Monday, February 20, 2017

OU Professor Awarded Highest Recognition by Society for Mined Land Reclamation Work

University of Oklahoma Gallogly College of Engineering professor, Robert W. Nairn, is the recipient of the prestigious William T. Plass Award from the American Society of Mining and Reclamation. Nairn pioneered wetland technologies to rehabilitate contaminated water at the Tar Creek Superfund site where he has worked for almost 20 years. The award is the highest level of recognition given by the society in the field of mined land reclamation. Nairn transformed mine reclamation work at Tar Creek—one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s top abandoned hazardous waste sites.

“Professor Nairn’s scholarly work has had a huge impact in Oklahoma and around the world,” said OU President David L. Boren. “No one is more deserving of the Plass Award.”

Nairn, the Viersen Family Presidential Professor in the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science and the director of the Center for Restoration of Ecosystems and Watersheds, began working to clean up Tar Creek in the late nineties. In 2008, he and his team installed a full-scale passive water treatment system for the contaminated water discharging site near Commerce, Oklahoma. The system treats approximately 20 percent of mine drainage, rendering the treated water safe for discharge into the receiving stream. The success of this passive treatment system led to additional funding to extend the system to other discharge sites.

“It is with great pleasure that I share in the selection of Robert W. Nairn for the William T. Plass Award from the American Society of Mining and Reclamation. With this award, the society recognizes Nairn’s research, teaching and regional, national and international outreach. His career accomplishments in the field of mined land reclamation are huge and have impacted many people, including tribes, non-profits, regulatory agencies, industry and international governments,” said Randall L. Kolar, director of the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science.

Nairn’s work has received significant media attention over the years from local, state and national newspapers and broadcast news stations, as well as from the History Channel and Discovery Channel. In 2009, an award-winning documentary film featuring Nairn entitled “Tar Creek” was produced by Matt Myers and screened nationally and internationally. As testimony to his global impact, Nairn has expanded his mitigation work at one of the world’s oldest and largest silver mines in Potosi, Bolivia. His efforts have been widely recognized.

Previously, Nairn received the Richard I. and Lela M. Barnhisel Reclamation Researcher of the Year Award from the American Society of Mining and Reclamation for his work at Tar Creek in northeastern Oklahoma, the Arkoma Coal Basin of eastern Oklahoma, eastern Arkansas and Potosi, Bolivia. The award was given to individuals demonstrating substantive contributions to the advancement of reclamation science and technology through scientific research. Nairn was nominated for the award by his students and voted on by his peers in the society.

Contact: Jana Smith, Director
Strategic Communications for R&D
University of Oklahoma
Follow on Twitter @OUResearch

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

2016 Gallogly College Pursuit of Excellence Awards Given

Congratulations to the 2016 Gallogly College Pursuit of Excellence Award recipients! These awards were first given in 2015 to honor those who have regularly and unselfishly served our college with excellence in all they do and in motivating others. This year's recipients include Dane Schoelen (undergraduate student), Needa Virani (graduate student), Dr. Ed O'Rear (faculty) and Kristi Boren (staff).

Dr. Ed O'Rear was selected for his outstanding and pioneering research in surfactant science and biomedical engineering, his award-winning excellence in teaching and research, his many years of passionate service as director of the OU Bioengineering Center and his dedicated service to both the college and the university at large, including the arts.

Needa Virani was selected for her efforts as an outstanding graduate student, which she demonstrates both in the classroom and lab, as she pursues a doctorate degree in biomedical engineering with a research focus in cancer and nanomedicine. She serves as president of the student chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society, which she helped establish.

Dane Schoelen was recognized as an outstanding undergraduate student. An Oklahoma Regents' Scholar and mechanical engineering major, he has served the college as an engineering recruiter, mentor, and ambassador to K-12 students interested in studying in the STEM fields. Schoelen served a transformative role as project lead for the NASA Robo Ops team, who brought home a first-place win in June, besting seven other university teams, in addition to a team of professional engineers from NASA itself.

Kristi Boren was selected for her 13 years of selfless dedication to the college. She has always aspired and achieved excellence in her important role while managing to stay positive and encouraging to everyone she comes in contact with.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Daniel Resasco Named Inaugural Gallogly Chair

It is the great pleasure and honor of the School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering to announce that Dr. Daniel Resasco was named the Inaugural Gallogly Chair of the Gallogly College of Engineering this September, pending Regents’ approval in October. Resasco has served as a member of the CBME faculty since August of 1993 and currently holds the titles of the Douglas and Hilda Bourne Chair and the George Lynn Cross Professor of Engineering.

His list of achievements include but are not limited to more than 40 patents (the greatest number in the GCoE), more than 250 publications and an average of nearly $1 million per year in research funding for the past five years. He has served on the executive committee for the International Congress on Catalysis and as the associate editor of the Journal of Catalysis since 2001. He worked as the senior scientist at Sun Company, Inc., and is the founder of SouthWest Nanotechnologies, Inc.

Resasco is the winner of numerous awards including the Oklahoma Chemist of the Year from the American Chemical Society; the Big XII Rising Star Award from the Big XII Center for Economic Development, Innovation, and Commercialization; and was finalist for the Small Times US Innovator of the Year in 2007.

Resasco earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Universidad Nacional del Sur in Argentina and his Ph.D. from Yale University, teaching at several locations including the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata in Argentina, Yale University in the U.S., and Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, in addition to his service at the University of Oklahoma.

