChBE graduates who earned bachelor's and master's degrees and includes a hooding ceremony for our doctoral graduates.  

Saturday, December 16, 2023
1:30 p.m. | Doors open at 12:30 p.m.

Lincoln Hall Theater, Lincoln Hall
Reception to follow (UIUC YMCA, 1001 S Wright St, Champaign)

Registration is required to participate in the ceremony. Registration guarantees you six guest tickets.
Deadline to register is November 17, 2023. Registration is now closed. 

The ceremony will be streamed live. 



Remarks will be given by the department head, a representative of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and an alumni keynote speaker Paul W. Jahn. Paul Jahn is the COO of Cadenza Innovation Inc., a lithium-ion battery technology and manufacturing company based in Danbury, CT.  He leads the team that is building a first of its kind 5 Gigawatt hour per year lithium-ion battery factory in the Northeastern U.S. This facility will bring Cadenza’s uniquely safe lithium-ion battery technology to the U.S. energy storage market and create close to 1000 new jobs.

Paul W. Jahn
Paul W. Jahn

From 2017 to 2022, Paul was the COO of Syrah Technologies, the U.S. subsidiary of Syrah Resources, an Australian mining company.  There he recruited and led the Louisiana based team that designed, constructed, and started-up the world’s first plant outside of China capable of converting natural flake graphite into active anode material for lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. 

Before joining Syrah, Paul was Senior Vice President and a partner at Middough Inc., a national engineering and construction management firm. There he was responsible for leading the company’s activities in the chemical, refining, midstream, and oil & gas industries. 

His career prior to joining Middough in 2007 was evenly divided between manufacturing, marketing, and business management roles at Air Products and strategic relationship management roles at Bechtel and Aker Kvaerner.

Paul earned a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering in 1981 from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an M.S. degree in Management Science in 1983 from the Sloan School of Management at MIT, where he was an Alexander Proudfoot Fellow. 

Paul and his wife Mickey reside in Houston.  They have three children and two grandchildren.  

The ceremony will be live-streamed for those who would like to participate virtually. A link to the live-stream will be added to this page as soon as it is available.


  • This event is for graduating ChBE students only, and is separate from any college and campus ceremonies. Students may choose to attend those ceremonies as well.
  • Academic attire is required for all graduates who participate in our convocation ceremony;  information about academic attire, including how to order, is available on the Commencement website.
  • Instructions to change how your name will appear on your diploma and transcript can be found on the Registrar’s websiteDiploma names dictate what is displayed on your diploma and are used in the convocation program, lists of graduates, etc. If you have any questions about your diploma, please call the Office of the Registrar at (217) 333-0210.
  • COVID-19: Current University guidelines do NOT require that face coverings be worn or proof of a negative COVID-19 test or a COVID-19 vaccination record be provided. Any updates to this guidance will be e-mailed to graduates and shared on the university's COVID-19 Event Guidance website

Contact with any questions about this event. If you are a person with a disability who requires accommodation(s), please contact us as soon as possible. Some accommodation requests (such as American Sign Language Interpreters) received after December 2 will be given due diligence to be filled but may not be guaranteed.

These plans are subject to change — check this page for updated event details going forward. 

Spring Ceremonies

James Grant (BS ’69) went on to earn his master’s degree in chemical engineering from Washington University, a second master’s in engineering management from the University of Missouri Rolla, and a third in chemistry from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He worked in pharmaceutical process development throughout his career and managed major environmental remediation and restoration projects. He oversaw hazardous material handling for the Transportation Security Administration in the Department of Homeland Security until 2019. Jim and his wife, Pam have also established a scholarship for chemical and biomolecular engineering students, as first generation students themselves. They created this scholarship in 2016, and have since awarded seven students the scholarship.


Speaker Announcement

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Kenneth Jaconetty (BS '82) is an Intellectual Property attorney and until recently was senior director and associate general counsel, IP legal lead for IP Transactions at Astellas Pharma U.S. Previously, he has served as assistant general counsel for IP at Takeda Pharmaceuticals and senior counsel at Baxter Healthcare Corporation, and in numerous other roles as a patent and intellectual property attorney. Jaconetty earned his JD at George Washington University Law School. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, he has established scholarships at both of his alma maters to combat institutional racism and create a more inclusive system.

