Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sabatini to Receive International Service Award

A University of Oklahoma professor, David A. Sabatini, has been selected to receive the 2017 International Association of Hydrogeologists, U.S. National Chapter’s International Service Award for his many years of promoting sustainable water resources projects in developing and impoverished countries, particularly through the creation of the OU Water Technologies for Emerging Regions Center. Sabatini has shown outstanding commitment to the international community and its groundwater needs.

“This award is well-deserved and reflects the international stature of Professor David Sabatini in his field,” said OU President David L. Boren. “No one has done more to help develop safe water for those who desperately need it. The OU family is very grateful to Dr. Sabatini.”

Sabatini, David Ross Boyd Professor and Sun Oil Company Endowed Chair of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science in the Gallogly College of Engineering, is being recognized as director of the OU Water Center and for his career-long commitment to improving the lives of others through the development of water technologies. He will receive the prestigious service award at the 2017 Geological Society of America’s annual meeting in Seattle on Oct. 24.

Sabatini founded the OU Water Center in 2006 to promote peace by advancing health, education and economic development through sustainable water and sanitation solutions for impoverished regions. As the organization’s director, he has been integral in the success of the center and the biennial International Water Conference, which is designed to bring together participants from multiple disciplines worldwide in response to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of bringing water and sanitation to emerging global regions.

Sabatini has vast experience in Water Technologies for Emerging Regions, including integrating culture/behavior, business/supply chain, and technology in pursuit of sustainable solutions. His other research interests include groundwater quality management fate and transport of pollutants in the groundwater environment, surfactant-based technologies for expediting remediation of subsurface contamination use of passive treatment; and water and wastewater treatment, which is the treatment and/or recovery of municipal and industrial water and wastewater streams utilizing physiochemical systems with an emphasis on surfactant-contaminant separation and surfactant reuse.

Among other outstanding awards Sabatini has received throughout his career are the Steven K. Dentel Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors Award for Global Outreach; the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence; the David L. Boren Award for Outstanding Global Engagement for the University of Oklahoma; the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Illinois Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Association; the Gallogly College of Engineering Pursuit of Excellence Award; and the Water Environment Federation Award of Merit for Work in Developing Countries.
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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bymasters give back with endowed scholarship

From left: Development Officer Stephanie Buettner, Kristin
and Adam Bymaster and Dean Tom Landers
Adam and Kristin Bymaster, 2004 CBME graduates, have established the Bymaster Endowed Scholarship taking advantage of ExxonMobil’s matching gift program for employees. Recently, we had the opportunity to ask the Bymasters about their time at OU, their careers with ExxonMobil and why they chose an endowed scholarship as the vehicle for giving back to the University of Oklahoma. 

How did you (Kristin) arrive at your current role at ExxonMobil?My career began with three internships at ExxonMobil, which were found using OU’s Career Services department and through OU’s Minority Engineering Program. Upon completion of my bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, I was hired full-time by ExxonMobil in May of 2004. I have held multiple positions, beginning as an offshore facilities engineer and progressing into various technical leadership roles for assets across the United States. In 2013, I moved to XTO Energy (an ExxonMobil subsidiary) as a Business Development analyst. My current role is Midstream Engineering Manager for East Texas, South Texas, and Appalachia.

Did Adam take a similar path? Adam completed his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at OU in May of 2004, and subsequently pursued a graduate degree as a PhD candidate at Rice University in Houston, Texas. His undergraduate training proved to provide the strong foundation required in a competitive graduate program. Upon completion of his PhD in 2009, Adam began his ExxonMobil career at the Upstream Research Company, where he led the development and deployment of new technologies and processes to capture deepwater resources, and also published various papers and patents in the areas of subsea processing technology. In 2013, he moved to XTO Energy (an ExxonMobil subsidiary) as a senior advisor in the Engineering Technical Services Group, providing support across the United States, Canada, and Argentina for various complex facilities. His current role is a senior midstream engineer and he rotates to Argentina. His responsibilities include designing and managing construction for start-up facilities including pipelines and plants.

