Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstract: Amongst the greatest challenges faced by modern society are the transition to sustainable technologies and the always-pressing need to develop healthcare solutions. Many of the proposed innovations to address these challenges require the ability to design materials with unprecedented structural and compositional control. Automation is emerging as a solution to provide controlled synthesis, processing, and assembly of polymer materials; combined with data science, these two tools are well-poised to accelerate the discovery and development of advanced materials. This talk will first discuss engineering strategies towards controlling polymer molecular weight, composition, and topology with a digital level of precision. Precision synthesis is achieved with an automated flow reactor and is demonstrated by the complete control over polymer molecular weight distribution shape, as well as the synthesis of shape-defined bottlebrush polymers. This work pushes the limits of molecular design and assembly, with applications as a nanostructured material for electronics, structural color, filtration, water purification, and energy storage. The second half of the talk will focus on the development of high throughput automation for polymer synthesis and the role of data science for polymer material discovery.
Bio: Dr. Dylan Walsh is an accomplished postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT. He works in the labs of Profs. Klavs Jensen and Brad Olsen, where he is currently focused on developing intelligent automated reactors for polymer synthesis. In addition, he is leading the development of CRIPT (Community Resource for Innovation in Polymer Technology), an open-source digital polymer ecosystem that serves as a community driven polymer database with cutting-edge cheminformatic tools. Prior to joining MIT, Dr. Walsh earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, under the supervision of Prof. Damien Guironnet. He was a DuPont Science and Engineering Fellow and a Dow Chemical Company Graduate Fellow during his graduate studies, where he developed engineering methods for precision synthesis and assembly of polymer materials. He also holds two degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, where his undergraduate research focused on the development of novel catalytic organometallic reactions.
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Elizabeth Edwards, University of Toronto
Host: Prof. Ramin Farnood
These are very exciting times in fundamental and applied environmental microbiology owing to significant advances in analytical tools and techniques to interrogate complex biological systems. These tools include affordable large-scale sequencing, quantitative DNA and RNA extraction and amplification tools, powerful microscopy, and proteomic analyses applicable to complex mixtures and small sample sizes. These techniques are enabling novel approaches and improved modelling to uncover fundamental metabolism, regulation, genetics, and interspecies metabolite transfer in complex microbial ecosystems. Specific applications related to my own research include biomethane production, wastewater treatment and surveillance, and soil and groundwater bioremediation. These processes rely on complex microbial communities that have defied traditional reductionist microbiological approaches. In this talk, I will discuss how combinations of modern genome-enabled tools have been used to monitor microbial communities and to decipher beneficial interactions in complex microbial consortia, whose activity is greater than the sum of their individual parts.
Dr. Elizabeth Edwards holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering from McGill University, Montreal, and a PhD degree (1993) in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. She is internationally known for her work on anaerobic bioremediation, the application of molecular biology and metagenomics to uncover novel microbial processes, and the transition of laboratory research into commercial practice to develop bioremediation and bioaugmentation strategies for groundwater pollutants. Dr. Edwards and her team were recognized with the 2009 NSERC Synergy Award for her highly successful partnership with Geosyntec, an international environmental consulting firm with whom she developed a microbial consortium called KB-1®. This commercially successful bioproduct marketed by SiREM labs in Guelph, ON, biodegrades two of the world’s most common and persistent groundwater pollutants, PCE (a common dry-cleaning agent) and TCE (a degreasing solvent), more quickly and at a lower cost than conventional methods. It has been used at over 700 sites around the world.
She is also the founding director of BioZone, a Centre for Applied Bioscience and Bioengineering Research at the University of Toronto and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Anaerobic Biotechnology. In 2016, she was awarded the Canada Council of the Arts Killam Prize in recognition of her outstanding career achievements and was appointed an Officer in the Order of Canada (Canada’s highest civilian honour) by the Canadian Governor General in 2020.
Josephine Hill, University of Calgary
Host: Prof. Cathy Chin
“What if waste wasn’t?” is a question that requires careful consideration. Although it appears attractive to convert waste into valuable products, the technical and economic feasibility of any conversion process must be carefully analyzed. Gasification is a process in which solids and liquids are converted to gases but unlike combustion, in which the products are carbon dioxide and water, the products are a mixture of mainly hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This mixture can be used to run an engine to produce power or chemically converted to make other fuels in a Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process. Contaminants in the waste may impact the gasification process by deactivating catalysts, which are substances that increase the rates of reaction, and/or forming species that damage the process equipment (e.g., through corrosion). The additional units required to remove the contaminants, either up- or downstream may make the process economically unfavourable, as may the cost to transport the feed and products. This presentation will discuss the various waste streams available in Canada, the potential technical challenges of using these streams, and the techno-economic analysis of a few scenarios.
