Department of Chemical Engineering

In the academic year 2001–2002, the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT maintained and exceeded its usual high productivity and visibility in teaching and research. For the thirteenth year in a row, US News and World Report awarded the Department the number one ranking in chemical engineering. The department has also had a tremendous year fiscally, with research dollar volume topping $22 million. This represents a 16.33 percent increase compared to last year's figure.

During the academic year, 33 doctoral degrees (PhD and ScD) were awarded, along with 39 SM and/or master's-level degrees, which total 72 of advanced degrees conferred. Eighty-two SB degrees were conferred as of June 2002, with 66 percent being awarded to women.

The department's undergraduate enrollment stands at 197 students. A $3.4 million renovation of the entire sub-basement of Building 66 created a state-of-the-art teaching laboratory, thanks in large part to the generous donations of Gordon Cain and Edwin G. Roos '44. The inaugural use was for the spring 2002 semester senior capstone laboratory subject, 10.26. This coming year, undergraduates will receive additional support from the newly renamed and expanded Student Services Office. Formerly this office focused only on graduate students.

newly renovated undergraduate teaching laboratory
Newly renovated undergraduate teaching laboratory

The graduate student enrollment is stable at 248 students, with 210 in the doctoral program and 38 master's-level degree candidates, most of whom are students in the David H. Koch School of Chemical Engineering Practice. The graduate programs include 88 foreign, 68 female, and 37 self-identified minority students, of which 24 are Asian-Americans. An additional four students from the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, participated in the Practice School Program as part of the Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI). This year, we received 339 applications for our doctoral program and offered admission to 80 individuals; of the 80, 56 will be matriculating in the fall term of 2002.

We are very pleased to announce that Professor Linda G. Griffith was promoted from associate professor with tenure to full professor of chemical and biological engineering, effective July 1, 2002.

With equal delight, we also announce the granting of tenure to Associate Professor Paula T. Hammond, also effective July 1, 2002. Professor Hammond, along with Professor Gast, played a pivotal role in garnering for MIT a US Army contract to set up the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN), a $50-million, five-year project to develop lightweight molecular materials which can be used to create self-healing and protective gear for soldiers to shield them from weapons of war that are chemical or biological in nature. Professor Hammond is a pioneer in that she is the first woman of African-American descent to achieve tenure in the School of Engineering at MIT.

The faculty have once again proven themselves leaders in their fields and we are especially proud to note the following achievements. Professor Robert S. Langer was awarded the 2002 Charles Stark Draper Prize, the highest honor conferred by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), which carries with it an award of $500,000.00 intended to increase public understanding of the contributions of engineers, particularly in technology, to the welfare and freedom of humanity. Professor Langer is also credited for developing biocompatible polymer technologies that control the release of medicine over time (anywhere from weeks to years) and his contributions to science have significantly advanced the controlled drug delivery industry—a $20 billion industry in the United States alone. Professor Langer is also the 2002 recipient of the Othmer Gold Medal awarded by the Chemical Heritage Foundation. The very same award was first granted to an alumnus of the department, and the namesake of the Department's main building—Ralph Landau. Professor Klavs F. Jensen was elected into the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for his fundamental contributions to multi-scale chemical reaction engineering with important applications in microelectronic materials processing and microreactor technology. The 2002 Merck Award in metabolic engineering was awarded to Professor Gregory Stephanopoulos, and the head of the department, Professor Robert C. Armstrong, received the 2002 Distinguished Service Citation Award from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

New Initiatives

Molecular Engineering of Biological and Chemical Systems

The Molecular Engineering of Biological and Chemical Systems (MEBCS) program was successfully initiated in 2001 as one of the five graduate programs under the Singapore-MIT Alliance (SMA), a joint educational and research enterprise between MIT, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), also in Singapore. Chaired by Professor Jackie Ying of MIT and Professor Miranda Yap of NUS, the MEBCS program offers two innovative courses of study that integrate a molecular-level understanding of biological and chemical phenomena with advances in process engineering for the life science and fine chemical industries. It involves 16 faculty fellows from MIT and Singapore, who have jointly developed eight new subjects with advanced distance education technologies, two of which have been cross-listed at MIT. The program currently has an enrollment of 45 SM/PhD students, who were selected in 2002 from an excellent pool of 250 applicants from Asia and Australia. The SM program is an intense one-year course that includes two six-week industrial immersion projects at international pharmaceutical and fine chemical companies. The PhD program involves advanced coursework and independent research jointly supervised by MIT and Singapore faculty on structured fluids, surface functionalization, microstructure tailoring and materials design in relation to fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals synthesis; as well as on molecular and cellular aspects of biotechnology, genomics, bioinformatics, proteomics, and drug design and delivery that serve as bases for advanced bioengineering. SM and PhD students spend at least one month and one semester, respectively, at MIT for coursework and research interactions.

Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation

Thanks to a generous $20 million gift from Jaishree Deshpande and Desh Deshpande, successful entrepreneur and co-founder of Sycamore Networks, the MIT School of Engineering has established the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation (DCTI). Professor Charles L. Cooney, in the Department of Chemical Engineering has been named center director.