Resasco most recently was featured in the American Association for Applied Sciences EurekAlert! highlighting his joint work with fellow faculty member Roger Harrison on non-invasive cancer therapy utilizing near-infrared light and single-walled carbon nanotubes, which do not produce the adverse side effects of chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.

Resasco is an invaluable member of the CBME faculty and it is our pleasure to congratulate him on this appointment!

Introducing Keisha Walters to the CBME Team

The School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering welcomed its newest member, Keisha Walters, to the faculty starting this fall. The South Carolina native, the first of her family to graduate from college, grew up near Greenville and graduated with her B.S. degree from Clemson University. For a few years, she worked in industry as a chemist in the area of polymer additives alongside other chemists and chemical engineers in research and development labs and pilot plants before deciding to return to Clemson to complete her graduate degree.

Walters originally intended to study for her master's degree, but discovered she had “a passion for creative, open-ended research and innovation.” She chose instead to get her doctorate in chemical engineering because “it was interesting, combined my interest in chemistry and polymer materials, was challenging, and would allow me to work in a large number of different fields.” She intended to return to industry once completing her Ph.D. but instead found herself considering academia, joining the faculty in the Swalm School of Chemical Engineering at Mississippi State University and serving from 2005-2016 as the director of PolySEL: Polymer Science and Engineering Laboratory.

Walters' research covers a broad range of topics in polymer- and nano-based materials engineering, and transport modeling. Her research has been published in more than 80 refereed technical manuscripts and presented at numerous national and international conferences. Walters’ work also has been sponsored by government agencies including the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense and by industry partners.

Walters has served in several leadership positions including associate dean for Strategic Initiatives for the MSU College of Engineering, the focus area lead for several multi-institution research grants, and principal investigator for a number of research and equipment grants. She also serves as a board director for the Society of Plastics Engineers, Bioplastics Special Interest Group and has served as secretary of the Women in Engineering Division of the American Society of Engineering Education.

In addition to research, Walters’ commitment to a strong undergraduate and graduate teaching mission is part and parcel of who she is as both an educator and leader. She has received several awards highlighting her success at engaging students, and is heavily involved in STEM 'out-reach' to K-12 and community college students and ‘in-reach’ centered around undergraduate research and strategic professional development. In recognition of her efforts, Walters received the MSU Outstanding Woman Faculty Award (2012), Fahien Award from the American Society for Engineering Education (2012), and induction into MSU's engineering college Academy of Distinguished Teachers (2010). She currently is the Conoco-Dupont Professor of Chemical Engineering within the OU School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering.

Walters is an avid reader and gardener who is settling into Norman life after her move from Mississippi with her three children and husband Keith Walters, a faculty member in the OU School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. Walters spends her free time outdoors playing tennis, running and having fun with her family.

Welcome to the School of Chemical, Biological, and Materials Engineering Dr. Keisha Walters!

Bree Cooper Awarded Nicholas Chopey Scholarship

Late this summer, the Southwest Chemical Association named Bree Cooper the awardee of the Nicholas Chopey Scholarship at its annual Scholarship Luncheon in Houston.  The CBME Junior was the recipient of $4,000 for her essay explaining where she thinks she could make the greatest impact in the engineering industry and why her contributions would be important to the industry itself.

Cooper describes herself as being, “from one of those small towns where you know everyone…it has a population of about 1,600 and I graduated with about 50 other kids.”  Her interest in STEM was ironically encouraged by a lack of upper-level math and science courses in her high school.  Feeling that she was missing out on a bigger understanding of the world, she chose to attend the Oklahoma School of Science and Math’s satellite campus her Senior year of High School in order to take the more challenging classes.   

“It was an intense learning curve for me” she admits, jumping from algebra and basic chemistry to AP calculus and AP physics, but she “enjoyed this new abstract way of thinking.”  Cooper credits her parents for their encouragement and support in helping her get through the last two semesters of high school, “(they) helped me back up to try again, to get where I am today,” and also credits her teachers, Mr. Brown and Mrs. Butler, for introducing her to the field of engineering. 

Cooper decided to attend OU, “because I wanted to attend a college that no one else I graduated with went to.  I wanted to begin this new chapter of my life on my own and find out more about myself.”  In addition to her course load she is the Native Outreach Chair for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (the chapter currently ranks number one in the world.)  She originally heard about the Southwest Chemical Association scholarship from the CBME Undergraduate Programs Coordinator Madena McGinnis. 

When considering the essay topic: “As you work towards your graduation, where do you see your greatest impact being in the indI believe that my greatest impact will be on mentoring youth. I come from a very small town with not a lot of opportunities for upper science and technology careers. I'm a first generation college student, low-income, and Native American, so how I'm paying for college is my biggest worry every year. I beat so many obstacles to get here and I could've easily fell through the cracks of my small town like I saw so many of my family and friends do. I know I can relate to underrepresented youth and show them that you can achieve anything you want to as long as you have determination and hope.”

She writes passionately about encouraging Native Americans, women, and people who have struggled to achieve despite the odds in STEM career fields: “they bring to the table…different perspectives that these fields need.”

In regards to her own situation, winning the $4,000 Nicholas Chopey Scholarship has “helped immensely, since I take care of all (my own) monetary needs.”  Over the summer, Cooper was able to conduct research in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey, “I wouldn’t have been able to get the initial plane ticket without this scholarship.” 

Bree Cooper is currently pursuing a Computer Science minor in addition to her Chemical Engineering major, and will be graduating with the class of 2018.