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Faculty Profiles

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Elmar Altwicker

Elmar Altwicker
Ph.D., Ohio State University
Professor

Biography
Research
Publications
Homepage

Spouted-bed combustion; destruction of wastes by incineration; mass transfer with chemical reaction

A native of Germany, Professor Altwicker came to Rensselaer in 1968 after ten years of industrial experience. His research involves both laboratory and modeling studies of incineration, with the objective of gaining improved understanding of the formation of products of incomplete combustion, such as dioxins, and developing strategies for their control. He also studies spouted-bed combustion of fuels so as to characterize performance parameters for improved fundamental understanding and application in waste destruction. He is a member of the Air and Waste Management Association and the American Chemical Society and has served on several EPA scientific review committees.

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Georges Belfort

Georges Belfort
Ph.D., University of California, Irvine
Russell Sage Professor

Biography
Research
Publications
Homepage

Membrane separations; adsorption; biocatalysis; flow sensing by NMR

A native of South Africa, Professor Belfort joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1978. He received the 1995 ACS Award in Separation Science and Technology, was recently President of the North American Membrane Society, and serves on the editorial boards of five journals. He lectures widely in both academic and industrial settings, and is an active consultant in the United States, Europe, and Japan. His research, both fundamental and developmental, is conducted in the areas of membrane-separations engineering and biocatalysis. In particular, the research involves design of new membrane modules with highly efficient mass-transfer characteristics, modification of membrane surfaces for reduced fouling, and use of genetic engineering as a tool in the separation of biological molecules. Direct measurements are also made of intermolecular forces between proteins and polymeric films for application in separations and marine fouling.

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B. Wayne Bequette

B. Wayne Bequette
Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin
Professor

Biography
Research
Publications
Homepage

Chemical-process modeling, control, design, and optimization; electronic materials processing; biomedical control applications

Prior to obtaining his doctorate, Professor Bequette spent three years as a process engineer at American Petrofina. He became a faculty member at Rensselaer in 1988, and has since developed an active research program in control-system analysis and design. He is an Associate editor of Automatica, and is active in organizing the American Control Conferences. He is a consultant with pharmaceutical firms on problems in batch-reactor scaleup and pilot-scale reaction calorimetry.

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Henry Bungay

Henry Bungay
Ph.D., Syracuse University
Emeritus Professor

Biography
Research
Publications
Homepage

Wastewater treatment; biochemical engineering

A faculty member since 1976, Professor Bungay previously held industrial, governmental, and other academic positions. His honors include a best-technical-book award from the American Association of Publishers and the James Van Lanen Distinguished Service and the Marvin Johnson Awards of the American Chemical Society. He is also a Fellow of AIChE, and the author of several books on environmental and biochemical engineering. Research in progress is with high-rate microbial processing.

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Steven M. Cramer

Steven M. Cramer
Ph.D., Yale University
Professor

Biography
Research
Publications
Publications
Homepage

Displacement, membrane, and preparative chromatography; environmental research

Since coming to Rensselaer in 1986, Professor Cramer has become a recognized expert in displacement chromatography, and has developed high-throughput preparative chromatography for purification of biomolecules. He is the co-inventor of low-molar-mass displacer technology for protein purification, and has developed several mathematical models of protein chromatography which allow accurate prediction of effluent profiles in process-scale separations. In addition, Professor Cramer has extensive experience in membrane separations, enzyme technology, and environmental separations. He is an active consultant with several biotechnology and separations companies in the United States and Europe. He has won awards for excellence in teaching and was a 1989 NSF Presidential Young Investigator. He presently serves as editor-in-chief of Separation Science and Technology.

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Jonathan S. Dordick

Jonathan S. Dordick
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Howard P. Isermann Professor

Biography
Research
Publications
Homepage

Biochemical engineering; Biocatalysis

Joining the department in August 1998, Dr. Dordick came from the University of Iowa, where he was Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. He was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers in 1996, and is listed in Who's Who in America. He serves as Associate Editor of Biotechnology and Bioengineering, and is on the editorial boards of six other journals. His research interests are in biochemical engineering and biocatalysis. He is also co-founder of EnzyMed Inc., a rapidly growing pharmaceutial discovery company, and consults regulary in the pharmaceutial and chemical industries.

