2019 Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends of Wayne State Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science:

Season's greetings from my family to yours!

Earlier this year, I hosted a visit by a fellow chemical engineering department chair who is also an alumnus of our department. He made a remarkable statement, "I could have gone to study at "better known universities", but I stayed and thrived as a student at Wayne State because of Dr. Ralph Kummler". Ralph Kummler was a former chair of the department and a former dean of the College of Engineering. I regret that I did not know Ralph well when he was alive, but I got to know him much better through my interactions with many alumni of our department in the last three and half years. The same remarkable statement was said again and again about Ralph by many people I have had the privilege to know. I learned that Ralph always put students first and went out of his way to help everyone. Never once did I hear him say "how does this benefit me?" I am happy to report that the department Ralph helped to build is on the move! Here are some of this year's highlights of the department.

  • We went through the 6-year ABET accreditation of our BS Chemical Engineering program smoothly.
  • Wayne State Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science launched the first BASF Distinguished Lecture Series (https://go.wayne.edu/c25ec3).
  • The Alumni Association's (WSUAA) Industry Mentor Program continues to expand. In addition to the current alumni-student matches in the College of Engineering and the Department of Chemistry, the Archival Graduate Program in the School of Information Sciences plans to launch its Industry Mentor Program with WSUAA during the winter 2019 semester. Discussions are currently taking place to launch this program in the College of Education and the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. This program was started in our department.
  • Another successful UT-WSU Chemical Engineering Graduate Research Symposium (https://engineering.wayne.edu/news/students-take-first-place-at-ut-wsu-chemical-engineering-graduate-research-symposium--30912).
  • Professor Haipeng Liu received NSF CAREER award for vaccine adjuvant research (https://go.wayne.edu/07fdef).
  • Professor Zhiqiang Cao leads a research team to develop "smart" insulin with ~$3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (https://go.wayne.edu/81c8e1).
  • Professor Helen Durand was one of 31 scientists and engineers across the country to receive the Air Force's Young Investigator Research Program award (https://go.wayne.edu/10dcd3).
  • Chemical engineering alumna, Lisa Schalm, won Distinguished Undergraduate Award from the American Chemical Society (https://go.wayne.edu/6640d7).
  • Chemical engineering major, Laura Paz Herrera, won best presentation at the Young Scholars Summer Research Program (https://engineering.wayne.edu/news/chemical-engineering-major-wins-best-presentation-at-the-young-scholars-summer-research-program--31758). 
  • Christopher Roberts, a chemical engineering major at Wayne State University, recently concluded a four-month Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, India (IITM) (https://go.wayne.edu/8247af).

We look forward to greeting old friends and making new acquaintances in the winter 2019 season of our department seminars:
January 15: James Moon (University of Michigan
January 29: Steve Horsch and Jessica Nichols (Dow Chemical)
February 5: Fernando Lima (West Virginia University)
February 12: Allen Liu (University of Michigan)
February 19: Sossina M. Haile (Northwestern)
February 26: Radislav A. Potyrailo (GE Global Research)
March 5: Lola Eniola-Adefeso (University of Michigan)
March 19: Phil Christopher (UCSB) March 26: Joel Young (BASF)
April 9: Samir Mitrogotri (Harvard) April 16: Paula Hammond (MIT)

Reflecting on a personal level, I am grateful for the love and support of my family and Wayne State University that gives me an opportunity to make an impact. The testimonials about Ralph have motivated me to make a lasting impact on our institution and its people. How can we work together to benefit our profession and community in the coming year?


Guangzhao Mao
Professor and Chair
Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
Chair-elect (interim)
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Wayne State University