Phillip Savage, the head of the Pennsylvania State Univ. (PSU) Dept. of Chemical Engineering, has had an impactful and prolific career. For the past 30 years, Savage has made great strides in green chemistry and industrial environmental research. This year, AIChE’s Environmental Div. awarded him the Lawrence K. Cecil Award, which is given in recognition of an individual’s outstanding chemical engineering contribution and achievements in the preservation or improvement of the environment.
Savage grew up in a small steel town in western Pennsylvania. He was interested in science and math from an early age, but he was also an active child, often playing pick-up basketball with the neighborhood kids. Savage’s father was a steel worker who began his career as a laborer at a mill and soon worked his way up into management. Both of Savage’s parents were very encouraging about education, particularly because neither had the opportunity to attend college.
“In a way, it was sort of the American dream for my parents,” Savage says. “My father was able to secure a job and standard of living to send his children to college, though he did not go himself. I can still recall sometimes my father...
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