Dr. Josephine Hill is a Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering of the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. She received her education and training at the University of Waterloo (BASc and MASc) and the University of Wisconsin–Madison (PhD) and worked for two years at Surface Science Western at the University of Western Ontario between her graduate degrees. Dr. Hill’s research is in the area of catalysis with applications to partial upgrading, gasification, and the conversion of solid waste materials, such as petroleum coke and biomass, into catalysts supports and activated carbon. She is currently the President of the Canadian Catalysis Foundation, the Vice-chair of the Chemical Institute of Canada, and an Editor of Applied Catalysis A: General. Her research and mentoring excellence have been recognized with many awards including the APEGA Research Excellence Summit Award, a Killam Annual Professorship, Engineers Canada Award for the Support of Women in the Engineering Profession, a Canada Research Chair, and the Canadian Catalysis Lectureship Award. She is a Fellow of The Engineering Institute of Canada, Chemical Institute of Canada, Canadian Academy of Engineering, and Engineers Canada.
Andreas Lendlein, University of Potsdam
Host: Prof. Frank Gu
Functionalization of materials aims at predetermining their behavior and fate in application relevant system environments. Various chemistry-based approaches are established such as covalent coupling of bioactive molecules to foster their interaction with cells or incorporation of easily cleavable bonds to gain degradability. The shape-memory effect is an example for a function, which can be implemented in polymers by physical manipulation. As this memory can be recalled, deleted or changed, this process is named programming. Morphologies of porous materials and geometrical arrangements in multimaterial systems can serve as design criteria for structural functions or dynamic behaviors as required for actuators. The targeted design of multifunctional polymeric materials will be illustrated for medical applications and sustainable products. A perspective on the potential of digital methods to predict the functional behavior of polymers, to support the design of devices and enable their fabrication will be given.
Dr. Andreas Lendlein received his doctoral degree in Material Science from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, Switzerland. His research interests comprise material functions by design and implementation of multifunctionality in polymer-based materials for bioinstructive implants, controlled drug release systems, healthcare technologies and soft robotics. Dr. Lendlein published 747 papers, is an inventor on 338 patents / patent applications, and received 23 awards for scientific and entrepreneurial achievements including 2022 MRS Communications Lecture Award. He is elected fellow of Materials Research Society (2021), American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2021) & Controlled Release Society (2020), founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Multifunctional Materials and serves on the Executive Advisory Board of Wiley-VCH´s Macromolecular Journals.
Marianthi Ierapetritou, University of Delaware
Host: Prof. Krishna Mahadevan
The growing concerns over global warming and environmental issues motivate the research on replacing oil-based feedstocks with biomass raw material for chemical and fuel production. This however comes with a number of challenges as the new technologies have to compete with the fossil based mature processes to ensure economic viability and market competitiveness. Moreover, life cycle analysis is not always in favor of the “green” solutions depending on the pathway explored.
Optimization of the biomass feed splitting among alternative pathways considering their economic and environmental impacts can be thus explored to discover the best available routes and determine the optimal mix of the value-added products. Hence, the integrated biorefinery is proposed to combine different conversion technologies and fully utilize all biomass components using the superstructure optimization framework. In addition to selecting the most economical and sustainable feedstock-technology-product combinations, the integrated biorefinery strategy can also include process flexibility to adjust its production in the volatile chemical market.
Acknowledging the increasing market competition, environmental concerns, and uncertainty in price and transportation times, there is a growing interest in achieving modularization, design standardization, and process intensification for biomass processing. The integration of modular designs within the existing supply chain could be challenging. Supply chain networks have become more prominent, complex, and difficult to manage, especially considering the multitude of risks and uncertainty that may manifest. In this talk, I will also touch upon the work in our group towards developing a supply chain model that aids decision-making addressing the complexities of a modular infrastructure and provide some ideas to deal with disruptions by considering both proactive and reactive strategies.
