Alumni Awards

Help us honor our outstanding alumni

Alumni Award nominations are accepted on a rolling basis with a final deadline of July 1 to submit for full consideration. Self-nominations are encouraged and all nominations are kept for future consideration. Your nominations ensure the success of our Alumni Awards program, which recognizes our exceptional alumni at an awards ceremony held on October 14, 2022.  

Nomination Form

Distinguished Achievement Award

This award recognizes professional distinction through outstanding leadership, contributions to the field, creativity, and entrepreneurship as well as service to society, the professional community, and the department, college, or university.

Young Achievement Award

Honors graduates from the previous 15 years for professional distinction through outstanding leadership, contributions to the field, creativity, and entrepreneurship as well as service to society, the professional community, and the department, college, or university.


Graduate and Alumni Awards Ceremony

Read more about our annual Graduate and Alumni Awards Ceremony where alumni awardees are recognized each fall.

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Alumni Awardees were recognized at the 2022 Graduate and Alumni Awards Ceremony on Oct. 14, 2022. From left: Charles Damianides, Kamalesh Sirkar, Kathryn "Kit" Gordon, Meagan Lewis, Ashlee Ford Versypt, Jerrod Henderson, and department head Paul Kenis. 
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Alumni Awardees were recognized at the 2022 Graduate and Alumni Awards Ceremony on Oct. 14, 2022. From left: Charles Damianides, Kamalesh Sirkar, Kathryn "Kit" Gordon, Meagan Lewis, Ashlee Ford Versypt, Jerrod Henderson, and department head Paul Kenis. 

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering held its annual Graduate and Alumni Awards Ceremony on Oct. 14, 2022, to recognize the department's Alumni Awards recipients, graduate student fellows, and the Graduate Research Symposium winners. Since the inception of the Alumni Awards program in 2019, the department has recognized 36 Alumni Award winners. 

The event began with a warm welcome from department head Paul Kenis, the Elio Eliakim Tarika Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering, and Venetria K. Patton, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, who recognized the department's legacy of impactful research and teaching. 

"This is an especially special ceremony for me as I prepare to step down from the role of department head, a title that I have held for over a decade now," Kenis said. "One of the most rewarding aspects of serving as the head during this time has been getting to know our accomplished and distinguished alumni, who inspired us to launch the Alumni Awards program in 2019."

Eight Alumni Award winners were recognized at this year's event:

2022 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

  • Charles Damianides (MS ’85, PhD ’87), Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Bob Dudley (BS ’78), former Group Chief Executive Officer, bp
  • Chung Sul Youn “Sue” Kim (BS ’55), an innovator at Standard Oil of Ohio, Georgia Pacific, and Aerojet Corporation; and professor, California State University, Sacramento
  • Kamalesh K. Sirkar (MS ’66, PhD ’69), Distinguished Professor and Foundation Professor in Membrane Separations, New Jersey Institute of Technology

2022 Young Alumni Achievement Award

  • Ashlee N. Ford Versypt (MS ’09, PhD ’12), Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
  • Meagan E. Lewis (BS ’08), Regional General Manager, Honeywell Building Solutions

2021 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

  • Kathryn E. Gordon (BS ’83), Grassroots Ecology, Board Member

2019 Young Alumni Achievement Award

  • Jerrod A. Henderson (MS ’07, PhD ’10)Assistant Professor, William A. Brookshire Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering,
    University of Houston

Next, the Director of Graduate Studies and professor Mary Kraft recognized the fellowships awarded to the department's graduate students. 

"Each year, our graduate students are recognized for their achievements with a variety of fellowships from the department, campus, as well as national foundations and corporate partners," Kraft said. "These fellowships honor their scientific pursuits and academic accomplishments. We are very proud of our fellowship recipients and what these awards represent." 

The ceremony concluded with two representatives from the Graduate Student Advisory Council, Sonji Lamichhane and Suchi Vijayaraghavan, who recognized the 2022 Graduate Research Symposium judges, participants, and winners. 

Original Announcement  Ceremony Recording  Event Photos

Alumni Award winners (L to R): Jacob Becraft, Fei Wen, Daniel Crowl, Robert Sankman, Joseph Glas, and Laura Banovic Flessner.
Alumni Award winners (L to R): Jacob Becraft, Fei Wen, Daniel Crowl, Robert Sankman, Joseph Glas, and Laura Banovic Flessner.

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering held its second annual Graduate and Alumni Awards Ceremony on October 8, 2021, to recognize our Alumni Awards honorees, graduate student fellows, and the Graduate Research Symposium winners. 

The event began with a warm welcome from department head Paul Kenis, the Elio Eliakim Tarika Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering, and Matthew Ando, the associate dean of the sciences in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. 