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Alex J. Vogel graduated from the University of Illinois and went on to earn a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University in 1965. Shortly after, he joined the Dow Chemical Company and was named Global Director of Process Research & Development for Dow AgroSciences in 1989. After retiring from Dow in 1995, he has held numerous positions with consulting firms.

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Ronald E. Corn was the senior vice president of petrochemicals at Chevron Phillips Chemical. He was responsible for the olefins, natural gas liquids (NGL), and aromatics product lines, as well as the company’s joint ventures in Saudi Arabia. Previously, he served as senior vice president for specialties, aromatics, and styrenics; vice president of corporate planning and development; vice president of olefins and NGL and general manager, Asia, where he oversaw all company activities in the region. He most recently served as senior vice president of projects and supply chain. Over the last decade, he was instrumental in the conception, design, construction, and commissioning of a $6 billion ethylene cracker and a polyethylene plant now operational in Southeast Texas.

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Ray A. Mentzer went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from Purdue University. He enjoyed a 28-plus year career with ExxonMobil, working around the world with 14 assignments in a variety of areas, including oil and gas facility design and operation, research, financial management, safety, health & environment, and public affairs. His last position with the company was as Global Safety, Health, Environment and Security Manager. Upon his retirement from ExxonMobil, Dr. Mentzer joined the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University where he taught the senior-level chemical process safety and oil & gas processing courses for eight years. Mentzer is currently a visiting professor in chemical engineering at Purdue University, teaching the senior and graduate student level process safety course and he is Executive Director of the Purdue Process Safety & Assurance Center. 

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Corey T. Correnti (BS '85) is currently a senior advisor to Marakon, a global corporate strategy firm, providing energy sector expertise and strategic support. Previously, he held several senior leadership roles at BP. His most recent position was Senior Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Supply; he led the supply, sales, and marketing for BP’s US Downstream business. Corey started his career in refining engineering with Amoco and later worked in various refining operations management and commercial roles. He later led a global chemical feedstock business and US Supply & Trading operations at BP. His career has included postings in both the U.K. and U.S.

Deborah L. Correnti (BS '84)  is currently an Adjunct Lecturer of Economics at Benedictine University in Lisle. Previously, she worked in manufacturing and process design for Monsanto and Amoco Chemical companies. After leaving engineering, she worked in the marketing department for Amoco, managing daily operations of a petrochemical product line. She also has held positions in operations planning, economic analysis and strategic planning for a variety of product lines. Her specialty was microeconomic analysis and production optimization. She has taught micro and macroeconomics for 19 years in the U.S. and in London.

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Born in Kansas, Elmer E. Dougherty earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas in 1950. Following stints with Esso, Dow (where he wrote his first computer program in 1955), Union Carbide, and Chevron (as well as forming two software companies), Dougherty became a professor at the University of Southern California in 1971. In 1960 while at Chevron and Aramco, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, he headed an engineering-mathematical project that developed a reservoir simulation program and applied it successfully to Aramco’s Safaniya Field in the Arabian/Persian Gulf. It was the first such application of what is now a standard fundamental tool for oil field operations. In 1980 while at USC, he formed and headed a team of engineers, economists, and computer specialists to create a computer system for OPEC Secretariat that successfully modeled the cost of evolving and competing energy supplies and its impact on economic output in the world’s economic regions. Dr. Dougherty was on the faculty of the University of Southern California until his retirement in 1995. He continues his involvement in computer applications via Maraco, Inc., an oil and gas software development firm he established in 1979.

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An Illinois native, Kathryn "Kit" E. Gordon has 15 patents on amorphous silicon anti-fuse technology obtained during her work at QuickLogic Corp., where she served as Director of Technology until 1999. She earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1989 and an MBA in 2001, both from Santa Clara University. She retired from industry soon after QuickLogic went public on the NASDAQ and is now involved with several agencies and non-profits in water resource management. 