The mission of the Deshpande Center is to focus on support of leading edge research on new and emerging technologies in a manner that will enable and increase interactions between MIT, individual entrepreneurs, innovative companies, and the venture capital community. Thus, we seek to improve on and broaden skills already incorporated into the Institute's culture.

To achieve this mission, the Deshpande Center will focus on the following objectives:

The Deshpande Center has formulated a grants program to provide funding to permit faculty and their students to pursue new avenues of research on novel technologies. We anticipate that some of the emerging technology funded through the Center will lead to intellectual property that can accelerate the incorporation of the technology into new or existing innovative companies.

The Deshpande Center Grant Program includes two types of funding. These are the ignition grants and innovation program grants for support of research at MIT in all areas of technology. In this first year, the center has available up to $1 million in grants. The scope of the grant program will increase over time, providing a minimum of approximately $15 million in research funding over the next five years.

The ignition grants are meant to provide MIT School of Engineering faculty with funding that will allow them, with students, post-doctoral research associates, and staff, to explore new ideas and new directions that, if successful, will enable them to do something that could not be done before. Funding is targeted at projects that focus on novel, enabling, and potentially useful ideas and concepts in all areas of technology. These grants will typically be on the order of $50,000.00 and might lead only to exploratory experiments and establishing proof of concept, which could be suitable for follow-on funding with an innovation program grant.

The Innovation Program Grants will fund work on concepts whose technical feasibility has been established; there might already be the basis of some intellectual property but further demonstration of success or broadening of application is required. It is expected that these programs will have well defined research plans with identifiable milestones and deliverables. It is likely that one or more innovative companies might have been identified as targets for the use of the results for this work and that during the course of the program collaborations might be established. Company collaborations are likely to include licensing of relevant MIT intellectual property. These awards are expected to be up to $250,000 per year.

return to top

Undergraduate Education

Undergraduate Enrollment Over the Last Nine Years

Class Level

The department undergraduate enrollment stands at 197 students, with the sophomore class being somewhat smaller than in recent years. Preliminary figures for next year's (2002–2003) sophomore class show a modest increase over this year. The percentage of women in the department now stands at 60. While enrollment is down a bit, student quality remains excellent. Implementation of the undergraduate curriculum revision began with the new introductory subject, 10.10 Introduction to Chemical Engineering offered for the first time in the spring term of 2001–2002. Both students and the teaching faculty were very pleased with the results, and the subject will subsequently be offered each term. We also began to use our newly-renovated undergraduate laboratory space in the sub-basement of Building 66; it is a wonderful addition to the department's teaching resources. Employment opportunities remain strong across the variety of industries that employ chemical engineers.

Bradley D. Olsen was awarded a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the only chemical engineering student in the nation to be so honored this year. At the Institute level, Selam Daniel was awarded the Priscilla King Gray Award for public service. Our female athletes were also honored. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Student Chapter President, Princess Imoukhuede, a weight thrower, won the Betsy Schumacher Award for excellence in athletic competition, and Michelle Verticchio, a standout in field and ice hockey, took the Malcolm G. Kispert Award for female scholar/athlete of the year.

return to top

Graduate Education

Graduate Enrollment Over the Last Nine Years

Degree Level

Completing their first year of additional responsibilities are Professor Daniel Blankschtein as graduate officer, and Professor K. Dane Wittrup as the head of the Graduate Admissions Committee. Because of their efforts in coordination with the faculty advisors of the department, 100 percent of the past year's rising class passed both the written and oral qualifying examinations and have, thus, been promoted to candidacy for the PhD/ScD, and the incoming graduate class are of such high caliber, entering with an average undergraduate GPA of 4.87/5.00 and are at the 93d percentile of the Graduate Record Examinations (GREs).

The renovation of the second floor of Building 66 is expected to be completed before the beginning of the fall term of 2002 and will vastly improve the quality of office spaces set aside for graduate students and enable them to exchange ideas more effectively with each other.

return to top

Faculty Notes

Professor Robert C. Armstrong continued as head of the Department of Chemical Engineering during the academic year 2001-2002. In November 2001 he received the Distinguished Service Citation Award, from the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He was elected as second vice chair of the governing board of the Council for Chemical Research; he will chair this organization in 2005. He currently serves on the external advisory boards and/or visiting committees of the respective Departments of Chemical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwestern and Texas A&M Universities, the Universities of Michigan at Ann Arbor and of Wisconsin at Madison, and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

Professor Paul I. Barton gave invited papers at the Fifth Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Conference on Control and its Applications in San Diego, California; the International Conference on Scientific Computation and Differential Equations in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; the Sensitivity Analysis Workshop 2001 at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California; and the Seventh SIAM Conference on Optimization in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He gave an invited lecture at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He was elected a director of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Computing and Systems Technology Division, continued to serve on the editorial board of Chemical Engineering and Processing, and organized a mini symposium at the International Conference on Scientific Computation and Differential Equations in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Professor E. Daniel Blankschtein was a keynote speaker at the 76th American Chemical Society Colloid and Surface Science Symposium in Ann Arbor, Michigan and also chaired a session on "Nanoscale Organization via Self-Assembly in Non-Aqueous Media" at the Symposium. He was also guest editor of the section on "Thermodynamics and Theoretical Aspects of Colloid Science" for the journal, Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science. He continues to serve in the editorial boards of Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science and Marcel Dekker's Surfactant Science Series. Professor Blankschtein received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the graduate students in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and continues to serve as graduate officer in the department.

