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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Congratulations to Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering graduate student Thao Ngo, who was selected to participate in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting this summer.

Ngo is a graduate student in Richard C. Alkire Professor Hong Yang’s research group. Her research focuses on studying the growth and dissolution of Pt-based nano catalysts using in situ electron microscopy and x-ray based techniques.

NgoThao 2015
Thao Ngo

Ngo is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow who received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Arizona State University in 2013. She joined the department in Fall 2013.

The 67th Lindau Meeting will focus on chemistry and take place in June 2017. Ngo is the only awardee from the University of Illinois to be invited to the scientific conference this year. She will represent the U.S. there.

The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings aim to foster exchange among scientists of different generations, cultures, and disciplines. Since they began in 1951, the meetings have become an international forum for scientific exchange, bringing together Nobel Laureates and the next generation of leading scientists, including post-doctoral researchers and graduate and undergraduate students from around the world.

For additional information on the Lindau Nobel laureate meeting, visit www.lindau-nobel.org/.

Six researchers from the University of Illinois, include Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Professor Hong Yang, have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Hong Yang, Richard C. Alkire Professor in Chemical Engineering
Hong Yang, Richard C. Alkire Professor in Chemical Engineering

AAAS is honoring 347 new fellows this year for their “scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.” Fellows are AAAS members selected by their peers for outstanding contributions to the field. The new fellows will be recognized at the annual AAAS meeting in February 2016.

The newly appointed AAAS fellows include: Hong Yang, the Richard C. Alkire Professor in Chemical Engineering in the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering; U. of I. President Timothy Killeen; William Metcalf, the G. William Arends Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology in the department of microbiology; William Mischo, the Berthold Family Professor of Information Access and Discovery and the head of the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center; Ralph Nuzzo, the G.L. Clark Professor of Chemistry and a professor of materials science and engineering; and statistics professor emeritus Stephen Portnoy.

Hong Yang earned his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1998 and joined the Illinois faculty in 2012. He was selected for the “discovery of a new synthesis platform for precisely controlled noble metal alloy nanostructures, with applications in electrocatalysis for fuel cells and batteries.”

Professor Yang was recently invested as the Richard C. Alkire Professor in Chemical Engineering.

Timothy Killeen, who took office in May as the university’s 20th president, earned his Ph.D. at University College London in 1975. Before coming to Illinois, he served as the vice chancellor for research and president of the Research Foundation of the State University of New York. AAAS recognized him for “distinguished contributions to optical interferometry, education and government administration, and leadership in professional service.”

William Metcalf earned his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1991. He was selected for “pioneering discoveries on the genetics and enzymology of methanogenesis by archaea and the mechanisms for aerobic methane formation in marine surface waters.”

William Mischo earned his M.A. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1974 and joined the U. of I. faculty in 1983. AAAS recognized him for “research relevant to the development of new digital library technologies.”

Ralph Nuzzo earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980 and worked at Bell Laboratories in materials research before joining the U. of I. faculty in 1991. AAAS acknowledged him for “distinguished contributions to materials chemistry, particularly for the development of self-assembled monolayers as systems for the design of functional molecular surfaces and interfaces.”

Stephen Portnoy earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1969 and joined the Illinois faculty in 1974. He was honored for “contributions to asymptotic theory and quantile processes and leadership in the development of robust regression methods.” He also was recognized for “building significant collaborations between statistical sciences and ecology.”

AAAS is the world’s largest scientific society. The organization was founded in 1848 and fellows have been elected annually since 1874.

By the University of Illinois News Bureau

As a young middle school student in Taiyuan, China, Hong Yang fell in love with chemical sciences when his teacher demonstrated the carbonization of sugar with sulfuric acid. As the black column of carbon foam emerged, he was hooked.

Dr. Jonathan Sweedler, Director, School of Chemical Sciences; Dr. Richard C. Alkire, Charles and Dorothy Prizer Chair Emeritus; Dr. Hong Yang, Richard C. Alkire Professor in Chemical Engineering; Dr. Paul Kenis, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department Head.
Dr. Jonathan Sweedler, Director, School of Chemical Sciences; Dr. Richard C. Alkire, Charles and Dorothy Prizer Chair Emeritus; Dr. Hong Yang, Richard C. Alkire Professor in Chemical Engineering; Dr. Paul Kenis, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department Head.

Today Professor Yang is recognized around the world for his work in the field of nanotechnology, particularly in the synthesis of nanomaterials of well-defined structure and composition. He is a leader in the synthesis of bi- and multi-metallic Pt-based nanostructures, which are being evaluated for a range of catalytic applications including fuel cells.

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, the University of Illinois celebrated the investiture of Dr. Hong Yang as the Richard C. Alkire Professor in Chemical Engineering. Investiture as a named chair or professor is one of the highest honors a faculty member can receive.

Dr. Yang’s accomplishments “help realize the land grant mission of the university, translating knowledge into action and impact on the world,” said Interim Provost Edward Feser.

Hong Yang thanked his family, wife Xinhong Liu; daughter, Chloe J. Yang; and son, Dan Z. Yang, for their support as well as his current and former students, colleagues and department leaders. Professor Yang also said he owed a great deal of his success to his grandmother, who lived with his family when he was a young boy.

“She passed on to me not only her confidence and love, but also her strong belief in the power of knowledge,” Yang said.

Professor Yang received his B.S. degree in Chemistry from Tsinghua University, and his Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from the University of Toronto. After a postdoc at Harvard University, he was on the faculty at the University of Rochester until 2011. In 2012, he joined the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Illinois.

“I am also very grateful to the anonymous donor whose generosity makes this professorship possible,” he said.

Given recent budget challenges on the state and federal level, such gifts have become especially critical to building a strong faculty at Illinois, Yang said.

Feng Sheng Hu, Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; Professor Richard C. Alkire, Charles and Dorothy Prizer Chair Emeritus; Hong Yang, Richard C. Alkire Professor in Chemical Engineering; and Interim Provost Edward Feser.
Feng Sheng Hu, Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; Professor Richard C. Alkire, Charles and Dorothy Prizer Chair Emeritus; Hong Yang, Richard C. Alkire Professor in Chemical Engineering; and Interim Provost Edward Feser.

The Richard C. Alkire Professorship was established in honor of Professor Alkire, who joined the department in 1969. Alkire, a member of the National Academy of Engineering since 1988, is the Charles and Dorothy Prizer Chair Emeritus.

“Spanning from scholarship to administration to music, you’re a great asset to our community,” Dr. Jonathan Sweedler, director of the School of Chemical Sciences, told Alkire.

In his remarks, Professor Alkire expressed gratitude for the support alumni have given the department throughout the years.

“The support they contribute today carries with it a DNA that goes back many decades, to a time when a great faculty member did something very important. Regardless of what they say in the movies, education is personal, not business,” he said.

The department’s activities today continue to be “at the edge,” Alkire said. “Research is focused on transforming a small gold-mine of scientific understanding at the atomic scale into a big gold-mine of well-engineered products that work. The educational challenge is to re-invent a curriculum that provides routine engineering methodologies for design and quality control at the molecular scale. This task will take a few decades, and is in its infancy. I can envision today’s students returning, 50 years hence, and citing words and experiences—perhaps ones that happen tomorrow morning—that inspired them to do what we think today is impossible.”

“The research of Professor Yang represents a superb example of this next-generation of engineering—the manipulation of atomic-scale distributions of elements on catalytic surfaces to optimize their catalytic activity and stability for reducing oxygen—one of the most important chemical reactions of them all,” Alkire said.

 

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