Recognizing excellence

Engineering Honors and Awards Ceremony

Annual awards are given to recognize scholarship and outstanding service to the Department, College and University. These awards include the David Arthur Berman Memorial Award, the Russell Barch Memorial Award, and several American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) awards. The Clark School hosts a chapter of the Omega Chi Epsilon National Honor Society for chemical engineering, as well as a chapter of the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi.

The Annual ChBE Undergraduate Research Award

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering announces the annual award for excellence in ChBE undergraduate research. The deadline for nominations is January 15. Eligibility criteria and nomination guidelines are as follows:

Eligibility. Nominees should be undergraduates who are ChBE majors and/or have performed research in a ChBE research group. Therefore, both ChBE undergraduates who performed research in ChBE or non-ChBE labs, and non-ChBE undergraduates who performed research in ChBE labs are eligible to apply. The nomination should be for research performed during the previous academic year, i.e. nominees should have performed research by one of the following mechanisms:

  1. ChBE 468 (research for credit), taken for at least three credits spread over multiple semesters during the previous year;
  2. A Scholars Program for Industry-Oriented Research in Engineering (ASPIRE);
  3. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI);
  4. Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU);
  5. Louis-Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) in Research;
  6. Women in Engineering Research Program; or
  7. Any other University of Maryland or external research program.

Nomination guidelines. The nomination package for the award should consist of: (i) A letter of nomination from the nominator (research mentor) and (ii) A report of the research (single-spaced, two pages, inclusive of figures and references) written by the nominee. The nomination package should be submitted as a single PDF file to with CC to by 5:00 pm on January 15.

Contact. Please address any questions to

Past Winners

Benjamin Gastfriend worked in the lab of Professor Sriram in collaboration with graduate student Andrew Quinn and Professor Hutcheson from the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. Ben has been studying the metabolism of the saprophytic marine bacterium Saccharophagus degradans in order to develop nontrivial strategies to engineer this organism as a biofactory. S. degradans, discovered in the Chesapeake Bay in 1985, is a versatile and powerful degrader of complex carbohydrates, able to degrade several polysaccharides, including agarose, chitin, starch, cellulose, hemicelluloses, xylans, and whole plant biomass.

Jacob Piekarz worked in the lab of Professor Ehrman. Jacob's project involves developing a colloidal synthesis route for making copper nanoparticles with high electrical conductivity. Copper nanoparticles oxidize easily, both during preparation and storage. Therefore, synthesizing pure copper nano particles without an additional oxide layer forming is challenging. However, the addition of stabilizing agents has shown to reduce the oxide layer formation. In his work, Jacob developed facile synthesis route for pure copper nanoparticles in an aqueous solution.

Chris Boughter worked in the lab of Professor Klauda. Chris research involves biophysical characterization of lipid bilayers with cholesterol using MD simulations. In particular, he studied the effect of cholesterol on different lipid bilayers to better understand the condensing effect on bilayers with saturated versus unsaturated lipids. Chris' research concludes that increases in cholesterol concentration result in an increased order in liquid disordered bilayers while simultaneously promoting disorder in bilayers which normally form gels in pure phospholipid bilayers.

Shir Boger, a ChBE senior who tied for first place, studied erythrocyte (red blood cell) flow dynamics in Associate Professor Panos Dimitrakopoulos’ BioFluid Dynamics Laboratory. Her project involved the computational investigation of red blood cell dynamics in different “four-roll” mill flows. These linear flows exhibit different strength of extensional and rotational components, and filling a range from simple shear flow to pure extensional flow. Her results provide physical insight in the fundamental flow dynamics of erythrocytes, and can be used to explain the deformational behavior of these cells in the microcirculation, especially in micro-vessel bifurcations and junctions in local flows.

Erin K. Kreeger, a bioengineering major who tied with Boger for first place, is a junior and a Successful Engineering Education and Development Support (SEEDS) Fellow who worked in Assistant Professor Ganesh Sriram’s Metabolic Engineering Laboratory. Her research project, conducted in collaboration with ChBE graduate student Andrew Quinn, focused on the investigation of metabolic pathways in algae to determine how they might be engineered to produce advanced biofuels, chemicals, or their precursors. She investigated how the carbon routing in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum could be manipulated in order to improve the alga’s synthesis of the hydrocarbon isoprene, a reduced-carbon compound that is a precursor to biofuels, including true diesel.

Camila Saez, a senior who received the second place award, worked in Professor Srinivasa Raghavan’s Complex Fluids and Nanomaterials Group, where she studied the agglutination (clumping or clustering) of chitosan microparticles. In collaboration with ChBE graduate student Chanda Arya, she explored a way to induce agglutination among the microparticles with the addition of a polymer. The process was tailored to be very specific, only occurring if the polymer’s hydrophobic units were recognized by supramolecules on the surface of the chitosan microparticles. This is a concept that mimics the clotting of blood platelets in the presence of a protein called fibrin, and is being explored as a means of capturing tumor cells as they circulate through the bloodstream.

Senior Apoorv Gupta, who received the first place Undergraduate Research Award, worked in Fischell Department of Bioengineering professor and chair William Bentley's Molecular & Metabolic Engineering Laboratories. There, he was part of a team engaged in the study of quorum sensing, a cell-to-cell communication process that allows groups of single celled bacteria to act as multicellular entities, in some cases allowing them to become pathogenic. Gupta was the second author of a paper published in ACS Nano. His work with Bentley's group earned him a 2010 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Fellowship and a 2011-2012 Goldwater Scholarship.

Senior Margaret "Maggie" Simons, who received the second place Undergraduate Research Award, worked in ChBE assistant professor Ganesh Sriram's Metabolic Engineering Laboratory, where she studied the metabolic networks of poplar tree cells. The Sriram Group and their collaborators are investigating poplar for its potential as a viable, renewable biofuel crop. Most recently, Simons presented a poster of her work and co-authored a talk given by a senior group member at the 2011 national meeting of the AIChE. Her work was supported in part by a NSF-funded project focused on genome-scale studies of poplar, and was also funded in part by ASPIRE. ASPIRE, A Scholars Program for Industry-Oriented Research in Engineering, offers Clark School undergraduate students the opportunity to move beyond the classroom by working with faculty or staff on real-world engineering projects.