Professor Howard Brenner received the 2001 Fluid Dynamics Prize of the Division of Fluid Dynamics of the American Physical Society. He served as a member of the Chemical Engineering Peer Review Committee of the National Academy of Engineering, and was chosen to serve for the period 2002–2005 as a member of the Membership Committee of that organization. During the year, he presented or co-presented invited seminars and lectures at the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY-Buffalo), the annual meeting of the Division of Fluid Dynamic of the American Physical Society, including delivering the Fluid Dynamics Prize lecture, the Annual American Institute of Chemical Engineers Meeting, the Society of Rheology, the University of Florida Engineering Research Center for Particle Science and Technology, the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Harvard University, and the International Workshop on Particles and Polymers Near Interfaces in the Netherlands.

Professor Robert A. Brown continued serving as provost at MIT, a position he has held since 1998. He also continued as executive editor of the Journal of Chemical Engineering Science and as a member of the National Research Council (NRC) decadal study on the "Frontiers in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering." Among other forms of service, Professor Brown continued to serve on the International Academic Advisory Panel (IAAP) to the Government of Singapore and as director of the DuPont-MIT Alliance (DMA) at MIT. He was a plenary speaker at the World Congress on Chemical Engineering in Melbourne, Australia in October 2001 and at the American Institute of Architects' Conference on Architecture and Education in Boston, Massachusetts in April 2002. Professor Brown also delivered the Lavoisier Lecture at E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company in 2001.

Professor Robert E. Cohen continued as chair of the steering committee of the PhD in chemical engineering practice (PhDCEP) doctoral program, now in its third year of operation. Eleven students are currently enrolled in various stages of the program. He also continues to co-direct, with Professor Douglas Lauffenburger, the operations of the DuPont-MIT Alliance (DMA), a $35 million/five-year education and research initiative in the area of bio-based materials. Professor Cohen is a member of the external advisory committee of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Columbia University. He continues to serve as a member of the board of directors of the William and Mary Greve Foundation in New York. He is also a director of Mattek Corporation, a surface science/tissue engineering company he co-founded in 1985 with former colleague, Professor Emeritus Raymond F. Baddour. Professor Cohen's 12-student research group generates new knowledge, publications, and patents in the area of polymer science and technology. In the past year papers were presented at the meetings of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Chemical Society, and the Materials Research Society, and invited lectures were delivered at the University of Minnesota, the University of Massachusetts, and Columbia University. Professor Cohen's teaching responsibilities include 10.568 Polymer Physical Chemistry, a popular graduate elective in chemical engineering and a required core subject in the curriculum of the interdepartmental Program in Polymer Science and Technology (PPST). He developed and delivered a new module for the undergraduate subject, 10.491 Integrated Chemical Engineering (ICE). The new ICE module introduced students to concepts of product design and structure/property relationships in the context of polymeric gas separation membranes.

Professor Charles L. Cooney stepped down from the position of executive officer of the department on June 30, 2001 and after finishing coordination of the American Board of Engineering and Technology review for the department in September 2001 left for a yearlong sabbatical at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in the Chemical Engineering Department. He continues on the board of the MIT Community Services Fund. He is the co-director of the Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals, an industry consortium jointly run with Purdue University to support research on pharmaceutical manufacturing and continues as co-director of the Program on the Pharmaceutical Industry, a joint program between the Schools of Engineering, Science, Humanities, and Management at MIT. On March 1, 2002, Professor Cooney was appointed as faculty director of the new Deshpande Center for Technological innovation in the School of Engineering. He has continued his participation on the external review committee for the Department of Chemical Engineering of the University of Cambridge and was named as a Cambridge-MIT Institute fellow in March 2002.

Professor William M. Deen and the members of his laboratory continued their investigations in the areas of hindered transport in fibrous media, water and macromolecule filtration in kidney capillaries, and physico-chemical aspects of nitric oxide toxicity and carcinogenicity.

Professor Patrick S. Doyle was an invited lecturer at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Brandeis University, General Electric, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. Professor Doyle's group continues to investigate single molecule DNA dynamics and to develop mesoscopic simulations for studying polymer rheology. On the MIT campus, he developed a new Independent Activities Program (IAP) course for freshmen entitled "Hands-on ChE" with Professor Kenneth Beers.

