Chemical engineering professor receives CAREER Program award

Friday, February 18, 2011

Selen Cremaschi's project is expected to receive more than $400,000 from the National Science Foundation during the next five years.

Selen Cremaschi, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, has received an award from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program for her project titled Modeling and Optimization of Next Generation Feedstock Development for Chemical Process Industry. The project is expected to receive more than $400,000 from the foundation during the next five years.

The CAREER program offers the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Their activities build firm foundations for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

According to Cremaschi, a switch from fossil-fuel feedstocks – such as crude oil fractions for ethylene – to plant-based feedstocks – such as switchgrass for ethylene – will require substantial amounts of research and development and capital investments by industry and the government, and hence there is great opportunity for investigating how these investments will impact the evolution of the biomass conversion technologies.

The objective of her project is to develop novel models and computational methods that are able to predict the effect of research and development and capital investment decisions (how much to invest and in which technology and when) on the evolution of biomass conversion technologies for chemical process industry feedstock development.

The project aims to aid education through four means:
• Integrate research themes and projects that require and promote system-level thinking and interdisciplinary work into traditional engineering undergraduate curriculum courses
• Expand TU’s “Risk Management and Optimization” course, developed by Cremaschi, and integrate projects from this research program into the course
• Engage and mentor at least two undergraduate students per year in this research project utilizing two successful unique campuswide capstone programs that promote student participation in original research
• Recruit and supervise at least two full-time graduate students who will pursue advanced degrees in chemical engineering.

Cremaschi said plant-based feedstock development is important to national and economic security and there is a wide range of options to evolve a complex biomass feedstock system, therefore the research could have substantial scientific, technical and societal effects. In addition to the dissemination of the results via scientific publications and conferences, the developed models will be made available online.


Mona Chamberlin