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.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

OU Researchers Develop Novel, Non-Invasive Cancer Therapy Using Targeted Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes

Norman, Okla.—A staggering 1.7 million persons in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in 2016, with 600,000 cases ending in death.  University of Oklahoma researchers have collaborated to design a novel, non-invasive cancer therapy that could eliminate tumors without affecting the healthy cells in the body.

The cancer therapy targets specific cancer cells using single-walled carbon nanotubes that bind directly to the tumor, then are heated with near-infrared light.  The OU photothermal therapy is most effective against shallow or surface tumors in breast, bladder, esophageal and melanoma cancers, without the adverse side effects of chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.

The therapy was created by Roger G. Harrison, Jr. and Daniel E. Resasco, professors in the School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering. Harrison is also affiliated with the Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering.  Harrison’s expertise is protein design, production and purification, while Resasco focuses on nanostructured materials based on single-walled carbon nanotubes.

“Single-walled carbon nanotubes are unique in that they strongly absorb near-infrared light in very narrow, but tunable, wavelength ranges, while biological systems have very low levels of absorption of near-infrared light,” said Harrison.  “The targeting of single-walled carbon nanotubes to tumors and subsequent localized application of near-infrared light allows the selective elimination of tumors.”

“Very few groups around the world are able to synthesize nanotubes which absorb light in a narrow range of wavelength,” said Resasco.  “We have a unique method of synthesis that produces single-wall nanotubes with a narrow distribution of diameters and carbon atom arrangements, which causes this selective light absorption in the near-infrared spectrum.”

The new OU photothermal therapy consists of single-walled carbon nanotubes of tailored absorption wavelength injected into the blood stream where proteins on the nanotubes selectively bind to blood vessels that supply a tumor.  Within 24 hours, a laser light is applied to the tumor causing the nanotubes to heat up, which causes the tumor to heat and be eliminated.  The photothermal therapy has been tested and proven in the laboratory.

The OU researchers already have one U.S. patent for this technology, and a second patent is nearing issuance.  The OU Office of Technology Development and the inventors are actively seeking licensees for this novel therapy to move to clinical trials.  For more information about this cancer therapy, contact Andrew Pollock, director of Business Development, at arpollock@ou.edu.

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Support for this research was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy under grant numbers DE-FG02-06ER64239 and DOE/EPSCOR DE SC0004600. 

Contact: Jana Smith, Director
Strategic Communications for R&D
University of Oklahoma

Friday, July 15, 2016

OU Study on Diversity of Microbial Groups Demonstrates the Effects Of Human-Caused Changes in Climate, Land Use and Other Factors

By Jana Smith, Director
Strategic Communications for R&D

Norman, Okla.—A University of Oklahoma-led research team has conducted a study on the diversity of microbial communities that demonstrates the effects of human-caused changes in climate, land use and other factors.  In this study, researchers show the diversity of soil bacteria, fungi and nitrogen-fixing bacteria all are better predicted by variation in environmental temperature rather than pH.

Jizhong Zhou, director of the Institute for Environmental Genomics and professor in the Department of Microbial and Plant Biology and School of Civil Environmental Sciences, OU Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Gallogly College of Engineering, leads the research project with assistance from the University of Arizona, The Santa Fe Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa and University of New Mexico.  Zhou is an affiliate of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Tsinghua University.

The significance of this research project follows:  (1) first demonstration that temperature plays a primary role in shaping microbial diversity in the forest soils; (2) first study to illustrate that metabolic theory of ecology is applicable to microbial communities; and (3) first study to reveal that temperature is important in regulating species diversity but it could operate in different ways between plants and microorganisms.


“Temperature mediates continental-scale diversity of microbes in forest soils,” was published in Nature Communications on July 5, 2016.  This research was supported by the National Science Foundation MacroSystems Biology program under the contract NSF EF-1065844, the OU Office of the Vice President for Research, the Collaborative Innovation Center for Regional Environmental Quality at the Tsinghua University and the National Science Foundation of China.