Professor Alice P. Gast, vice president for research and associate provost, joined the MIT faculty and administration in November 2001. She has remained the co-chair of the National Research Council Board on Chemical Science and Technology and on the visiting committee for the Cornell University School of Chemical Engineering. Last fall she gave the Holtz Lectures at the Johns Hopkins University and was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering . She gave the Henske Lecture at Yale University and the plenary lecture at the 76th American Chemical Society  Colloid and Surface Science Symposium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was awarded the University of Southern California School of Engineering Award for Academic Excellence. She has moved her laboratory and one student to MIT, graduated two students and has four remaining at Stanford University. Her National Aeronautics and Space Administration-sponsored research on magnetic fluids will be moved to the International Space Station; her first experiment will be performed there this fall.

Professor Karen K. Gleason completed her first year as the department's executive officer. In this role, she won Institute approval for required changes to the undergraduate curriculum that enhanced the introductory and capstone experiences for undergraduate chemical engineering majors. Professor Gleason also led a department-wide curriculum review process this spring aimed at promoting more rapid introduction of examples from biology and advanced materials into the core undergraduate subjects. In addition, she gave invited presentations at Semicon Japan, the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zürich, Switzerland, Stanford University, the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Arizona, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Intel Corporation, and the DuPont Corporation. Together with two of her former PhD students, Professor Gleason co-founded GVD Corporation, the aim of which is to translate her laboratory's inventions for the vapor deposition of polymeric coatings to commercial applications in the membrane, medical device, and biopharmaceutical sectors.

Professor William H. Green, Jr. joined the editorial advisory board of the International Journal of Chemical Kinetics in January 2002. Professor Green continues to co-chair the sessions on "Combustion Reaction Engineering" for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' annual meeting. He presented invited lectures on his research to the Chemical Engineering Departments at Stanford University and the University of California at Santa Barbara, and at the American Chemical Society's Spring National Meeting. Professor Green wrote an overview of his work on computing rate constants from first principles for Theoretical Chemistry Accounts. On a more practical side, he invented a method for establishing the fundamental limits on achievable yields in complex catalytic processes, and a method for predicting the range of operability of novel homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) internal combustion engines. Professor Green and Professor Herbert H. Sawin developed and co-taught the new subject, 10.10 Introduction to Chemical Engineering, for freshmen in the spring 2002 term. It is anticipated that this will become the first required subject for chemical engineering majors.

Professor Linda G. Griffith was promoted to full professor of chemical and biological engineering effective July 1, 2002. She is continuing to develop the LiverChip™ for study of liver physiology and detection of biowarfare agents and environmental toxins. Her work was profiled in May on the PBS series "Scientific American Frontiers" hosted by Alan Alda. She is participating in the Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI) program and was chosen as a CMI fellow.

Professor Paula T. Hammond was promoted this year to associate professor with tenure in the Department of Chemical Engineering effective July 1, 2002. Professor Hammond's research work on directed assembly of colloidal particles on patterned surfaces was featured on the cover of Advanced Materials; the image, which was captured by Felice Frankel, was also featured in a photography text by Dr. Frankel just released by the MIT press. Professor Hammond was a key faculty member responsible for the identification, planning and writing of a proposal for the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN) at MIT. This major multidisciplinary research center, involving over 35 MIT faculty members, was funded for $50 million by the United States Army, is directed towards new technologies for the protection of the soldier. Professor Hammond is a member of the ISN Executive Committee, is the facilities coordinator and is a research team leader in the ISN. She has given invited talks at the Gordon Conference on Polymers in Ventura, California and the Polyelectrolytes 2002 Conference in Lund, Sweden. She was also an invited speaker at several companies and universities, including the University of Minnesota, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Schlumberger.

Professor Jack B. Howard continues to serve as director of the Center on Airborne Organics involving MIT, the California Institute of Technology, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He was the Paul Chung Distinguished Lecturer in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago and he received the honorary doctor of engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. 

Professor Klavs F. Jensen was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). In collaboration with colleagues at MIT, he continued research on microfabricated chemical systems for chemical and biological synthesis and analysis, microsystems for fuel processing, on multiscale modeling of reactive processes for thin film deposition, and quantum dot composite materials for optical devices. The MicroChemical Systems Technology Center was started in his laboratory with support of eight international chemical and pharmaceutical companies. Professor Jensen was also principal investigator for the new MIT Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program on microchemical systems for conversion of fuel to electrical power. This program involves researchers from a number of departments across the School of Engineering. He participated with colleagues from the Departments of Biology, Chemical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in a DuPont-MIT Alliance research project on microfabricated bioprocessors. He co-chaired the National Research Council (NRC) Workshop on Materials and Processes as a part of the NRC's survey of chemical sciences. As the 2002 L.K. Doraiswamy Lecturer he presented lectures at the Iowa State University and the Indian National Chemical Laboratory in Pune, India. He also gave the 2002 Donald L. Katz Lectures at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He gave several invited presentations on microchemical systems and at national and international conferences and at universities.

