Uzoma Monye joins ChBE’s teaching faculty 

This profile originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2021 issue of Mass Transfer, the magazine for alumni and friends of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Illinois. For a listing of all our faculty members, please visit our directory or explore the department’s research pages for overviews of our groundbreaking research programs.

Teaching assistant professor Uzoma Monye inspects the liquid-liquid extraction column that students use to investigate the removal of t-butyl alcohol from mineral oil.
Teaching assistant professor Uzoma Monye inspects the liquid-liquid extraction column that students use to investigate the removal of t-butyl alcohol from mineral oil.

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is excited to welcome Uzoma Monye.

In August 2020, Monye joined the department as a teaching assistant professor during an unprecedented time with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The University of Illinois has a reputation for producing solid graduates who impact various fields in engineering and technology,” Monye said. “The university also seems to value its members and its academic work for undergraduates. When I heard about the position, I knew that it would be a good fit for me to join this exceptional institution.”

Despite the times, she has already begun to make her mark on the undergraduate program. Right off, she adapted coursework to be delivered online and adopted best practices so students could return to the laboratory for hands-on, physically distanced educational experiences. She has also taught an additional section online to allow for those students not able to come to campus to still complete the Unit Operations Lab course using items from a kit sent to them wherever they were around the world.

“We are grateful for Monye, whose efforts ensured that we did not sacrifice the educational opportunities or safety of our students during this time,” said department head Paul Kenis, the Elio Eliakim Tarika Endowed Chair. “She is a shining example of an educator who puts her students first. We are lucky to have her here.”

Monye champions opportunities to improve engineering education. She believes in providing support and motivation to help retain undergraduate students. She is also an advocate for increasing STEM engagement to encourage students to choose—and succeed in—engineering careers.

She currently teaches the Unit Operations Laboratory, focusing on experiments and computation in fluid mechanics, heat transfer, mass transfer, and chemical reaction engineering. She is also the instructor of Introduction to the Engineering Profession and other courses.

“I enjoy working with the students,” Monye said. “They are bright and eager to learn.”

Along with fellow teaching faculty member Joachim Floess, Monye is instituting the department’s cross-curricular design to incorporate team-based design projects throughout the undergraduate coursework. Read more about how Phillips 66 is supporting this effort on page 12.

They are also leading a new campaign to revitalize the undergraduate laboratory facilities and capstone laboratory courses: Chemical Engineering Laboratory Fundamentals for juniors and Unit Operations in Chemical Engineering for seniors. Stay tuned for more information about this effort in the next newsletter.

“I have the freedom to contribute my ideas,” Monye said. “I like the level of support I receive from my colleagues and the departmental administration. I look forward to seeing how the program evolves.”

Monye graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.

She went on to earn her master’s degree and a doctorate in chemical and biomolecular engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied blood coagulation on matrix protein microarrays under venous and arterial flow.

Previously, Monye was an assistant professor at the American University of Nigeria and lectured at other Nigerian institutions before returning to the U.S. as a postdoctoral research associate at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where she was recruited to join Illinois.