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Arthur Fontijn

Arthur Fontijn
Ph.D., University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Professor

Biography
Research
Publications
Homepage

Combustion; high-temperature kinetics; gas-phase reactions

Born and educated in the Netherlands, Professor Fontijn has spent his professional career in academic and industrial positions in Canada and the United States. He joined Rensselaer in 1981, and soon established the High-Temperature Reaction Kinetics Laboratory, which houses his research group. His pioneering research in development of experimental techniques for determining accurate kinetic data for gas-phase reactions over a wide temperature range is of broad interest both to the engineering community and to theoreticians. He received the Silver Medal of the International Combustion Institute for this development. He is widely recognized for work in chemiluminescent gas reactions, and was awarded the 1985 ACS Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science and Technology for his work on atmospheric-pollution measurement and control.

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Shekhar Garde

Shekhar Garde
Ph.D., University of Delaware,
Elaine and Jack S. Parker Career Development Professor

Biography
Publications
Research
Homepage

Molecular thermodynamics and simulation of biological systems; statistical mechanics of liquids; solvation phenomena; water structure.

Professor Garde joined the department in 1999. He received hisB.S. is Chemical Engineering (1992) from the University of Bombay anda Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering (1997) from the University ofDelaware. He was awarded a Director's postdoctoral fellowship by theLos Alamos National Laboratory (NM) where he performed independentresearch during 1997-99. Using molecular simulation and statisticalmechanical tools, his research focuses on understanding
(1)three-dimensional organization of water molecules in the vicinity ofnonpolar and polar solutes and protein interfaces, and
(2) how thispeculiar water organization induces interactions between solutes ofdifferent geometric shape and chemical nature.
These water-mediatedinteractions provide driving forces for proteins to fold into uniquethree-dimensional structures that are responsible for their variousfunctions.

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William Gill

William Gill
Ph.D., Syracuse University.
Professor

Biography
Publications
Research
Homepage

Microelectronics; reverse osmosis; crystal growth; ceramic composites

Professor Gill's distinguished career as an educator includes teaching positions at Syracuse; Clarkson College of Technology, where he served as Department Chairman; SUNY-Buffalo, where he served as Dean of Engineering and Applied Science; Iowa State; and Rensselaer, where he was appointed Department Head in 1987, serving a 5-year term. He is an AIChE Fellow, and in 1992 received the Chemical Engineering Division Lectureship Award of ASEE for outstanding contributions to fundamental chemical engineering theory and practice. He has been editor of Chemical Engineering Communications since 1979. Current research topics include experimental and/or theoretical investigations of chemical vapor deposition of metallic films, membrane separation for the recycle and purification of integrated-circuit etching solutions, and ultrafiltration of macromolecular and colloidal solutions.

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Ravi Kane

Ravi Kane
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor of Chemical Engineering

Homepage

Biotechnology; Nanotechnology

Professor Kane joined the department in 2001. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University (1993), an M.S. in Chemical Engineering from MIT (1995), and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from MIT (1998). He worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the department of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University (1998-2001). Dr. Kane's group is interested in investigating and solving problems in medicine and biology by the molecular engineering of materials and surfaces. His group is particularly interested in modulating interactions between biological surfaces by using soft materials - functionalized polymers and elastomers.

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Howard Littman

Howard Littman
Ph.D., Yale University
Professor

Biography
Research
Publications
Homepage

Fluidization; spouting fluid/particle systems

Professor Littman has been on the faculty since 1965, and has used his expertise in fluid mechanics for the study of fluidized beds, spouted beds, and fluid/particle systems generally. Current research projects include the theoretical study and experimental development of a system for the movement of powders in a transport line fed from a spouted bed, the spouted-bed coating of fine particles, and the effects of turbulence on the drag coefficient of particles in pneumatic transport. He holds several patents and is an active consultant.