Professor Robert S. Langer is the Kenneth J. Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Langer was honored by the National Academy of Engineers (NAE) with the 2002 Charles Stark Draper Prize, the world's most prestigious engineering prize, which carries an award of $500,000.00. He received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel in 2002. He also received the Othmer Gold Medal from the Chemical Heritage Foundation and the 2002 Nagai Innovation Award from the Controlled Release Society. He was the 2002 distinguished lecturer at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, the 2002 institute lecturer of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the 2001 Ullyot lecturer of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the 2001 Clapp lecturer at Brown University, the 2001 Julian Smith lecturer at Cornell University, the 2001 Mason lecturer at Stanford University, and the 2001 distinguished lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University. Time Magazine named him one of the "100 Most Important People in America" ("America's Best") and one of the 18 Most Important Individuals in Science and Medicine in the United States. Discover Magazine also named him one of "20 Biotech Geniuses to Watch".

Professor Douglas A. Lauffenburger was elected this past year to membership in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. At MIT, he continues as co-director of the Biological Engineering Division (BE), formerly the Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health, director of the Biotechnology Process Engineering Center, and associate director of the DuPont-MIT Alliance in bio-based materials. At the national level, he is serving on the Advisory Council for the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and this current year is chair of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

Professor Paul E. Laibinis delivered invited seminars at Rice University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts General Hospital, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and North Carolina State Universities, the Universities of Houston and of Maine, Tufts and Columbia Universities, the City College of New York, and various industrial laboratories. He gave invited presentations at the 2d Chemical Engineering Conference for Collaborative Research in the Eastern Mediterranean in Turkey, an international conference on "Self-Assembly: The Future" in Italy, and various domestic meetings on his group's development of a new class of chemical sensors and gene chips. For his efforts in surface engineering, he was selected by the Information Sciences Institute in 2002 as being among the top-cited authors in the area of molecular self-assembly during 1981–1999. He serves on the editorial boards of the journals Langmuir and Sensors and the Victor K. LaMer Award Committee of the Colloid and Surface Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society. Professor Laibinis is also a faculty fellow in the Singapore-MIT Alliance Program on the Molecular Engineering of Biological and Chemical Systems. In January 2003, Professor Laibinis will join the Chemical Engineering Department at Rice University.

Professor Gregory C. Rutledge is currently serving as director of the Program in Polymer Science and Technology at MIT, an interdisciplinary educational program that draws a small but élite group of graduate students to MIT for polymer studies. He has continued his research to develop improved tools for the atomistic modeling of polymeric materials and on electrospinning of polymer nanofibers. He is a team leader for processing and characterization in the new Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at MIT, as well as a continuing investigator in the Center for Materials Science and Engineering, the Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films, the National Textile Center, and the Air Force Program on Nanocomposites at MIT. Over the past year he has delivered a number of invited talks, including those at the European Polymer Society, the Centre Européen de Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire —the European Center for Atomic and Molecular Computations—at the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Gordon Research Conference on Composites, the Flory Award Symposium of the American Chemical Society, the International Symposium on Polymer Crystallization in Mishima, Japan, and several academic institutions. He continues to serve on the editorial boards of Polymer and Computational and Theoretical Polymer Science, and co-teaches the ACS short course on Molecular Modeling of Polymers.

Professor Herbert H. Sawin developed, in collaboration with Professor William H. Green, Jr., a new introductory course for the chemical engineering curriculum, 10.10 Introduction to Chemical Engineering. This course combines instruction in mass and energy balances, engineering problem solving, and MATLAB programming. Professor Sawin was made a fellow of the American Vacuum Society. He gave an invited talk at the Electrochemical Society Plasma Symposium on the use of multivariate statistics for the analysis of optical emission in the identification of endpoint in plasma etching processes. He gave a chemical engineering departmental seminar at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Professor Kenneth A. Smith has continued his research on the roles of fluid mechanics and transport phenomena in a number of contexts. These include use of the supercritical water oxidation process for destruction of organic wastes, jointly with Professor Jefferson W. Tester, and the dynamics of micellar self-assembly, jointly with Professor T. Alan Hatton. He is also engaged in the development of an instrument that can determine the size-segregated chemical composition of an aerosol and do so in real time. He is participating in the Molecular Engineering of Biological and Chemical Systems (MEBCS) program within the Singapore-MIT Alliance (SMA). In addition, he delivered invited lectures at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China and at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zürich, Switzerland.

The central goal of Professor Gregory Stephanopoulos's educational and research activity is to extend the chemical engineering paradigm to the analysis and design of biological systems, thus developing a foundation for chemical and biological engineering at MIT and nationally. This requires increasing biological content in the chemical engineering curriculum and tighter integration between biology and engineering. The current Bayer professor of the department, his efforts were recognized in the fall of 2001 by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Wilhelm Award in chemical reaction engineering, the 2002 Merck Award in metabolic engineering and the 2002 CIO Magazine 20/20 Vision Award honoring 20 academic (and 20 industrial), visionary leaders in information technology for pioneering work in biological data mining and bioinformatics.

