Joan F. Brennecke is the Keating-Crawford Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame and Director of the Notre Dame Energy Center. She joined Notre Dame after completing her Ph.D. and M.S. (1989 and 1987) degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her B. S. at the University of Texas at Austin (1984).
Her research interests are primarily in the development of less environmentally harmful solvents. In particular, her research has focused on studies of supercritical fluids, including supercritical CO2 and supercritical water. She was awarded the 2001 Ipatieff Prize from the American Chemical Society in recognition of her pioneering high pressure studies of the local structure of supercritical fluid solutions and the effect of this local structure on the rates of homogeneous reactions. Much of her current research involves ionic liquids, which are organic salts that are liquid at temperatures around ambient. These salts have received tremendous recent attention as potential substitutes for volatile organic solvents since the ionic liquids are non-volatile and, thus, cannot contribute to air pollution. In developing these solvents, Dr. Brennecke’s primary interests are in the measurement and modeling of thermodynamics, thermophysical properties, phase behavior and separations. She was awarded the 2006 Professional Progress Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in recognition of her ionic liquids research and received the J. M. Prausnitz Award at the Eleventh International Conference on Properties and Phase Equilibria in Greece in May, 2007. A more recent recognition of her work is the 2008 Stieglitz Award from the American Chemical Society.
Dr. Brennecke is the recipient of a 1991 Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, the 1998 University of Notre Dame Presidential Award, and the College of Engineering’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year (2000) and Kaneb Teaching (2002) awards. She has served on the Editorial Advisory Boards of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, the Journal of Chemical and Engineering Data, Green Chemistry and the Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics. She also serves on the Governing Board of the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund and has served on the Governing Board of the Council for Chemical Research (Chair for 2007), the National Science Foundation Advisory Committees for Engineering and Environmental Research and Education, and the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute Governing Board. She chaired the 7th International Symposium on Supercritical Fluids in 2005 and ran a Council for Chemical Research NIChE conference on ionic liquids that same year. She has co-authored more than 120 scientific and technical articles.