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Spring 2004


Dean's Desk

News from Chemical Engineering

News from Chemistry

Commencement 2004

Alumni Relations

Alumni Association News

Class Notes

Alumnus Profile: David Soane

Alumni Questionnaire

Faculty Highlights

RNA Research in the College

Update on BP Collaboration

Life on Mars: Mathies

Chakraborty and Alivisatos honored

Faculty Profile: Robert Harris

Faculty Profile: Clayton Heathcock

King and Prausnitz retiring

College and Campus News

University Updates

Berkeley Newscenter




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Chemical Engineering News
by Arup Chakraborty, Chair

Continuing Our Mission


Chair Arup Chakraborty

I would like to share the news that, for the first time, your Department of Chemical Engineering at Berkeley is ranked # 1 in the country in the latest rankings of various programs published in U.S. News and World Report. (While this is the first time it is ranked #1, the department is consistently in the top three, so it’s not unexpected.) This is a testament to the success of our faculty and alumni in industry, academia, and government service, and our continued dedication to the twin missions of teaching and research.

But don’t worry, we won’t rest on our laurels. Our graduate students, faculty and staff have just spent a considerable amount of time and effort recruiting the best undergraduate students to our graduate program. As usual, we were very successful this year, and twenty of the best and brightest young women and men will join our graduate program in the fall.

Giving students industry connections
In previous columns, I have mentioned our plans to initiate a product development component to the graduate program, which involves close interactions between industry and our graduate students. I am pleased to inform you that the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation has provided us with seed monies to establish such a program. Jud King, who recently retired and returned to the department after years of distinguished service to the campus and the university, and Doug Clark will lead our effort to integrate this new component in to the graduate program. We would be delighted if you would share your thoughts and insights regarding how this new initiative should be structured.

Faculty news
We have some exciting news regarding our faculty positions. Jean Fréchet now has a dual appointment with both chemistry and chemical engineering, the second faculty member (with me being the first) in the college to have such an arrangement. Fréchet is a member of both the NAS and the NAE and does organic chemistry on the nanometer scale with macromolecules. We are delighted to have him join us. (Jean Fréchet's homepage)

Additionally, we are currently recruiting for two open faculty positions. One position is at the junior level, and our search is focused on a person carrying out computational work aimed toward understanding biological or electrochemical systems. The second position is for a senior person for the Hubbard Howe Distinguished Professorship in Biochemical Engineering. We hope to have candidates wooed and signed by mid-summer, and I will update you about this in the next issue.

Wilke’s passing
On a sad note, Charles R. Wilke passed away last year. Wilke, a professor emeritus, was instrumental in establishing the standards of excellence that characterize our department, serving as our first chair. Former students and colleagues from all over the world gathered in Berkeley in November 2003 to pay tribute to his accomplishments. I am pleased to say that, thanks to Charlie’s former students and colleagues and a bequest from Charlie himself, the Charles R. Wilke Professorship will be established on July 1, 2004. (In memoriam)

Awards and honors
Our faculty members continue to receive honors recognizing their contributions to the discipline.

  • Doug Clark received the NORCAL award for Distinguished Industrial Research from the Northern California Chapter of the AIChE. (Clark website)
  • Alex Katz won the Council of International Association of Catalysis Societies’ Young Scientist Award and a 3M Untenured Faculty Award. He also was voted “Teacher of the Year” in the department, selected by chemical engineering students, and will receive the award at commencement. (Katz website)
  • Jay Keasling has been appointed head of the new Synthetic Biology Department at LBNL, and his work on engineering microbial metabolisms for bioremediation was mentioned in a Technology Review article on the top ten emerging technologies that will change your world. (Keasling website)
  • John Prausnitz received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the University of Padua (Prausnitz website)

Effects of the Budget Crisis
I am sure you have all read and heard about the rather severe budget crisis that the state of California is currently confronting. The campus has had to bear its share of budget cuts. From the standpoint of our department, the two most serious consequences are the steep rise in tuitions and setbacks to maintaining high quality infrastructure. During these challenging times, we continue to count on support from alumni and friends in order to maintain the excellence of the academic programs.

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