Professor Stephanopoulos continued as co-editor of the journal, Metabolic Engineering, published by Elsevier Academic Press. In addition, he serves on the editorial boards of seven other scientific journals. He delivered plenary lectures at the 10th European Conference in Biotechnology in Madrid, Spain in July 2001, the Bioinformatics Gordon Research Conference in August 2001, the Princeton Symposium on Metabolic Engineering in December 2001, the Conference on New Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in March 2002, the European Symposium on Biocatalysis in Como, Italy in May 2002, and the Annual DECHEMA (the German Association of Industrial Chemists) Meeting in Wiesbaden, Germany in June 2002. He was also the 2002 Merck lecturer at the University of Virginia and at the Rutgers University Distinguished Lecture series. Professor Stephanopoulos also participates in the DuPont-MIT Alliance, is a Fellow of the Singapore-MIT Alliance and a member of the International Faculty of the Technical University of Denmark.

After serving as the director of the Energy Laboratory for the past 12 years, Professor Jefferson W. Tester decided to step down and resume his responsibilities as a faculty member in the department. He continues to be active in the energy area where he remains as chair of the National Advisory Council of the Department of Energy's (DoE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory and co-chair of the Governor's Advisory Board for the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust. Professor Tester also continued as a member of the advisory groups for the Paul Scherrer Institute, which is part of the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Zürich, Switzerland and the Nuclear and Energy Systems Division of the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. Last year, while on sabbatical, he gave invited lectures at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado, and provided invited testimony at several US government hearings and forums on distributed energy and renewable energy and on sustainable waste treatment. He was also the recipient of the department's Outstanding Faculty Award.

Professor Bernhardt L. Trout was named the Henry C. and Grace Doherty Professor of Ocean Utilization for his work on clathrate-hydrates. He was awarded an NSF CAREER grant for his work with solid-acid zeolyte catalysis. In addition, he has been granted a Ford Motor Company Young Investigator Award. He has given invited talks at the National University of Singapore, the National Research Council of Canada, and the California Institute of Technology, in addition to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Chemical Society. Funding for his projects on chemical and process design via molecular understanding is provided by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Amgen, Inc., and the Ford Motor Company.

Professor Daniel I.C. Wang was the keynote lecturer at the Society of Industrial Microbiology/American Chemical Society (ACS) in November 2001 at their annual meeting held in Long Beach, California. Professor Wang chaired the National Science Foundation's Workshop on the "Future of Biochemical Engineering." He was awarded the Taiwan Semiconductor Corporation professor lectureship and delivered two lectures at the Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan in June 2002. He delivered the keynote lecture at the 7th Asian Biochemical Engineering Conference at Taipei, Taiwan in July 2002. He was invited by the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences in Singapore to be a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for a three-year appointment. In addition, he was invited to deliver an address at the 2d Meeting of the MIT Club of Germany in Munich in November 2002. Lastly, he was also invited to deliver the keynote address on "Trends in Biotechnology" to be held in Vienna, Austria in November 2002.

Professor Jackie Y. Ying delivered fourteen invited lectures at various international conferences and national meetings during the past year, including plenary lectures at the Third International Symposium on Mesostructured Materials in Korea and the Fourth World Congress on Particle Technology in Australia. She served on the scientific/programming committee of the Sixth International Conference on Nanostructured Materials, and on the organizing committee of the Second Japan-America Frontiers of Engineering Symposium. Professor Ying was the inaugural G.-J. Su distinguished lecturer at the University of Rochester and an invited seminar speaker at the University of California at Los Angeles. She serves on the editorial boards of seven journals/book series, as well as on the advisory boards of the Leibniz-Institut für Festkörper- und Werkstoffforschung Dresden in Germany, the University of Queensland Nanomaterials Centre in Australia, and the National Research Council Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences in Canada. Professor Ying is an honorary professor of chemistry of Jilin University in China, a director of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' Materials Engineering and Sciences Division, and an Executive Committee Member of the American Chemical Society's Colloid and Surface Chemistry Division. She chairs the Singapore-MIT Alliance Program on Molecular Engineering of Biological and Chemical Systems.

Other members of the faculty in the department include: Assistant Professor Kenneth J. Beers; Professor Clark K. Colton; Professor T. Alan Hatton; Professor Gregory J. McRae; Professor George Stephanopoulos; Associate Professor Preetinder S. Virk; and Professor K. Dane Wittrup, as well as senior lecturers, Dr. Barry S. Johnston and Dr. C. Michael Mohr.

return to top

Research Highlights

Electrospinning of Polymer Fibers (Professor Gregory C. Rutledge)

Electrostatic fiber spinnning, or "electrospinning", is a technology that uses electric fields applied to charged fluid streams to produce polymeric fibers that are typically hundreds of nanometers in diameter, two to three orders of magnitude smaller than fibers produced by conventional extrusion methods, and three orders of magnitude smaller than the typical human hair. Materials manufactured from such fibers exhibit potentially unusual fiber morphologies, very high porosity (e.g., >90%) and surface area (hundreds of square meters per gram), and pore sizes that can be varied over a wide range, from 1 to 1,000 microns. These materials are attracting interest in applications as diverse as filtration and membranes, composites, biomimetic materials for tissue engineering, drug delivery, and electronics.

