2021 Graduate and Alumni Awards Ceremony

10/14/2021

Claire Benjamin

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. 

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 Graduate Research Symposium, beginning with the poster presentations: 

Paul Kenis, Azzaya Khasbaatar, Richa Ghosh, and Jarom Sederholm 
Paul Kenis, Azzaya Khasbaatar, Richa Ghosh, and Jarom Sederholm 

Third place: Azzaya Khasbaatar (Diao Group)

“Tuning the Molecular Assembly Pathway for Morphology Control in Organic Solar Cells”

Paul Kenis,<strong> </strong>Apurva Godbole, Richa Ghosh, and Jarom Sederholm&nbsp;
Paul Kenis, Apurva Godbole, Richa Ghosh, and Jarom Sederholm 

Second place: Apurva Godbole (Kraft Group)

“Raman Spectroscopy and Multivariate Analysis for Noninvasive Determination of Cell Phenotype in Hydrogel Cultures”

Paul Kenis, Chengyou Shi, Richa Ghosh, and Jarom Sederholm&nbsp;
Paul Kenis, Chengyou Shi, Richa Ghosh, and Jarom Sederholm 

First place: Chengyou Shi (Zhao Group)

“Accelerating the Discovery of Novel Ribosomally Synthesized and Post-transitionally Modified Peptides (RiPPs) through Pathway Refactoring and Robotic Automation”

Next they announced the winners of the event's oral presentations: 

Paul Kenis, Yu-Heng Deng, Jarom Sederholm, and Richa Ghosh
Paul Kenis, Yu-Heng Deng, Jarom Sederholm, and Richa Ghosh

Third place: Yu-Heng Deng (Kong Group) 

“Self-Locomotive, Antimicrobial Microtorpedo (SLAM) for Biofilm Removal through Swarm-Activating Cavitation"


Not pictured. 

Second place: Whitney Sinclair (Leckband and Kenis Groups)

“Lung-on-a-chip Platform that Enables in situ Imaging”

Paul Kenis, Dani Harrier, Jarom Sederholm, and Richa Ghosh
Paul Kenis, Dani Harrier, Jarom Sederholm, and Richa Ghosh

First place: Danielle Harrier (Guironnet and Kenis Groups)

“Biodegradable Latex: The Development of an Encapsulation Technique for the Ring-opening Polymerization of Cyclic Esters”

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.

Attendees recognize graduate students who have received fellowships over the past two years.&nbsp;
Attendees recognize graduate students who have received fellowships over the past two years. 
Graduate students Alec Tiffany, Dani Harrier, Howard Weatherspoon, Dejuante Walker, Vanesse DaSilva, and Chris Torres take part in the awards reception.&nbsp;
Graduate students Alec Tiffany, Dani Harrier, Howard Weatherspoon, Dejuante Walker, Vanesse DaSilva, and Chris Torres take part in the awards reception.