In the second installment of Meet the Summer 2020 RAPID Interns spotlight series, we are highlighting three of the students participating for Summer 2020. Scroll down to learn more about Gizem Ozbuyukkaya, a Fall 2020 Ph.D. candidate at University of Pittsburgh; K. Head, a Senior at Case Western Reserve University; and Zach Vandale, a Senior at University of Rhode Island.

Gizem Ozbuyukkaya

Gizem Ozbuyukkaya, a Fall 2020 Ph.D. candidate at University of Pittsburgh, is currently working on a project entitled "Intensified Commercial Scale Manufacture of Dispersant" in the Catalytic Reaction Engineering Group (Veser Lab). The project aims to explore ways to improve the efficiency of the oil additive succinimide production, moving from batch processing to continuous processing. Gizem's task is to derive robust kinetics for the continuous process, an important early step for enabling reactor design and scale-up. 

What are your career aspirations?

I aspire to continue working in a research and development setting, preferably in the pharmaceutical or chemical industry. I would hope to foster innovative thinking and problem solving towards improving chemical processes. 

What are your thoughts of the RAPID Intern Program so far?

I have enjoyed the RAPID Intern Program and I highly recommend it to any graduate student. I appreciated that the program provided technical training on process intensification and modular manufacturing, topics that are typically not covered in the chemical engineering curriculum. The program also included carefully curated webinars for professional development and leadership, which I believe will be immensely helpful for my career.

K. Head

K. is a senior at Case Western Reserve University and currently working on a project entitled "A Hybrid Optical Technology for Concentrate Management" as an intern with Chemstations.  K. works to translate a mathematical MATLAB model of an air gap membrane module into a model that can be used as a UnitOp in CHEMCAD simulation software. This would serve to improve the model using CHEMCAD’s rigorous property calculations.

What are your career aspirations?

My specialization in school under Chemical Engineering is computing, and I’ve found that the work projects I enjoy the most are the ones that involve programming, patterns, and logical system design. I hope to find a position where I can put those skills and passions to use in combination with my education and experience in chemical engineering.

What are your thoughts of the RAPID Intern Program so far?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the RAPID Intern Program. The opportunity to learn about PI has been invaluable, and I’m always happy to have another tool in my kit. The program has also allowed me to participate in a small community focused on learning and advancement, which has been an excellent experience. I’m so grateful that I’ve had the chance to take part in this program.

Zachary Vandale

Zach Vandale, a senior at University of Rhode Island, is  currently working on a project entitled "Scale Up of Continuous Flow Chemistry and Purification" as an intern at Nalas Engineering. Zach's Project tasks include a wide variety of duties ranging anywhere from writing procedures/revisions, equipment setup, or performing the experiment and documenting/interpreting the results. Within these tasks, suggestions are made towards changes that might help optimize the process to produce a more potent product and achieve a higher yield.

What are your career aspirations?

Since I was young, I’ve always had a passion for explosives and interesting reactions. I see myself sticking within the process engineering and scale-up field of chemical engineering although I am always open to explore new paths down the road if the offer is presented.

What are your thoughts of the RAPID Intern Program so far?

The RAPID program was a fantastic addition to my internship at Nalas this summer. Not only did it help polish my time management skills, but I learned so many new things about process intensification and safety that can be applied to every aspect of chemical engineering. Although I was stacked up with tasks and responsibilities from Nalas, finding the time to complete the RAPID program extended my knowledge and abilities within my chemical engineering practices. I believe the things I’ve learned, and the connections I’ve made, from this program will be vital to my future aspirations.


The RAPID Intern Program is an exciting opportunity for students working with RAPID members. It is a virtual PI leadership program which overlays on the work students are already doing at RAPID member organizations and provides students with PI leadership training and professional development skill-building opportunities like networking, career discovery, and public speaking/presenting. Click here for more information and to nominate a student.