Professor Rutledge's group has been developing the fundamental understanding required to operate and scale up this process for practical use. The process itself involves charging a polymeric fluid, for example by raising it to a voltage of 10-30 kV, in an electric field. The charged fluid ejects a jet that is then accelerated downfield to a collection device maintained at a lower potential. En route to the collector, the charged fluid stream undergoes one or more fluid instabilities, resulting in a jet that whips around in space, thereby rapidly stretching the fluid filament to ever smaller diameters. As the filament dries, the solid fibers are conveyed to the collector, where a nonwoven material or yarn is obtained. Using high-speed photography, the Rutledge group was among the first to identify the nature of these instabilities and to capture them on film. A particularly illuminating example has appeared in Felice Frankel's recent book, Envisioning Science: The Design and Craft of the Science Image (MIT Press, 2002).

In collaboration with Professor Michael Brenner of Harvard University, a simple analytical electrohydrodynamic model for a slender charged jet in an electric field has been developed and tested against carefully designed experiments on model fluids. Using a linear instability analysis, the origins of several varicose and whipping instabilities have been identified and quantified. This synergy between theory and experiment has resulted in new insight regarding what are the controlling parameters during electrospinning, and has directed development of the technology in new directions. The theory permits the elaboration of design principles, operating diagrams and scaling relations that help the engineer to apply the technology to new materials and obtain new products.

In MIT's new Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, electrospinning represents one of the key technologies for fabricating integrated, multifunctional textiles with nanoscale structure. By confining polymer molecules to fibers with diameters less than 100 nm, new morphologies and properties are expected for these fibers. Such fibers may be used to create composites for ballistic and other impact protection. Fibers in this size range are also better mimics of naturally occurring fibrils in the extracellular matrix of tissues than are more conventional fibers. The feature, combined with other qualities of electrospun materials such as high porosity and controllable pore size, offers promise for these materials in biomedical applications. The envisioned textiles also have filtration and chemical remediation specifications for chemical and biological warfare protection; for these purposes, nanofiber-based nonwoven fabrics are uniquely suited.

Engineering Superior Cells (Professor Gregory Stephanopoulos)

 As lately hardly a day passes without yet another biological breakthrough, you may have asked your microbiologist friend whether she or he knows of a microbe capable of producing the molecule of your choice. In the unlikely event that one is not readily available, she or he may suggest some other microbe that makes a similar product that can be converted to the desired one, or, better yet, your microbiologist friend will formulate some screen to select microbes and their mutants that can produce a whole family of similar products with potentially better properties than the one initially sought. The problem with most such candidate organisms is that they only make traces of the desired molecule and under conditions that may be difficult to implement on an industrial scale. These microbes must be improved before their potential can be realized. If you are similarly concerned about a particular disease you may want to know how a newly discovered gene, or some other gene(s) buried in the sequenced genome, can help discover a drug for the disease or define a strategy for gene therapy. The answer to these questions depends critically on how well we can characterize the physiological state of cells and tissues and use this information to prescribe the necessary genetic changes and/or environmental controls to improve such cells. This is also the goal and essence of metabolic engineering, the area of interest of Professor Gregory Stephanopoulos.

To achieve the above goal, the Stephanopoulos Laboratory makes use of state-of-the-art tools such as: DNA microarrays for transcriptional profiling; stable isotopic tracers, in conjunction with software for metabolic pathway reconstruction, for the determination of metabolic fluxes in bioreaction networks; and advanced bioinformatics methods for data mining and determination of discriminatory genes and characteristic gene expression patterns. Besides research carried out on further developing the above methods, the latter are also profitably deployed for the study and improvement of various systems of medical and biotechnological interest. Thus, we have investigated amino acid production in fermentations of Corynebacterium glutamicum where we succeeded in increasing the specific productivity of lysine threefold through the simultaneous amplification of two important genes. In collaboration with scientists from Merck & Co. we increased the yield of a key precursor in the manufacturing of the AIDS drug Crixivan® from 25 percent to better than 95 percent through metabolic engineering of the bioconversion pathway of this organism. Our methods allow us now to determine pathway fluxes in vivo at high resolution using advanced gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) instrumentation, identify important genes and their characteristic expression pattern associated with highly productive strains or the onset of disease, and deploy these tools for the modification of cells for industrial and medical applications.

Presently we are investigating the mechanisms of carbon dioxide fixation by photosynthetic cyanobacteria and its conversion to useful products, such as biopolymers. In particular, we are engineering strains that have enhanced capability for biopolymer production under the hypothesis that increased product formation will also lead to increased fixation of CO2. These improved cyanobacteria will thus be able to remove CO2 from the flue gases of power plants in shallow ponds and convert this greenhouse effect gas to a useful product that is also biodegradable. Another system under investigation is the metabolic pathways associated with diabetes and obesity. The novelty of our approach is that we take an integrated view of all pathways of relevance to this disease inflicting more than 15 million Americans. Specifically, while critical enzymatic reactions and pathways of importance to diabetes have been adequately described at the biochemical and genetic levels, our understanding of the integrated behavior of these pathways and the factors impacting flux distribution among such pathways is quite limited. As a result, there are many reasons that can lead to the same diabetic phenotype of hyperglycemia (i.e., elevated blood sugar concentration) but it is not possible to identify the specific causes of diabetes in a particular individual. Detecting such mechanisms for each individual would provide the basis for prescribing the right medication and also developing new drugs with better efficacy and broader applicability in the treatment of this disease. To this end, our methods of flux determination and transcriptional profiling are deployed along with bioinformatics tools in the study of cell culture model systems and in and animal experiments.