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May 2015: Thomas J. Tulig (BS '78)

Thomas J. Tulig spent his entire career working for the Royal Dutch Shell Group of Companies in research and development, project development, technical support, and operations. He began in the Reaction Engineering Department at Shell's Westhollow Technology Center in Houston. Prior to retirement in 2018, he served as the vice president for novel processes and new energies technology and as the general manager of process development in Shell's Projects and Technology organization. Tom has always prioritized university relations, serving as a recruiter and campus visitor for the Shell Oil Foundation and as a member of the University of Illinois Engineering Advisory Committee. He earned a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota.

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After graduating from the University of Illinois, Paul M. Adriani earned a master’s and doctorate from Stanford University. He is the Integration Technical Manager, Module R&D at SunPower Corporation. Adriani has more than 20 years of technical and senior management experience in both Fortune 500 and start-up companies. He has nine years of experience in developing new products that convert sunlight into electricity as a small part of the worldwide effort to scale up renewable energy, reduce carbon emissions, and reduce climate change. He enjoyed building an off-grid solar system to power a mountain cabin.

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Keith F. Reese held several management and technical positions at Intel including vice president of the Technology and Manufacturing Group, and general manager of Intel’s worldwide supply network, before retiring from the company. He was the department’s commencement speaker in 2013.

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A native of Joliet, Raymond M. Pasteris received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Illinois in 1975. After graduation he married Barbara and became a process engineer with Mobil in Joliet. At Mobil he became interested in applying cogeneration technologies to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of steam and power generation at the refinery. Mr. Pasteris later became a senior engineer with Mobil in Princeton, New Jersey where he worked to develop cogeneration projects for oil refining facilities worldwide. In 1986, he joined Catalyst Energy Corporation and was responsible for managing four power plants, including two biomass renewable energy plants and one hydroelectric power plant. He later served as Vice President of Engineering and Development for Catalyst Thermal Corporation. Mr. Pasteris was responsible for engineering, project development, contract negotiations, energy audits, capital budgets and risk management. In 1993, he established Pasteris Energy to provide advisory services to energy producers, consumers and regulators worldwide. He has been involved in the development of solar cells and other renewable energy projects.

Joseph P. Glas completed his Ph.D. with Prof. Westwater then joined DuPont, where he rose through the ranks to become director, vice president and general manager of DuPont’s Fluorochemicals Division. He later became vice president and general manager of DuPont Fluoroproducts, and in 1998, he was named vice president and general manager of DuPont’s Biotechnology Division. Glas is the author of Protecting the Ozone Layer: A Perspective from Industry, published in Technology and Environment (National Academy Press, 1989), and he also helped author a research study sponsored by the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine titled Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming: Mitigation, Adaptation, and the Science Base. 

Monty M. Alger is a professor of chemical engineering at the Pennsylvania State University where he is also the director of the Institute for Natural Gas Research. His more than 30 years of experience in the chemicals and energy industries includes positions such as vice president and chief technology officer at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., and as senior vice president of research at Myriant. He spent 23 years at General Electric (GE), where he led technology development at the Global Research Center of GE Plastics and was the general manager of technology for the Advanced Materials business. Prior to GE, he was director of the MIT Chemical Engineering Practice School Station at GE Plastics. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and serves on advisory boards for organizations including the Shenhua National Institute of Clean and Low Carbon Energy and PTTGC (Thailand). He earned BS and MS degrees from MIT and a PhD from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, all in chemical engineering. He served as president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers from January 2020 to December 2020.

There was not a commencement speaker in 2009.

There was not a commencement speaker in 2008.

Irene A. Strohbeen held many technical management positions at Kimberly-Clark, including research director of family care research and development and director of product and technology development of the company’s enterprise growth incubator. She is on the adjunct faculty of the Milwaukee School of Engineering and her firm, Irene Strohbeen and Associates, provides consultation in innovation, new business development, and new product management. Strohbeen was the department’s commencement speaker in 2007.