Marianthi Ierapetritou is the Bob and Jane Gore Centennial Chair Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at University of Delaware. Prior to that she has been a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at Rutgers University. During the last year at Rutgers University she led the efforts of the university advancing the careers in STEM for women at Rutgers as an Associate Vice President of the University.
Dr. Ierapetritou’s research focuses on the following areas: 1) process operations; (2) design and synthesis of flexible production systems with emphasis on pharmaceutical manufacturing; 3) energy and sustainability process modeling and operations; and 4) modeling of biopharmaceutical production. Her research is supported by several federal (FDA, NIH, NSF, ONR, NASA, DOE) and industrial (BMS, J&J, GSK, PSE, Bosch, Eli Lilly) grants.
Among her accomplishments are the appointment as the Gore Centennial Professor in 2019, the promotion to distinguished professor at Rutgers University in 2017, the 2016 Computing and Systems Technology (CAST) division Award in Computing in Chemical Engineering which is the highest distinction in the Systems area of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the Award of Division of Particulate Preparations and Design (PPD) of The Society of Powder Technology, Japan; the Outstanding Faculty Award at Rutgers; the Rutgers Board of Trustees Research Award for Scholarly Excellence; and the prestigious NSF CAREER award. She has served as a Consultant to the FDA under the Advisory Committee for Pharmaceutical Science and Clinical Pharmacology, elected as a fellow of AICHE and as a Director in the board of AIChE. She has more than 290 publications and has been an invited speaker to numerous national and international conferences.
Dr. Ierapetritou obtained her BS from The National Technical University in Athens, Greece, her PhD from Imperial College (London, UK) in 1995 and subsequently completed her post-doctoral research at Princeton University (Princeton, NJ).
Rizwan Yusufali, UNICEF
Host: Prof. Levente Diosady
From urban centers to remote corners of Earth, the depths of the oceans to space, humanity has always sought to transcend barriers, overcome challenges, and create opportunities that improve life on our part of the universe. One such challenge is securing good nutrition for the global population, many of whom have just a few dollars a day to secure a nutritious meal. Nutrition is a ‘Grand Challenge’ affecting the world’s most vulnerable populations and needs a multidisciplinary approach and a ‘new breed’ of Engineers that can transcend across multiple disciplines and apply their analytical and solution-oriented thinking. While Engineers have and continue to develop ingenious solutions and technologies to make food healthier and safer, global rates of malnutrition remain unacceptably high in many countries resulting in productivity losses, morbidity and mortality. The aim of my lecture is to share some of my experiences and perspectives that have enabled me to make a positive impact on nutrition with the hope that this may inspire engineering researchers and students to solve the world’s most stubborn problems.
Rizwan Yusufali is a Nutrition Specialist at UNICEF providing technical and advisory support on scaling up essential nutrition interventions with a specific focus on food fortification and food systems. Mr. Yusufali has held several positions in program management, operations and product development and has extensive experience in food fortification. Prior to joining UNICEF, Mr. Yusufali was the Regional Director for the Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods program at TechnoServe providing direction, leadership and technical support covering Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania. He has also worked for the World Food Programme (WFP), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Micronutrient Initiative (MI) managing programs in several countries across Africa and Asia. Mr. Yusufali has a Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto and has several publications on food fortification.
Harris Wang, Columbia University
Host: Prof. Chris Lawson
Microbes that live in soil are responsible for a variety of key decomposition and remediation activities in the biosphere. Microbes that colonize the gastrointestinal tract play important roles in host metabolism, immunity, and homeostasis. Better tools to study and alter these microbiomes are essential for unlocking their vast potential to improve human health and the environment. This talk will describe our recent efforts to develop next-generation tools to study and modify microbial communities. Specifically, I will discuss new platforms for automated microbial culturomics, techniques to genetically engineer complex microbial consortia and methods for biocontainment. These emerging capabilities provide a foundation to accelerate the development of microbiome-based products and therapies.
Harris Wang is an Associate Professor at Columbia University jointly appointed in the Department of Systems Biology and the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology. Dr. Wang received his B.S. degrees in Mathematics and Physics from MIT and his Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard University. His research group mainly develops enabling genomic technologies to characterize the mammalian gut microbiome and to engineer these microbes with the capacity to monitor and improve human health. Dr. Wang is an Investigator of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the recipient of numerous awards, including the Vilcek Prize or Creative Promise in Biomedical Science, NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, NSF CAREER, Sloan Research Fellowship, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from President Obama, which is “the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.”