To start, Kenis recognized the 2021 recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award who were not able to attend the ceremony: 

  • Monty Alger (PhD ’82), a professor at Pennsylvania State who served as president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2020
  • H. Scott Fogler* (BS ’62), who served on the faculty at the University of Michigan for over 50 years [*deceased]
  • Kit Gordon (BS ’83), known both for her semiconductor work at QuickLogic and advocacy on behalf of numerous environmental organizations
  • Steve McLin (BS ’68), retired from his career as an executive in the banking industry where he was a top strategist for Bank of America
  • Marchoe Dill Northern (BS ’97), who has risen to become the senior vice president and global home care brand franchise leader for Procter & Gamble
Paul Kenis, Fei Wen, and Huimin Zhao
Paul Kenis, Fei Wen, and Huimin Zhao

Kenis welcomed Professor Huimin Zhao, the Steven L. Miller Chair in Chemical Engineering, to recognize his former graduate student Fei Wen (MS ’06, PhD ’10), an associate professor at the University of Michigan, for her strong passion for research and education that has propelled her career in academia. Today, Wen is advancing our understanding, monitoring, and modulating of T cell function, which is crucial to our ability to address cancer, allergies, infectious diseases, etc. Wen received an inaugural Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2019. 

Paul Kenis, Joseph Glas, and Huimin Zhao
Paul Kenis, Joseph Glas, and Huimin Zhao

Zhao also recognized Joseph Glas (MS ’62, PhD ’65), who received the 2020 Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Illinois Alumni Association and the department's 2021 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. Zhao commended Glas for his efforts to replace chlorofluorocarbons (used in refrigeration) with safe alternatives as a vice president and general manager at DuPont. He was recognized both for his dedication to the environment and to the department as the benefactor of an endowed scholarship, speaker at our 2011 convocation, and former member of our resource development committee and external advisory committee.

Paul Kenis, Jacob Becraft, and Christopher Rao
Paul Kenis, Jacob Becraft, and Christopher Rao

Professor Christopher Rao, the Morris Professorial Scholar, presented a 2021 Young Alumni Achievement Award to Jacob Becraft (BS ’13) for launching a startup company called Strand Therapeutics that is figuring out how to use mRNA gene therapies to treat tumors. Becraft was also named one of MIT Technology Reviews’ 35 under 35 for his entrepreneurship. 

Laura Flessner stands with Paul Kenis and Chris Rao holding 2021 Alumni Award.
From left: Paul Kenis, Laura Banovic Flessner, and Christopher Rao at the 2021 Alumni Awards ceremony. 

Rao also presented a 2021 Young Alumni Achievement Award to Laura Banovic Flessner (BS ’05) who founded Mindtap to provide advising, coaching, and workshops that bring together neuroscience and agile principles to fuel innovation. The honor also recognizes her efforts to help Asian leaders break past the bamboo ceiling by launching the Pfizer Asian Leadership Forum. 

Daniel Crowl and Paul Kenis
Daniel Crowl and Paul Kenis

Kenis presented the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award to Daniel Crowl (MS ’73, PhD ’75), the former Herbert H. Dow Professor for Chemical Process Safety at Michigan Technical University, for his contributions to chemical process safety, including a landmark textbook on the topic now in its 4th edition.

Paul Kenis and Robert Sankman
Paul Kenis and Robert Sankman

Kenis also recognized Robert Sankman (BS ’80) as a recipient of a 2019 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award for his profound contributions to semiconductor and electronic packaging technologies over his 40-year career at Intel. 

Attendees recognize graduate students who have received fellowships over the past two years. 
Attendees recognize graduate students who have received fellowships over the past two years. 

Professors Mary Kraft and Hong Yang recognized the fellowships awarded to the department's graduate students over the past two years. The students were invited to stand to be recognized. 

The ceremony concluded with two representatives from the Graduate Student Advisory Council, Richa Ghosh and Jarom Sederholm, presenting the winners of the 2021 Graduate Research Symposium, beginning with the poster presentations. Next, they announced the winners of the event's oral presentations.

 
Graduate students Alec Tiffany, Dani Harrier, Howard Weatherspoon, Dejuante Walker, Vanesse DaSilva, and Chris Torres take part in the awards reception. 
Graduate students Alec Tiffany, Dani Harrier, Howard Weatherspoon, Dejuante Walker, Vanesse DaSilva, and Chris Torres take part in the awards reception. 

Before inviting everyone to enjoy refreshments, Kenis said: "Alumni and students, you fill us with such pride. We know that you will continue the legacy of our department with your remarkable technical accomplishments, leadership, and service."

Thank you to everyone who attended this event to help us recognize our outstanding students and alumni.

Original Announcement

**Canceled due to the pandemic.

From left, front row: David Boger, Joan Brennecke, Ajay Virkar, Steve Miller, and Paul Kenis at the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Fall Awards Ceremony. Photos by Della Perrone for the University of Illinois.
From left, front row: David Boger, Joan Brennecke, Ajay Virkar, Steve Miller, and Paul Kenis at the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Fall Awards Ceremony. Photos by Della Perrone for the University of Illinois.

On Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering held its inaugural fall awards program. The department celebrated alumni awards winners and graduate students who received fellowships for 2019-2020.

The new alumni awards program recognizes graduates who have distinguished themselves through their outstanding professional achievements, their dedication and advocacy for the department, or their service or contributions to society. Honors include the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award and the Young Alumni Achievement Award.

2019 Award Winners

  • Distinguished Alumni Award: John Anderson, MS ’69, PhD ’79 (Quinn)
  • Distinguished Alumni Award: Joan Brennecke, MS ’87, PHD ’89 (Eckert)
  • Distinguished Alumni Award: Jack McWhirter, BS ’59, Illinois; MS ’61, PhD ’62, Penn State
  • Distinguished Alumni Award: Robert Sankman, BS ’80
  • Young Alumni Achievement Award: Fei Wen, MS ’06, PhD ’10 (Zhao)
  • Young Alumni Achievement Award: Ajay Virkar, BS ’05, Illinois; PhD ’10, Stanford

The following individuals were also recognized with Distinguished Alumni Awards. They have received honors in previous years from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Illinois Alumni Association, Grainger College of Engineering, or University of Illinois Foundation:

  • Hariklia ‘Lili’ Deligianni (College of LAS Alumni Achievement Award, 2019)
  • Jerrod Henderson (College of LAS Outstanding Young Alumni Award, 2019)
  • William Banholzer
  • R. Byron Bird
  • David Boger
  • John Georges
  • Dennis Houston
  • Steven Miller
  • Charles Prizer
  • Walter Robb
  • Darsh Wasan

Congratulations to all!

Original Announcement

 

Alumni Award Winners

Learn more about our department's Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award and Young Alumni Achievement Award winners below.

2022 Distinguished Alumni Award
Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals, U.S. Department of Energy
MS '85, PhD '87
2022 Distinguished Alumni Award
Group Chief Executive Officer, bp
BS '78
2022 Distinguished Alumni Award
Innovator at Standard Oil of Ohio, Georgia Pacific, and Aerojet Corp.; Professor, California State University, Sacramento
BS '55
2022 Young Alumni Award
Regional General Manager, Honeywell Building Solutions
BS '08
2022 Distinguished Alumni Award
Distinguished Professor and Foundation Professor in Membrane Separations, New Jersey Institute of Technology
MS '66, PhD '69
2022 Young Alumni Award
Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
MS '09, PhD '12
2021 Distinguished Alumni Award
Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University; 2020 President of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers
PhD '82
2021 Young Alumni Award
Co-founder and CEO, Strand Therapeutics
BS '13
2021 Distinguished Alumni Award
Herbert H. Dow Professor for Chemical Process Safety, Michigan Technological University
MS '73, PhD '75
2021 Young Alumni Award
Co-Founder and CEO, Mindtap
BS '05
2021 Distinguished Alumni Award
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Vennema Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan
BS '62
2021 Distinguished Alumni Award
Research Engineer, DuPont
MS '62, PhD '65
2021 Distinguished Alumni Award
Environmentalist and Semiconductor Inventor
BS '83
2021 Distinguished Alumni Award
Executive, Bank of America
BS '68
2021 Distinguished Alumni Award
Senior Vice President and Global Home Care Brand Franchise Leader, Procter & Gamble
BS '97
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
President, National Academy of Engineering; President Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology
MS '69, PhD '79
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Professor, University of Washington
PhD '51
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Dow Chemical
MS '81, PhD '83
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Founder, Beckman Instruments
BS '22, MS '23
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison
BS '47
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Professor of Engineering, Monash University; Laureate Professor and Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Melbourne
MS '64, PhD '66
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Professor, Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering; University of Texas-Austin
MS '87, PhD '99
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Research Scientist, T.J. Watson Research Center, IBM
MS '86, PhD '88
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
CEO and Chairman, International Paper Co.
BS '51
2019 Young Alumni Award
Assistant Professor, William A. Brookshire Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Houston
MS '07, PhD '10
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Executive Vice President, Refining and Supply Company and Chairman and President of ExxonMobil Sales and Supply
BS '74
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Vice President, Union Carbide; Entrepreneur
BS '59
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Managing Director of Royal Dutch Shell and Chairman/CEO, Shell Oil Company
BS '67
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Vice President, Rohm & Haas Chemicals
BS '44
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Vice President for Corporate Research and Development, General Electric
MS '49, PhD '51
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Intel Fellow, Intel Corporation
BS '80
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
CEO, National Can Corporation
BS '43
2019 Young Alumni Award
Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, C3Nano
BS '05
2019 Young Alumni Award
Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan
MS '06, PhD '10
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Attorney
BS '41