Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering News

Alumni Excel in Academia, Research

Alumni Excel in Academia, Research

Three Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) alumni and former members of Fischell Department of Bioengineering (formerly ChBE) Professor and Chair William Bentley's research group have all recently been recognized as talented young professors and researchers. Matthew DeLisa (Ph.D. '00, who was also advised by ChBE Professor William Weigand for his M.S.), Ryan Gill (Ph.D. '99), and Andy Hu (Ph.D. '99) have all earned faculty positions at major universities as well as international awards for their achievements.

DeLisa is an assistant professor at Cornell University's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, where his research group engineers bacteria for the discovery, design and manufacture of therapeutic proteins, and for the reprogramming of cellular physiology. His "designer bacteria" and "reconfigurable protein machine systems" could solve a variety of problems in biology and medicine. DeLisa's work as a scientist and educator has earned him almost a dozen honors and awards since 2004, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2005), a National Academy of Sciences "Frontiers of Science" award (2005), a listing as one of Technology Review's Top 35 Innovators Under Age 35 (2005), a National Academy of Engineering "Frontiers of Engineering" award (2006), several Young Investigator awards, and Cornell's Mr. & Mrs. Richard F. Tucker '50 Excellence in Teaching Award (2007).

Gill is the Managing Director of the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels and an endowed Patten Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado. Currently, his research group develops and applies new genomics and evolutionary tools to engineering microbes for more efficient production of biofuels and biochemicals. Though always interested in a career in academia, he says, he also wanted to try building a startup company. Being faculty has given him the flexibility he needs to do so, and the company he has created, OpX Biotechnologies, focuses on biofuels and biorefining. In 2007, Gill was one of 12 recipients nationwide of the DuPont Young Professor Award, which will provide 3 years of funding to support his research.

Hu is a full professor at National Tsing Hua University, one of the most prestigious in Taiwan, where he studies gene therapy, tissue and cell engineering, vaccine development, and biomaterials. In May of 2007, Hu won one of Taiwan's Top Ten Young Persons Awards, conferred by the Taiwanese Parliament on ten exceptional citizens working in a variety of disciplines. Hu's award was for achievement in technology advancement. He was recognized for his work in developing a virus-like particle (VLP)-based vaccine for the enterovirus 71 (EV71), which can cause neurological complications and death in children; and for demonstrating the use of baculovirus-mediated gene therapy in facilitating cartilage and bone engineering.

We are very proud of our alumni and encourage everyone to keep in touch! Please send your alumni news to bioechemmse@umd.edu, or to your advisor, department chair, or former professors. You can keep your contact information with the Clark School and the University of Maryland up-to-date by visiting www.eng.umd.edu/alumni.

January 9, 2008


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