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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Department welcomes new faculty members Baron Peters and Xiao Su

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is pleased to announce it has hired two new faculty members. Professors Xiao Su and Baron Peters both joined the department in January.

Dr. Baron Peters, who joins the department as a full tenured professor, was most recently a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has contributed state-of-the-art computational methods, models, and theories in the areas of reaction rate theory, heterogeneous catalysis, and the kinetics of nucleation and growth. Dr. Peters also authored Reaction Rate Theory and Rare Events, the first comprehensive textbook on reaction rate theories and rare events methods. He is teaching Chemical Kinetics, Catalysis & Reaction Engineering this semester.

Professors Baron Peters and Xiao Su
Professor Baron Peters (left) and Assistant Professor Xiao Su (right) joined the department in January.

Peters received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2004. For his post-doctoral research, he worked with Bernhardt Trout at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and with Berend Smit at the Centre Européen de Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire. Peters was on the chemical engineering faculty at UCSB from 2007 to 2018.

Peters said he is looking forward to exploring new research directions inspired by his new colleagues at Illinois.

“I was attracted to Illinois because of its complementary experimental efforts within my research areas, by Illinois’ excellent academic reputation, by its strong tradition in kinetics and reaction rate theory, and by the extraordinary collegiality that I saw during campus visits,” he said.

Dr. Xiao Su joins the department as an assistant professor. He recently completed his postdoctoral research at MIT and earned his doctoral degree in chemical engineering from there.

Su, who is teaching Mass Transfer Operations this semester, is establishing a research program in developing advanced materials for molecularly-selective separations and process intensification. This emerging class of materials will find broad applications in chemical manufacturing and energy and environmental sectors.

“I’d like to bring a greater degree of molecular engineering and chemical design principles into separation processes. The field of separations has been traditionally quite conservative in terms of the methods used, mostly relying on thermal-based technologies,” Su said.

“With recent advances in materials science and electrochemistry, there’s a unique opportunity to bring more finesse to the field and develop greener and more sustainable separation technologies. We want to present the community with a new molecular design perspective for separation processes through leveraging stimuli-responsive materials,” he said.

Su said he was drawn to the University of Illinois because of its rich history and tradition of chemical engineering research, and its strength in areas related to his work, including electrochemistry, environmental engineering and materials science.

You can read more about Xiao Su in this faculty feature story. Peters will be highlighted in an upcoming issue of our department newsletter.

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