Did you know what career path you wanted to take while at OU?No. Originally, we both were leaning towards the medical field. We both chose Chemical Engineering because of the employment flexibility in various industries (oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, medical, etc.). Adam even went so far as to complete the pre-med degree option and take the MCAT. However, we felt the oil and gas industry was more geared towards our family lifestyle (work-life balance preferences) and our technical interests. Our internships were also an important step in making the decision to work in the oil and gas industry, including Kristen’s oil and gas internships and Adam’s internships across various industries (i.e. materials/chemicals engineering, oil and gas, and academia).

What motivated you to make your gift? We both benefited from scholarships at OU and might not have been able to attend otherwise. Kristen benefitted from the National Merit Scholarship and the Rita H. Lottinville Prize. Adam worked on campus part-time during his first year at OU at the Cate Center, giving him an appreciation in the later years when his scholarships fully-funded his tuition and he was able to solely focus on classes. Adam benefitted from the Sam A. Wilson Chemical Engineering Scholarship, International School of Hydrocarbon Measurements Scholarship, Robert C. Thomas-Tenneco Energy Scholarship, ChevronPhillips Mentor Scholarship, and the Valedictorian Scholarship. It is important for us to give the same opportunity to other students, and ExxonMobil’s 3 to 1 match provides a great way to make our donations go even further. We encourage others to check their employer’s matching gift program and take advantage of this wonderful benefit.

Can you give us some details about the scholarship and setting up the endowment?We knew we wanted to give to the CBME, but we weren’t sure how to make the best use of our donation or company match. We were put in touch with Brandon Brooks and later Stephanie Buettner, who worked with us to ensure our gift was being used in a way that met our intentions. They took the lead in setting-up the scholarship and made the entire process very easy for us. Also, we weren’t required to fund the scholarship all at once; we could set-up a payment schedule to allow us to fund it over time, with assistance from our company’s matching gift.

The Bymaster Endowed Scholarship will be ready to award in the year 2020. To qualify, applicants must be full-time students in the CBME program with a minimum 3.25 GPA. Dr. Grady, as the Chair of the Scholarship Selection Committee, will determine the amount and number of scholarships given each year. We will receive a report each year detailing the recipient(s), and we hope to be able to meet them personally.

What are some of your dreams or goals in establishing the endowment? We hope to pay our gratitude forward by assisting deserving, hard-working students with their educational expenses, allowing them to focus on studies and classes. We are excited to play a role in impacting our university’s state-of-the-art programs and recognize talented students.

It is important to us to remain connected to the University. We have a great appreciation for our degrees and feel we were well-prepared to enter the competitive workforce upon graduation. We have had the privilege of attending a past CBME board meeting and networking with other donors and alumni, and we hope to continue in similar roles. We are members of the Felgar Society and make an annual donation to that program as well. Kristen has been a part of the ExxonMobil / XTO Energy campus recruiting teams, searching for prospective interns and full-time hires. We are also football season ticket holders and enjoy traveling to Norman to attend the home games with our three children and extended family.
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CBME Alumnae receive AIChE 35 Under 35 Award

Ashlee Ford Versypt and Kendall Werts, OU CBME alumnae, are among the recipients of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) 35 Under 35 Award.  An initiative of AIChE’s Young Professionals Committee, with support from the AIChE Foundation, the AIChE 35 Under 35 Award was created to acknowledge the early-career successes of some of AIChE’s youngest members, all under the age of 35, and to promote the accomplishments of the new generation of chemical engineers. The award winners were selected based on their achievements in one of seven categories: bioengineering, chemicals, education, energy, innovation, leadership, and safety.

Ashlee Ford Versypt, is an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Oklahoma State University and a member of the OKChE Advisory Board.  Dr. Ford Versypt directs the Systems Biomedicine & Pharmaceutics research laboratory at the intersection of chemical engineering, computational science and engineering, applied mathematics, biomedical science, and pharmaceutical science.  She has advised 15 undergraduate research students and three graduate research assistants and teaches process controls, reaction engineering, and an elective on scientific computing.  In addition, she has been honored with the CEAT Excellent Teacher Award, Outstanding Poster Presentation Award, New York Academy of Sciences Symposium on Chronic Kidney Disease, and more.

Kendall Werts works in the safety and health compliance group of Linde Gas, where she ensures that all North and South American plants are compliant with regulatory and corporate safety and health programs. She is an active AIChE member and serves as a Technical Steering Committee member for the Center for Chemical Process Safety. In addition, Kendall serves as vice president and chair for the Loss Prevention Committee, where she organizes the 11a track at the Global Congress on Process Safety. Among her awards is the Linde Engineering Mentorship Program Award.

