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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Professors Harley, Flaherty win Excellence in Research awards

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Professors David Flaherty and Brendan Harley have been named winners of the College of Engineering Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research. The award is given annually to a handful of engineering faculty in recognition of their research. Both will be honored at the college’s faculty awards ceremony on April 23.

Since they joined the department, Professors Harley and Flaherty have emerged as exceptional scientists and mentors, said Paul Kenis, William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor and Department Head.

“It’s rewarding to see faculty recognized for their dedication to advancing science and leading and training research groups that are doing truly pioneering work. I expect they will continue to push the boundaries of their fields—Harley in biomaterials and Flaherty in heterogeneous catalysis,” Kenis said.

Flaherty, an assistant professor in the department, said he is inspired by the accomplishments of his research group and “thrilled to see the efforts of my students recognized in this way.”

David W. Flaherty
David W. Flaherty

The Flaherty Research Group develops new principles needed to design catalytic materials and systems for the sustainable production of consumer products and fuels.

“This difficult work is only possible because of the many forms of support we receive from our department and from the campus. Interactions with exceptional colleagues and the use of outstanding facilities are a few of the ways in which Illinois cultivates excellent research. I am honored for our group to be acknowledged along with the many brilliant engineers at Illinois,” he said.

Flaherty, who joined the department in 2012, holds a BS from University of California, Berkeley and a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin.

Harley said it was a humbling to receive such an award.

Brendan A. Harley
Brendan A. Harley

“There are amazing faculty doing innovative, meaningful research across this campus. To be recognized in this manner is a tribute to the outstanding trainees in my group who everyday work to make science bigger, more rigorous, and more inclusive,” said Harley, associate professor and Robert W. Schaefer Faculty Scholar. “It is also a reflection of my colleagues, collaborators, as well as the facilities and support staff on this campus who make our work possible.”

The Harley Research Group explores “how we can design biomaterials that can be implanted into the body to facilitate regeneration. But we also are developing biomaterials to examine biological processes outside of the body such as disease development and treatment.”

“Our challenge is to develop materials that mimic the complex, heterogeneous environment within the tissues and organs of our body,” Harley said. “We are excited about the potential of our work, such as finding new ways to predict drug resistance and patient-to-patient variability in cancer as well as to implants to regenerate complex musculoskeletal injuries such as composite (hard and soft tissue) craniofacial defects experienced by warfighters after high-energy impacts.”

Harley joined the department in 2008. He holds an SB degree from Harvard University and an SM/ScD from MIT.