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E. Bruce Nauman

E. Bruce Nauman
Ph.D., University of Leeds, England
Professor

Biography
Research
Publications
Homepage

Recycling of mixed plastics; structure and properties of polymers; polymer devolatization

Professor Nauman held positions with Union Carbide Corporation and Xerox Corporation during the seventeen years before coming to Rensselaer in 1981 as Department Chairman. He is presently the Director of Industrial Liaison for Chemical Engineering, a consultant to many companies, a Fellow of AIChE, and an editor of The Chemical Engineering Journal and Chemical Engineering Research \& Design. Dr. Nauman's large and active research group works in polymer reaction engineering and polymer blends. (See ``Designing Polymer Blends'' in the August, 1996, issue of Chemtech.) Another major development is a process for separation of mixed plastic wastes for recycling. The mixed plastics are extracted at a series of temperatures, each individual polymer dissolving at a particular temperature. The resulting solutions of polymer and solvent are heated under pressure and flashed into vacuum, thus separating the pure polymer from the solvent.

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Joel Plawsky

Joel Plawsky
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor


Biography
Research
Publications
Homepage

Electronic and photonic materials; interfacial phenomena

Professor Plawsky spent two years as a Senior Engineer with Corning, Inc. before coming to Rensselaer in 1988 to teach in the area of transport phenomena. He held a Lilly Teaching Fellowship during 1991--1992. His major research interests are in thin films, optical engineering, and infrastructure engineering. Specific projects include study of the dynamics of draining thin films, design of heat pipes for cooling microelectronic devices, development of diffusion processes for integrated optical components, and predicting the state of concrete during its curing.

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Susan Sharfstein

Susan Sharfstein
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Assistant Professor


Biography
Publications

Biochemical engineering, mammalian cell biotechnology

Professor Sharfstein joined the department in 2001 after serving on the faculty at the University of Toledo and spending a year as a visiting scientist at the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Laboratories. After receiving her Ph.D. in 1993, Dr. Sharfstein received a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship to perform postdoctoral research, first at UC Berkeley and then at UCLA Medical School. The focus of her research is in optimization of mammalian cell culture systems using the tools of cell and molecular biology. Dr. Sharfstein received an NSF Career award in 2000 for her work on hybridoma cells.

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Hendrick C. Van Ness

Hendrick C. Van Ness
D.Eng., Yale University
Institute Professor Emeritus

Biography
Publications
Homepage

Thermodynamics

H.C. Van Ness, Institute Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering, has contributed importantly to the pedagogical, experimental, and theoretical aspects of applied chemical thermodynamics. The most notable of his textbooks is Introduction to Chemical Engineering thermodynamics, now in its 6th edition, coauthored with J.M. Smith and M.M. Abbott. This has been the standard text for chemical engineering undergraduates for over 40 years and is the most widely used chemical engineering text of all time. It has transformed chemical thermodynamics into a work-a-day tool for practicing chemical engineers.

Contributions by Professor Van Ness to the literature of applied chemical thermodynamics reflects its function as a bridge between experiment and practical application. Bringing engineering design to experiment, his laboratory devised a heat-of-mixing calorimeter and a vapor/liquid equilibrium apparatus as prototypes of devices now used world-wide for accurate and rapid measurement of two primary physical properties. Parallel with experiment has been the development of efficient techniques for data reduction, fundamental to the correlation and generalization of thermodynamic properties for application to chemical-process design.

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Peter C. Wayner

Peter C. Wayner
Ph.D., Northwestern University
Professor

Biography
Publications
Research
Homepage

Heat transfer; interfacial phenomena

Professor Wayner came to Rensselaer in 1965 from the United Aircraft Corporation Research Laboratories. A Fellow of AIChE and past Chairman of the Heat Transfer and Energy Conversion Division, he carries out theoretical and experimental studies of the effect of interfacial phenomena on change-of-phase heat transfer in films so thin that the average intermolecular force field is affected by the film thickness. Microscopic imaging techniques based on ellipsometry and interferometry are being developed and applied to find film-thickness profiles and thus the internal pressure field in the film. Results from such basic studies are used in boiling and in the design of heat pipes for cooling microelectronic devices and space stations. The formation, uniformity, and properties of sol-gel coatings are also being studied by these optical techniques. A space experiment is being developed for NASA.

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