One such study, presently underway in collaboration with scientists from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), investigates the transcriptional profiles, hormonal levels and diabetic phenotype in diabetic-prone and normal mice under a variety of dietary conditions. As the diabetic phenotype develops in the course of this experiment, gene activity profiles are measured by DNA microarrays to determine those genes whose expression is altered as hyperglycemia develops. This type of information will provide powerful clues about the molecular mechanisms of hyperglycemia and help the discovery of effective drugs for the treatment of diabetes. 

return to top

Annual Seminars, Presentations, and Lectures

Thanks to the untiring efforts of Professors Bernhardt L. Trout and William H. Green, Jr., the fall and spring seminars were again quite successful and attracted academic and industry leaders from such esteemed institutions as our own MIT, Princeton, Yale, and Northwestern Universities, the Universities of Wisconsin at Madison and Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Technical University of Denmark, among a host of others, and highly respected industrial organizations such as Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, Genzyme Corporation, and Symyx Technologies, Inc.

The department is fortunate once again to have successfully presented its series of four annual major lectures: the 3d Frontiers in Biotechnology Lecture, delivered by George M. Whitesides, Mallinckrodt Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University, and the 16th Hoyt C. Hottel Lecture, delivered by Kevin O. Myers, the President and CEO of Phillips Alaska, Inc. in the fall term; and the 8th Alan S. Michaels Lecture, delivered by Henri Termeer, CEO of Genzyme Corporation and the 24th Warren K. Lewis Lecture, delivered by Ulrich "Ueli" W. Suter, Professor of Macromolecular Chemistry in the Department of Materials at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Zürich, Switzerland in the spring term. During the 2001–2002 academic year, a special lecture by the department's own Professor Gregory Stephanopoulos was delivered as part of his acceptance of and inauguration as the new Bayer professor of chemical engineering. The most recent holder of the named professorship prior to Professor Stephanopoulos was Professor Gregory J. McRae.

Departmental Awards

During the year just ended, the department awards ceremony took place on May 13, 2002 in the Gilliland Auditorium of the Ralph Landau Building. We are pleased to recognize this year's recipients of the Outstanding Faculty Awards—Professor E. Daniel Blankschtein, as chosen by the graduate students; and for the second year in a row, Dr. C. Michael Mohr was honored by the undergraduate students.

The Edward W. Merrill Outstanding Teaching Awards are conferred to two graduate students each year. The Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award was presented to third-year graduate student Kimberly Bryan-Kosto and the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award went to fifth-year graduate student Matthew Lazzara, both for their work in 10.302 Transport Processes.

Chemical Engineering Special Service Awards were conferred to the president of the Graduate Student Council, Jason Kralj, for overall distinguished service, and to Reuben Domike and Roger Aranow for service in organizing intramural sports. In addition, Reuben Domike was also awarded the "Chemical Engineering Rock" for outstanding athleticism. All third-year graduate students are required to present a seminar on the progress of their research and the two recipients of the award for outstanding seminar delivered were Geoffrey Moeser and Kevin Dorfman.

Our undergraduates also earned numerous accolades over the course of the year. In addition to winning the prestigious Barry S. Goldwater Award, Bradley D. Olsen also received the Dow Chemical Company Outstanding Junior Award for excellence in balancing academics, social and professional organizational commitments, and work experience. Rising seniors Bukola Aina and David Yin were each awarded a Merck Fellowship. The Robert T. Haslam Cup, which recognizes outstanding professional promise in chemical engineering, went to Hiroki Kaido; and finally, the Roger de Friez Hunneman Prize, the oldest prize in the department and is awarded to the undergraduate who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in both scholarship and research, went to K. Jaisel Vadgama.

The department is quite pleased to recognize Susan D. Lanza, assistant to Professors William H. Green, Jr., George Stephanopoulos, and Daniel I.C. Wang, as the department's outstanding employee of the year. Ms. Lanza was elected by her peers and the graduate students for having provided unrivaled dedication and outstanding service to faculty, staff, and students. Annie Fowler, the assistant in the Graduate Student Office, was awarded the Individual Accomplishment Citation for her dedication to the department and hard work on behalf of the graduate students.

The Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT has certainly had a very fruitful and rewarding year in 2001–2002 and is poised for even bigger and greater successes for the upcoming year.

Robert C. Armstrong, Department Head and Chevron Professor of Chemical Engineering
Karen K. Gleason, Executive Officer and Professor of Chemical Engineering

More information about the Department of Chemical Engineering can be found on the web at


return to top
Table of Contents