Helen Durand to receive Junior Faculty Award from WSU Academy of Scholars

Helen Durand

Helen Durand, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, has been selected as a recipient of a 2022 Junior Faculty Award from the Wayne State University Academy of Scholars. The award is bestowed annually for outstanding academic accomplishment and a significant record of publication or creative achievement resulting in national or international recognition very early in a career.

“Since joining our faculty, Dr. Durand has demonstrated outstanding character, and excellence both in research and in the classroom,” said Jeff Potoff, professor and chair of chemical engineering and materials science. “She has distinguished herself both within our university and on a national level.”

Durand’s research combines mathematics, control theory and chemical engineering to produce fundamental advances that may be readily applied to solve practical problems in manufacturing. Her efforts aim to mitigate safety and security hazards related to control systems for chemical processes, advance autonomous operations, and explore interactions between chemical process control and process system designs. Her work addresses critical national priorities in sustainable manufacturing, and the design of intelligent systems for applications across industries.

In the five years since her arrival to Wayne State, Durand — who stated that she is “incredibly honored to receive this award” — has earned four extramural grants, including a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator award. She has been invited to give nearly 30 presentations for peer institutions, student groups, workshops and companies, and has provided service and leadership to her research community through participation in AIChE meetings and conferences.

Durand has offered mentorship to numerous students at all academic levels, supporting women and people of historically marginalized backgrounds through research opportunities and community outreach initiatives. She engages with local middle and high school students during Wayne State’s annual STEM Days, and opens her lab to undergraduate students through Research Experiences for Undergraduates funding supplements obtained for her NSF grants.

Durand came to Wayne State in 2017 after earning her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she received numerous awards including the Edward K. Rice and the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department’s Outstanding Ph.D. student awards.

She will be presented with the 2022 Junior Faculty Award at the upcoming Academy of Scholars banquet in October.

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