Wayne State and BASF collaborating on second annual lecture series with world renowned chemical engineers

The Wayne State University College of Engineering will welcome five members of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering during the 2019-20 academic year for the second annual BASF Distinguished Lecture Series, a joint effort between BASF and the Wayne State Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

Each speaker will visit Wayne State’s Midtown Detroit campus to stimulate idea-focused conversations about emerging growth areas such as membrane technology, chemical process and control, polymers and rheology, performance materials and connected plants, and catalysis.

Norman Li, M.S. ’57, founder and president of NL Chemical Technology, Inc., will open the series at his alma mater on September 10. Subsequent speakers include Tom Edgar, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and director of the UT Austin Energy Institute; Chris Macosko, professor emeritus of chemical engineering and materials science at the University of Minnesota; Gavin Towler, vice president and chief technology officer at Honeywell; and Enrique Iglesia, professor of chemical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley.

“Our relationships with BASF and these brilliant scientists not only give Wayne State University more global visibility, but they also provide extraordinary resources for our students, faculty and alumni,” said Guangzhao Mao, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. “Having leaders of industry and academia come to our campus is an opportunity for us to absorb a wealth of knowledge and experience, and to demonstrate to the scientific community how research and innovation at Wayne State is changing the world.”

All seminars are free of charge and will start at 2:30 p.m. on their respective dates in the Danto Engineering Development Center.

This partnership between Wayne State and BASF — the largest chemical producer in the world, with a footprint in more than 80 countries — was initiated to create another channel that connects students with professional leaders and enhances interaction among industry experts.

“The quality of science education at Wayne State is outstanding and BASF is proud of our partnership with the College of Engineering," said Michael Pcolinski, BASF’s vice president of advanced materials research. “Bringing world class scientists to visit and interact with faculty and students enhances the students’ educational experience and helps further expand their understanding of pathways to success.”


Norman LiNorman Li, Ph.D. – Sept. 10, 2019

Li is an internationally renowned scientist who has more than 40 years’ experience in American chemical and petroleum industries. He was a senior scientist with Exxon Research and Engineering Co. and the director of research at UOP Co. and Honeywell. He also served as a consultant for the U.S. Apollo Moon Landing Project. In 1995, he founded NL Chemical Technology, Inc., a company focused on the development of membrane technologies for water treatment. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Academia Sinica in Taiwan. Li is an award-winning researcher with 45 U.S. patents and more than 100 technical papers, and has edited 20 books, all in the field of separation science and technology. He was inducted into the Wayne State University College of Engineering Hall of Fame in 1989.


Tom EdgarTom Edgar, Ph.D. – Sept. 17, 2019

Edgar is a chemical engineer who has been on the University of Texas at Austin faculty for more than 40 years. He serves as the director of the UT Austin Energy Institute and holds the George T. and Gladys H. Abell Chair in Chemical Engineering. For the past four decades, Edgar has concentrated his academic work in process modeling, control, and optimization. He has published over 450 articles and book chapters, and co-authored three textbooks. Edgar supervised the thesis research of over 45 M.S. and 80 Ph.D. students. He served as president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1997, and today is board secretary of Pecan Street, Inc. in Austin, Texas, which deals with renewable energy and smart grids. Edgar’s current research interests cover renewable energy, combined heat and power, energy storage and improved oil recovery.


Chris MacoskoChris Macosko, Ph.D. – Oct. 15, 2019

Macosko is a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota. He is internationally known for his work in polymer science and engineering, particularly in the areas of rheology and polymer processing. Macosko is an author of two textbooks and more than 500 academic papers, and holds dozens of patents. He has served as director of the Industrial Partnership for Research in Interfacial and Materials Engineering (IPRIME), a university-industry consortium at the University of Minnesota, since 1999. He was awarded the Charles M. A. Stine Award (now called the Braskem Award) in Materials Engineering and Sciences from American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1988, and the Bingham Medal from the Society of Rheology in 2004. 


Gavin TowlerGavin Towler, Ph.D. – Oct. 29, 2019 (TBD 2020)

Towler is vice president and CTO of Honeywell Performance Materials Technologies (PMT), a global leader in high-performance specialty materials, process technologies and materials for petroleum refining, petrochemical production, and natural gas processing as well as products, services and solutions for industrial process automation. Towler previously worked at UOP for 18 years in a variety of roles, including vice president and CTO. He has 25 years of experience in the oil, gas and chemicals industry and holds 68 U.S. patents.  He is co-author of the textbook Chemical Engineering Design and is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University and the National University of Singapore. Towler is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.


Enrique IglesiaEnrique Iglesia, Ph.D. – March 31, 2020

Iglesia is an expert in heterogeneous catalysis and chemical reaction engineering. He joined the University of California at Berkeley as a professor of chemical engineering after 12 years of research and management experience at the Exxon Corporate Research Laboratories. He currently serves as the Theodore Vermeulen Chair in Chemical Engineering at UC Berkeley and a faculty senior scientist in the E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  He is a past editor-in-chief of the Journal of Catalysis (1997-2010) and president of the North American Catalysis Society (2009-17), and is presently the vice president and president-elect of the International Association of Catalysis Societies. Iglesia is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors, and a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Return to news