New chair named to Department of Chemical Engineering
C. W. LaPierre Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Missouri Baolin Deng has been named chairman of the Department of Chemical Engineering.
“I have a lot of common research interests with the chemical engineering faculty,” said Deng who received his undergraduate degree in applied chemistry and master’s degree in geochemistry from China, and then earned his doctorate in environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University, Maryland. Prior to coming to the University of Missouri in 2001, Deng was on the faculty of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
“I’ve been in chemical engineering a couple of weeks, and I’ve learned a lot. We are a small department, but we have a young and dynamic faculty doing cutting-edge research in the areas of energy and materials,” said Deng. “There are challenges, but those challenges are also opportunities.”
Deng considers the department’s undergraduate students as a great strength, noting that chemical engineering students’ national test scores are some of the highest in the College of Engineering. “We continue to innovate to provide best learning experience for students, and students are competitive in the job market. Their start-up salary is among the highest for any engineering disciplines,” said Deng.
“Overall, our graduate and research program is not as large as we would like it to be, but we have a good foundation to grow that program, and have faculty members who are working very hard to do so,” Deng said.
“We have strong alumni support, too. Robert Holtsmith, one of the alumni from of our industrial advisory board has started the Robert and Dorcas Holtsmith Graduate Student Scholarship Fund to provide scholarship support for some of the high caliber graduate students,” Deng said. “It’s really great that these board members come from all over the United States to better understand the department, to support and advise us, and even to help us identify funding resources.”
Deng is especially pleased that one of the University’s new strategic initiatives is sustainable energy, which fits nicely with the research of the chemical engineering faculty, as well as his own environmental research focus.
“We have several working in the area of nuclear energy, including past interim chair John Gahl and Patrick Pinhero. Galen Suppes has written a book, “Sustainable Nuclear Power,” and also has research using glycerin to make biodiesel. Matt Bernards and Pinar Akcora are working in biomaterials.”
Deng’s own research involves synthesizing nanomaterials for contaminate sorption and removal, and capturing sunlight for waste degradation. His group is also developing membranes for water filtration and has just published a paper on the topic.
“We would eventually like more faculty members in the department to create a critical mass for collaborative research,” said Deng. “There are many interdisciplinary opportunities to build on the program. It’s really exciting.”