Meet the Innovators: Transforming the Future through Chemical Engineering

Tuesday, November 12, 2019, 11:00am-12:30pm EST

Innovation has been, and will continue to be central to making large contributions to human development and for solving global problems.  This session will feature invited plenary talks from innovators who will present the role of chemical engineering innovation in transforming the world and assuring a sustainable future for the earth, as well as the role of society, corporations and governments in resourcing innovation.  These talks will be followed by a panel discussion with audience participation.

Session Chairs:

  • Venkat R. Bhethanabotla, University of South Florida
  • Richard B. Dickinson, NSF and University of Florida

Speakers Include:

  • Rakesh Agrawal, Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor, Davidson School of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University
  • Jay D. Keasling, Professor, University of California, Berkeley and Senior Faculty Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Christine E. Schmidt, PhD, Professor, J. Crayton Pruitt Family Chair & Department Chair, J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida

Supported by the generous donors of the AIChE® Foundation

Session Schedule:

Time Presentation Title Speaker
11:00am - 11:20am Chemical Engineering Innovations for a Renewable Economy Rakesh Agrawal, Purdue University
11:20am - 11:40am   Innovations in Synthetic Biology Jay D. Keasling, University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
11:40am - 12:00pm Engineering Materials for Clinical Application Christine E. Schmidt, University of Florida
1:00pm - 1:30pm Panel Discussion  

Abstracts

Chemical Engineering Innovations for a Renewable Economy

Rakesh Agrawal, Purdue University

Chemical engineering evolved in the twentieth century with rise in the use of fossil resources and myriad of products derived from then. An array of these products required great innovations and made huge impact on the human race, and such examples include urea, transportation fuels, polymers, water purification chemicals, etc. Going forward as we make transition from fossil resources to renewable resources such as solar energy, wind and sustainably available biomass, we again have great opportunities for innovation that would not only make great impact but redefine chemical engineering. My talk will focus on my own experiences with challenges and opportunities presented to us as chemical engineers. I will share an overall perspective on the use of biomass as sustainable source of carbon, harvesting solar energy in conjunction with growing food without any land constraint, and creating solution processed solar cells that utilize chemical engineering principles along with knowledge from other engineering disciplines.

Engineering Materials for Clinical Application

Christine E. Schmidt, The University of Florida

Dr. Schmidt's research has resulted in numerous patents that are licensed to companies, including AxoGen, Alafair Biosciences, Smith and Nephew, and Siluria Technologies.  Comments for this panel will focus on peripheral nerve applications and one key success that is the foundation for the Avance Nerve Graft from AxoGen. In addition, along the way to uncovering strategies for nerve regeneration, Dr. Schmidt and her team also discovered a biomaterials processing approach that led to a separate application of protecting tendon’s after surgery, resulting in the VersaWrap Tendon Protector from Alafair Biosciences, a start-up company in Austin, Texas.

Nerve Repair: Dr. Schmidt's technology for processing decellularized nerve tissue was licensed to AxoGen in Alachua, Florida (http://www.axogeninc.com) for the AVANCETM nerve graft. Many tens of thousands (~100,000) of AxoGen's AVANCETM grafts have been implanted in patients at hundreds of hospitals globally.

Post-surgical Wound Management: Using a novel in situ crystallization processing technique, Dr. Schmidt’s team created mechanically robust hyaluronic acid-based hydrogel films that can be easily handled, sutured, and delivered laparoscopically. This research is the basis of Alafair Biosciences, a start-up company in Austin, TX (http://www.alafairbiosciences.com), which is run by Dr. Schmidt’s PhD graduate and a neurosurgeon collaborator. Alafair’s first product, VersaWrapTM Tendon Protector, has been implanted in more than 500 patients since December 2017.

Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is the Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor in the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering at Purdue University. He received a B. Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, an M.Ch.E. from the University of Delaware and an Sc.D. in chemical engineering from MIT.

His research includes novel processes for the fabrication of low-cost thin-film solar cells, energy systems analysis, biomass to liquid fuel conversion, synthesis of efficient multicomponent separation processes using distillation, membranes and adsorption, and basic and...Read more

Jay Keasling

Jay Keasling is the Philomathia Professor of Alternative Energy at the University of California, Berkeley in the Departments of Bioengineering and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, senior faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Chief Executive Officer of the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). Dr. Keasling’s research focuses on the metabolic engineering of microorganisms for degradation of environmental contaminants or for environmentally friendly synthesis of drugs, chemicals, and fuels.Read more

Christine E. Schmidt, PhD

Christine E. Schmidt, Ph.D., is the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Professor and Department Chair for the University of Florida Department of Biomedical Engineering.Read more