Wayne J. Howell joined IBM in East Fishkill where he rapidly ascended through the ranks in management and technical positions. He has held a number of engineering and management positions supporting development and manufacturing in semiconductor and microelectronic packaging technologies. He has also been a technical assistant to the IBM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Most recently he was the IBM Strategic Partnership Executive, responsible for the business and technical engagement between the Systems and Technology teams in the Systems and Technology Group. Presently, Howell is the vice president for design and engineering of the IBM Systems and Technology Group, responsible for the design and product engineering of Entertainment and Embedded Processors. He was named one of IBM’s top inventors in 1998, and currently holds more than 50 U.S. patents. Howell was the department’s commencement speaker in 2006.

After obtaining his Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Scott L. Rakestraw embarked on a step career path in the biotechnology industry. Rakestraw held business development, research and development, and marketing positions at DuPont, where he co-founded Qualicont LLC, a developer of rapid DNA diagnostics for the biochemical process industries and launched several other successful businesses. He also was responsible for directing the development and commercialization of two consecutive “R&D 100” award-winning genomics products. Subsequently, Rakestraw served as vice president of business development, general manager of the biomedical business unit and a member of the board of directors at Altus Biologics Inc. Next, he joined Orchid Cellmark (previously Orchid Biosciences) where he was executive director of Therapeutics Business Development. Rakestraw is managing director of The Branta Group, a Pennsylvania-based investment firm. 

William F. Banholzer is an American Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Formerly, he was a chemical engineer and Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at the Dow Chemical Company.

Peter Fox is a professor at Arizona State University. His research is focused on the development of sustainable water treatment technologies with an emphasis on water reuse, groundwater recharge, and natural systems. 

Upon graduation, Steven L. Miller joined Shell in Houston. Miller was named vice president of refining and marketing in 1988, and after a stint in London with the Royal Dutch/Shell Group management team, he was named director of strategy and business services for the oil products business in 1996. He later he became a managing director of Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. He returned to the U.S. in 1999 to become president and CEO of Shell Oil Company until his retirement in 2002. His many activities in the business and academic communities include serving as a member of the board of Applied Materials, director for the American Petroleum Institute, member of Rice University’s Board of Trustees, and president of the University of Illinois Foundation. Miller was the inaugural Samuel W. Parr Lecturer at the Noyes Lab Centennial celebration in 2002.

Upon graduation, Walter L. Robb joined General Electric where he steadily moved up through the company’s research organization. In 1986, Robb became the vice president for corporate research and development. Under his leadership, GE became the world’s leading producer of medical imaging equipment. For many years, Robb led GE’s Medical Systems business, which included major advances in computed tomography or CT scanning in the 1970s. In the 1980s, he led GE in the implementation of strong superconducting magnets in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), thereby vastly improving its performance. Robb was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Bill Clinton for his foresight which led to widespread acceptance of imaging technology in hospitals and medical practices across the country. He is presently president and owner of Vantage Management Inc., a firm located in Schenectady, NY, that provides business and technical consulting to growing companies. He was a recipient of the LAS alumni achievement award in 2001.Upon graduation, Walter L. Robb joined General Electric where he steadily moved up through the company’s research organization. In 1986, Robb became the vice president for corporate research and development. Under his leadership, GE became the world’s leading producer of medical imaging equipment. For many years, Robb led GE’s Medical Systems business, which included major advances in computed tomography or CT scanning in the 1970s. In the 1980s, he led GE in the implementation of strong superconducting magnets in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), thereby vastly improving its performance. Robb was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Bill Clinton for his foresight which led to widespread acceptance of imaging technology in hospitals and medical practices across the country. He is presently president and owner of Vantage Management Inc., a firm located in Schenectady, NY, that provides business and technical consulting to growing companies. He was a recipient of the LAS alumni achievement award in 2001.

Winter Ceremonies

Erika Hendricksen’s career at Dow spans 33 years, five businesses, three countries, and a wide variety of manufacturing and leadership roles. Erika has held assignments in the USA, New Zealand, and Canada. From 2012 to 2016, she held the position of Global Environmental Health and Safety Leader for Dow Coating Materials, supporting 35 DCM facilities around the world. In 2016, Erika was named Site Manufacturing Director of Dow Coating Material’s Kankakee, IL, facility.  She is now transitioning into the Process Safety Director role for Dow’s Advanced Polymer and Performance Monomers business.

