Illinois I-mark

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Undergraduate Research Symposium

At the University of Illinois Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, undergraduate students actively work alongside our world-class faculty on a variety of research projects. Every year in April, students have the opportunity to present their work as part of the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

The 2019 symposium

The 2019 symposium was on Friday, April 12 in the atrium of Chemical Life Sciences Laboratory A and the lobby or Roger Adams Laboratory. The awards ceremony was at 4:30 p.m. in CLSL B-102.

The annual event is organized by Omega Chi Epsilon, the national honor society for chemical engineering. It is an opportunity for students to showcase their research and network with alumni from industry who serve as judges.

Department Head Dr. Paul Kenis with OXE President Pierce Blazina, Noah Hopkins, Ty’Nya Larry, Kevin Wade and Faisal Aldukhi.

First place was awarded to Faisal Aldukhi from the Shukla Group with his presentation, “Elucidating Binding Pathway of Brassinolide and Castasterone to BRI1.”

Two students tied for second place: Ty’Nya Larry from the Kenis Group with, “Lung-on-a chip Enables Dynamic Imaging of Pulmonary Lung Tissue in Resonse to Aerisiolized Nanoparticles” and Kevin Wade of the Gewirth Group with, “The Effect of Organosilane Cathode Coatings on Lithium-Ion Battery Performance.”

Third place went to Noah Hopkins of the Schroeder Group who presented, “Non-Equilibrium Dynamics of Vesicles Using a Stokes Trap and Precision Microfluidics.”

The 2019 judges included Dr. George McConaghy (BS ’67, PhD ’74), retired from Amoco and BP; Ed Dvorsky (BS ’85) leader of an engineering group at Koppers Inc.; Ron Corn (BS ’79), senior vice president of petrochemicals at Chevron Phillips Chemical; and Dr. Christopher Burcham (BS ’92), senior engineering advisor at Eli Lilly and Company.

Dr. George McConaghy worked for Amoco and BP in Naperville, Illinois as Manager of Chemicals R&D, retiring in 2005 after 33 years of service. After retirement, he was a part-time visiting lecturer for the University of Illinois Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering until about 2011. He has served as a judge of both the graduate and undergraduate research symposiums in past years. In addition to his bachelor and doctoral degrees from the U of I (he studied turbulent transport in polymer solutions with the late Professor Thomas Hanratty), he has a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Washington.

After graduating with his bachelor’s degree from Illinois, Ed Dvorsky joined the Bendix Corporation (now part of Honeywell) working on research projects for advanced semiconductor technologies. New opportunities led him to positions in the microelectronics/supercomputer industry in the Midwest, including stints with Cypress Semiconductor and Cray Research. His final foray in microelectronics was with a start-up company that developed MRAM memory chips. The new millennium brought him back to Illinois and a new focus in specialty chemicals with Koppers.

At Chevron Phillips Chemical, Ron Corn is responsible for the olefins, NGL and aromatics product lines and accountable for the company’s Saudi joint ventures. Previously he served as senior vice president in specialties, aromatics and styrenics, vice president in corporate planning and development, vice president in olefins & NGL and general manager, Asia, where he oversaw all Chevron Phillips Chemical activities in the region.

Dr. Christopher Burcham currently is the lead engineer responsible for the commercialization of a late phase development project at Eli Lilly. In addition to his Illinois degree, he earned a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University in 1998.

OXE President Pierce Blazina (center) with judges (from left) Dr. Chris Burcham, Ed Dvorsky, Dr. George McConaghy and Ron Corn.

More information about the symposium can be obtained by contacting the student group at Alumni interested in volunteering as a judge for a future symposium can email

Please see below for a list of winners from previous symposiums.

Winners and participants in the ChBE Undergraduate Research Symposium

2019 Undergraduate Research Symposium
2018 Undergraduate Research Symposium
2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium
2016 Undergraduate Research Symposium
2015 Undergraduate Research Symposium
2014 Undergraduate Research Symposium
2013 Undergraduate Research Symposium
2012 Undergraduate Research Symposium

Cookie Settings