Education in Engineering Lecture
Eric Kaler, Case Western Reserve University
Host: Prof. Krishna Mahadevan
I will describe the outcomes of a US National Academies (NA) study I chaired called “New Directions for Chemical Engineering.” As described by the NA Press, it “details a vision to guide chemical engineering research, innovation, and education over the next few decades. This report calls for new investments in U.S. chemical engineering and the interdisciplinary, cross-sector collaborations necessary to advance the societal goals of transitioning to a low-carbon energy system, ensuring our production and use of food and water is sustainable, developing medical advances and engineering solutions to health equity, and manufacturing with less waste and pollution. The report also calls for changes in chemical engineering education to ensure the next generation of chemical engineers is more diverse and equipped with the skills necessary to address the challenges ahead.
Eric W. Kaler is the president of Case Western Reserve University. He joined Case Western Reserve in July 2021 from the University of Minnesota, where he served as university president for eight years. An accomplished chemical engineer and visionary university leader, Kaler’s career in higher education spans more than 40 years. He has significant expertise in elevating research, expanding fundraising, forming collaborative partnerships, encouraging entrepreneurship, and advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion.
Kaler studies surfactant and colloid science and engineering. His work on these ‘complex fluids’ has implications for many processes and products, ranging from pharmaceutical formulations to personal care products to enhancing oil-field production. He has published over 200 papers and holds 10 U.S. Patents and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (2010). He was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2014) for his leadership in engineering and in higher education. He was a member of the inaugural class of the National Academy of Inventors (2012). He also is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society.
Born in Vermont, Kaler is a first-generation college graduate who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the California Institute of Technology and his PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota.
Maciek Antoniewicz, University of Michigan
Host: Prof. Chris Lawson
Syntrophy, or cross-feeding, is the co-existence of two or more microbes whereby one feeds off the products of the other. Recently, we have developed an integrated multi-scale flux modeling approach that allows us, for the first time, to dissect interactions in microbial communities using 13C tracers. Specifically, to quantify metabolism and identify cross-feeding interactions we have developed a compartmental multi-scale 13C metabolic flux analysis (13C-comMFA) approach that quantifies metabolic fluxes for multiple cell populations in microbial communities without separation of cells or proteins. In this presentation, I will illustrate our investigations of metabolic interactions between E. coli auxotrophs that are unable to grow on glucose in minimal medium by themselves, but can grow on glucose when cultured together. Using our novel 13C-comMFA flux analysis tool we have quantified metabolic interactions (i.e. metabolite cross-feeding) in four distinct synthetic E. coli co-cultures. We also applied adaptive laboratory evolution to elucidate how syntrophic interactions evolve and are strengthened through adaptive co-evolution of co-cultures. Overall, the methods we have developed for studying microbial communities enable a broad new area of investigations, allowing us and others to dissect complex microbial systems that are of significant importance in biology but cannot be investigated with current tools. More broadly, by better understanding syntrophic relationships at the genetic, molecular, cellular and systems levels we are generating new knowledge on microbial syntrophy that enables us to ensemble synergistic interactions in engineered microbial communities for novel applications.
Maciek R. Antoniewicz is a Full Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan. Dr. Antoniewicz earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering from Delft University of Technology (2000), and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2006). After graduating he performed post-doctoral research at the DuPont Company. Dr. Antoniewicz started as an Assistant Professor in 2007 at the University of Delaware and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2013 and to Full Professor in 2017. In 2019, Dr. Antoniewicz moved to the University of Michigan.
Dr. Antoniewicz is an expert and a pioneer in the field of 13C-metabolic flux analysis (13C-MFA). Dr. Antoniewicz has received many awards for his research accomplishments, including the DuPont Young Professor Award (2008), the James E. Bailey Young Investigator Award in Metabolic Engineering (2008), the NSF CAREER Award (2011), and the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Daniel I.C. Wang Award (2015). In 2018, Dr. Antoniewicz was elected as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). His current interests include elucidating syntrophic interactions in microbial communities, adaptive laboratory evolution, optimizing CHO cell cultures for therapeutic protein production, and metabolic engineering of microbes for enhanced utilization of renewable substrates for production of value-added chemicals.