In 2013, Erika was honored in Washington, DC, with the Women in Manufacturing’s national STEP Ahead Award (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production). From 2007 to 2016, she served on the board of directors for Three Rivers Educational Partnership. In 2017, Erika joined the Three Rivers Manufacturing Association board of directors, and now serves as the executive committee Chairwoman. In 2016, Erika was elected to the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois board of directors and currently serves as the executive board past-Chairwoman.

She holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois, and her passion for engineering is a shared family value for Erika. Erika’s husband, Todd Martin, graduated from the same  Chemical Engineering class, and they have spent their careers with Dow. Erika’s daughter is currently a junior at the university in Material Science Engineering. In January, her son begins work on his doctoral degree in Material Science Engineering at the same school. Erika returned to the campus as a Dow recruiter and now delights in giving back with mentoring and speaking opportunities.

Erika’s family enjoys traveling together. She’s an amateur radio operator with Novice and General Class licenses, and she’s in two different book clubs. Erika and her husband Todd hold season tickets to Illinois basketball.

Ceremony Recording

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Nuclear and industrial safety expert Joseph P. Drago (BS '72) went on to earn an M.S. in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois in 1974. He joined Oak Ridge National Laboratory to work on the design, build, and test of pilot plant scale equipment for recycling spent nuclear fuel. Later, he became the reactor engineer with the Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Company. Drago worked with other nuclear power utilities in the regulatory and corrective action management departments. His career included both nuclear and industrial safety oversight in his role as the safety compliance officer at Argonne National Laboratory. Drago completed his full-time career with the U.S. Department of Energy where he conducted nuclear safety oversight, accident investigations, and organizational assessments. He is a licensed professional engineer. In his ‘retirement,’ Drago is the Director of Culture and Change Management with the Marathon Consulting Group. 

Speaker Announcement

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Marchoe Dill Northern graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and began her career at Procter & Gamble as a process engineer in Green Bay, Wisconsin. There, Northern attended the University of Chicago MBA program, commuting to Chicago each weekend. She graduated with her MBA in 2004, concentrating in marketing and finance. She made a career transition within P&G to marketing and moved up the ranks to hold positions such as senior brand director for oral care where she led top brands like Crest, Oral B, and Fixodent. Currently, she serves as the senior vice president and global home care brand franchise leader at P&G in Geneva, Switzerland. She leads and sponsors several of the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Northern has supported our department’s own efforts and recently sponsored a scholarship. 

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Daniel J. Hanus began his career with Procter & Gamble, a company known for products such as Tide, Cascade, Crest, Vicks, and Gillette. He started in the Foods Division, and since then, he has held a number of roles with the company – in research and development, as a process engineer, as a products researcher, and a long-time package developer. Currently, he is Section Manager of U.S. Merchandising Solutions Organization in Product Supply Packaging at P&G. 

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Dale A. Kyser is currently vice president of research and nutrition sciences at Mondelēz International, a global snacks foods leader with iconic brands such as Oreo, Cadbury, Milka, Chips Ahoy!, Trident, belVita, and Ritz. He began his career at Kraft Foods in 1987 and has held a number of roles in the organization, from upstream research to product commercialization. During his career, Kyser has led the commercialization of a number of new technologies. He holds a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He is a past president of the Academy of Chemical Engineers at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

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Christopher Burcham is a senior engineering advisor at Eli Lilly and Company, in the small molecule design and development department within product research and development. He currently is the lead engineer responsible for the commercialization of a late-phase development project. He earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Princeton University in 1998.

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George P. Nassos is the former director of the M.S. in sustainability management program at DePaul University Driehaus College of Business, and was also an Executive-in-Residence. He is also engaged in numerous activities relating to sustainability and energy—providing corporate training, marketing an on-site waste-to-energy system, marketing a new software/hardware technology for more efficient solar energy, offering improved financial performance via sustainability, as well as consulting for numerous companies. 

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