2019 Election - Nominations

Election Voting Instructions - 2019 Executive Committee

The South Texas Section- American Institute of Chemical Engineers (STS-AIChE) needs your vote to determine who will  be on the Executive Committee for 2019.

To be elegible to vote, you must be an active member and have paid your dues for 2019 STS member dues or have been a dues paying 2018 member.  Please have your membership number available to complete the ballot.  Your membership number will serve as your personal identification number. You may obtain your member information by accessing your member account on the AIChE website ( or you may call the AIChE Customer Service toll-free at (800) 242-4363. 

To enable members to make informed selections for the STS-AIChE election, candidate profiles are provided below.  You may cast your ballot electronically by following the link in the 2019 elections emails you receive between January 29 and February 6.  Paper ballots will also be available at the February 7th Monthly Dinner Meeting. You may vote a maximum of once for this year's election (either electronically or by paper ballot).

Thank you for your participation! If you need additional assistance or have any questions regarding the election or voting process, please contact John Middleton by email at or call (281) 782-9644.  The STS-AIChE wants your vote to be counted!

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Chair- Elect

Candidate 1: Dr. Mayank Gupta

Dr. Mayank Gupta is the President & CEO of MEC Fuels & Chemicals. He is a co-founder of two companies and one nonprofit organization. Dr. Gupta previously served as a Director of the American Chemical Society-Greater Houston Section and an Alternate Councilor of the American Chemical Society-Louisville Section. Dr. Gupta has over 15 years of experience covering catalysis, reactor design, nanomaterials, electroplating, biomass conversion, desulfurization, CO2 capture, and pulp & paper. Dr. Gupta received his master’s and doctorate degrees in chemical engineering from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA. He also holds a master’s degree in paper science and engineering from University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA. He received his bachelor’s degree in pulp and paper engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee in India.

Statement: STS’s vision is to serve chemical engineering professionals in the South Texas region through education, professional development, and networking. I strongly support its vision and if elected, I plan to accomplish this by working with all board members and carrying out various activities including:

  • Increase involvement/engagement of members with the section
  • Support and enhance the effectiveness of current programs
  • Market to increase visibility of the section locally, nationally, and globally
  • Collaborate/partner with academia, scientific societies, and industry

Please feel free to call me at 713-791-3454 or email me at if you have any questions or need any additional information.

Candidate 2: Mark S. Harkness, P.E.

I have had a fun and diverse career, starting with Stauffer Chemical Company in 1980 (Mobile, Alabama).  Like many Chemical Engineers, I began as a Process Engineer.  After several years in various assignments, and a stint with Brown and Root as a Project Engineer, I moved to Texas in 1988, joining Amoco Chemical Company.  From Amoco, I moved to Merichem Company, where I built a feedstock cracking unit.  After completing the project, I moved to Lyondell Petrochemical in 1992 to work in their Polymers business. 

At Lyondell, I worked in Product Development and Marketing, where I was assigned to the project team to develop a dyeable polyolefin resin.  I then worked in polypropylene operations, where I led a successful startup of a plant debottleneck project.  When Lyondell created its Equistar merger with Millennium Chemical, I was assigned to the integration team, where I worked with the systems to create all the business reporting for Polymers Sales and Marketing.  After the SAP startup, I moved in to Polymers Sales, where I had the chance to work in both Distribution and Direct Sales.  I obtained my MBA at the University of Houston – Clear Lake during my tenures with Merichem and Lyondell.

In 2002, I made a career change that led me into working with our most valuable resource – Water.  I went to work for Layne Christensen Company, a large water resources construction company, where I worked in management and business development.  These experiences led me to start my own company in 2017, where I provide engineering services and solutions for clients in the municipal and industrial sectors.   It has also afforded me the flexibility for some volunteer work, where I have worked as a Mentor with Engineers Without Borders. I have been a judge at the Houston Science and Engineering Fair for several years, and have been associated with the Texas Water Utilities Association for several years in leadership and training roles.

As Chair-Elect of the South Texas Section, I will support our 2019 Chair Mr. Tom Rehm, to achieve successful implementation of all STS programs, ensuring that the South Texas Section remains the premier section of AIChE.  Chemical Engineers can provide solutions to many of the problems we face today, and I believe that we can participate in a broad variety of fields to enable these solutions.  Thank you for the opportunity to run for the Chair-Elect position, and I would be delighted to serve the South Texas Section.


Candidate 1: Yurika Díaz Bialowas

Yurika Díaz Bialowas is a Senior Technical Support Engineer at Chemstations Inc, where she troubleshoots simulations using CHEMCAD Suite software, provides support to clients’ needs regarding engineering principals, process simulation, heat transfer, thermodynamics, installation and licensing. Yurika earned her BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She has been an active member of AIChE since 2009.

Yurika is the current STS-AIChE Treasurer, through her term she has work closely with all board committee members and listening to STS members concerns and requests. Through the past two years, she has implemented changes, a few of her accomplishment are listed below.

  • Updated the registration system to an online and onsite system that makes registration easier. Our members and guest may enter their information and select a form of payment with ease.
  • Implemented a new internal invoice system which makes it easier to track income and expenses, our vendors are invoiced via email, this minimizes paper and assures that the correct vendor has received the invoice.
  • Worked along with the Chair and Chair Elect to select suitable venue locations to cater all members across the Houston area.

If elected, I would like to continue being of help and work closely together with every board member; I would like to continue addressing the logistic hurdles for events so that board members may continue their focus in obtaining sponsorship, speakers, and special events guests. I will continue to promote transparency across all committees, continue to strive for excellence, and manage STS-AIChE budget with the utmost care.

It has been a pleasure working with every member of the board and to serve STS-AIChE members through the past two years. I look forward to continuing to serve and represent STS-AIChE.

Candidate 2: David Silarski

During the twenty plus years that I have been active in the South Texas Section of AIChE, my main concern has been the needs of its members.  This is a huge challenge due to the diversity of the Section’s membership and the large geographical area that the Section covers.  Much has been done to fulfill the STS members’ needs:  CEO, Young Members & Regional Meetings, Safety Symposiums, professional development programs including workshops and technical symposiums, website, and electronic newsletters.   I want to continue improving the activities of the section, including better communication and organization, while being mindful of the cost - benefit relationships.  The goal is to make the South Texas Section more relevant to the membership and recruit new graduates. 

I am a Lifetime Member of AIChE and have been active as your 2008 Chair.  I wish to continue my guidance as your Treasurer.  I was active in the local section in Philadelphia and Corpus Christi before moving to Houston.   During my years in the South Texas section, I have served as 2008 Chair, co-founder of SPTC, was monthly meeting door-person, Spring National Meeting General Arrangements Committee Chair, Regional and Young Member Committee Chair, Process Forum meeting Organizer and now Co-Chair for the Diamond Jubilee as well as current STS local Membership Chair.  Now, having more schedule flexibility, I can again devote more time to the Section and I would be honored to represent the section as treasurer for 2019.   

I have Bachelor and Masters of Chemical Engineering degrees from the Purdue University.  I have been employed by several refining, petrochemical, and chemical companies.  I am a founder and past Vice-President of the Gulf Coast GTOs, was Treasurer of Houston Purdue University Alumni Club and past treasurer of the Gulf Coast Tau Beta Pi Alumni chapter.  I am also a Registered Professional Engineer.

Position 1 - Education

Candidate 1: Babak Rafienia


Position 3 - Communications

Candidate 1: Aniket Patankar