In congratulating the honorees, AIChE Executive Director June Wispelwey said, “the winners exemplify the best of our profession, and represent the breadth and diversity of chemical engineering career paths and practitioners.”

AIChE announced the recipients in the August 2017 issue of its flagship magazine Chemical Engineering Progress (CEP), and are profiled online in AIChE’s ChEnected blog (www.aiche.org/chenected).  A 35 Under 35 Award reception will be held at the 2017 AIChE Annual Meeting, October 29 – November 3, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Organizations and non-members of AIChE may purchase copies of the August 2017 issue of CEP containing the 35 Under 35 Award winners by contacting AIChE Customer Service at 800-242-4363 (outside the U.S., 203-702-7660) or customerservice@aiche.org.



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Steven Crossley receives NSF Early CAREER Award

OU CBME associate professor, Steven P. Crossley, Sam A. Wilson Professor and Roger and Sherry Teigen Presidential Professor, is the recipient of a five-year, National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award in the amount of $548,829 for research that can be used to understand catalysts that are important for a broad range of chemical reactions ranging from the production of renewable fuels and chemicals for natural gas processing. The research will be integrated with educational and outreach programs intended for American Indian students, emphasizing the importance of sustainable energy.

“The NSF CAREER award is partly in recognition of the important work that Steve has already done in the field of catalysis. It is one of the highest honors a young faculty member can receive. We look forward to him doing great things in the future,” said Brian P. Grady, CBME director.

Crossley is also a faculty mentor for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. The project entitled, “SusChEM:CAREER:Using unique synthesis techniques and reaction kinetics to quantify and manipulate catalytically active sites in metal-reducible oxide systems,” will provide a detailed understanding of active sites and atom transfer processes involved in catalytic conversion of bio-oil molecules derived from biomass.

“We are proposing a new method to quantify the role of different catalytically active sites under harsh reaction conditions that are commonly challenging to decouple. Our findings should help to clarify confusion in the literature while providing valuable information necessary for improved catalyst design,” said Crossley.

Biomass conversion processes typically create a broad range of oxygenated intermediates that are treated further by catalytic processes to remove excess oxygen and build longer chain hydrocarbons attractive as fuel components and chemical intermediates. The efficient conversion requires multifunctional catalysts—typically composed of metal and metal oxide active sites—capable of several simultaneous or sequential reaction steps. While it is well understood that different types of active sites are required for different reactions, the exact nature of those sites and their ideal proximity is not known.


This study will examine those factors by decoupling metal sites from reducible metal oxide sites using carbon nanotube bridges as hydrogen shuttles. By eliminating direct contact between the metal and metal oxide components, and by varying the metal-metal oxide spacing along the carbon nanotubes, the study will provide an opportunity to examine independently two important aspects of bifunctional catalysis on reducible metal oxides: metal-support interactions and hydrogen spillover effects vary with different types of molecules common to biomass deconstruction processes. For more information on the study, contact Crossley at stevencrossley@ou.edu.

Roger G. Harrison, Jr. inducted into Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame

The Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage Society will honor Dr. Roger Harrison, Jr. at a dinner and induction ceremony, October 30, 2017, in the Nigh Center on the University of Central Oklahoma campus in Edmond.  He was selected along with 9 other leaders with distinguished careers in teaching, research, medicine, government, economic development and public service and a former state senator for its 2017 Hall of Fame honors.  Dr. Harrison has demonstrated excellence in four measures of achievement in higher education: teaching, research, writing and the application of knowledge to the solution of problems for the benefit of others. During his 28 years at OU, Harrison has received national honors as author of a textbook adopted by 70 major universities in the U.S. and abroad, being a leader in biomedical engineering education, and through research which opened the door for the significant reduction in the amount of toxic substances required for chemotherapy in cancer treatment.


The Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame was established in 1994 to recognize and honor individuals, living and deceased, whose achievement and leadership in scholarship, teaching, research, administration, staff support, outreach and public service have brought honor and distinction to higher education in our state. This year represents the 24th year to honor these individuals’ distinguished contributions.