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Chemical Engineering

Faculty Spotlights

Dr. Abigail Koppes

Assistant Professor
Dr. Abigail Koppes joined the department of Chemical Engineering as an assistant professor in the summer of 2014. She was impressed by Northeastern faculty’s passion for research, student education, and the collaborative spirit on campus. The rapid growth within the college of engineering, focus on improving health through interdisciplinary research, and location within the unique biotechnology hub of Boston were especially appealing. She believes the cross talk between faculty, medical professionals, and universities in the greater Boston area makes Northeastern uniquely poised for cutting edge research that will impact the world.

Prior to joining the faculty at Northeastern, Dr. Koppes received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York in 2013. Her doctoral research with Dr. Deanna Thompson focused on using electrical stimulation for improved repair following peripheral nervous system injuries. In 2013, Dr. Koppes joined the Advanced Drug Delivery Research Laboratory with Dr. Rebecca Carrier in Chemical Engineering as the Northeastern University ADVANCE STEM Future Faculty Fellow. Her work focused on the development of a natural matrix-based delivery vehicle for retinal progenitor cells to treat neuroretinal diseases, and the development of a biomimetic growth substrate for engineered small intestinal tissue from primary enteroids. Dr. Koppes also held a joint appointment at Schepen’s Eye Research Institute and Harvard Medical School with Dr. Michael Young, and is a visiting scientist in Dr. Douglas Lauffenburger’s Molecular Cell Bioengineering group at MIT.

Dr. Koppes hopes to contribute to the growing health initiative at Northeastern through the development of novel biomaterials and devices to treat injuries to the central and peripheral nervous system. Through optogenetic control, she aims to determine and manipulate the underlying pathways that mediate glial cell responses to injury for improved repair. She looks forward to collaborations with Dr. Adam Ekenseair and Dr. Hicham Fenniri towards additive manufacturing of bioactive multi-layered nerve guidance channels. Further, she will collaborate with Dr. Rebecca Carrier towards tissue engineering of the Neurogastroenterological Interface with hopes of building a better model for drug delivery/discovery and regenerative medicine applications. Through her work, she will combine techniques from chemical engineering, bioengineering, materials science, and cellular, molecular, and systems biology.

Dr. Koppes is passionate about mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers and believes that successful learning needs to be an active and positive experience, regardless of personal backgrounds and learning styles. Building the confidence of students while challenging them to learn something new will not only be rewarding for them, but provide them the skills to apply in their professional careers. In the coming year, she looks forward to recruiting 1-3 graduate students, undergraduate researchers, and a postdoctoral researcher who are passionate about interdisciplinary and collaborative team focused research to improve healthcare.

In the classroom, Dr. Koppes looks forward to engaging undergraduate students through hands on learning during Transport Process I laboratory, and creating new electives such as Biomaterial Interactions for Chemical Engineers where she can bring her research and experience into the classroom. As an undergraduate, Dr. Koppes spent participated in Co-op at the Cleveland Clinic with Dr. Shuvo Roy’s BioMEMs group and at a startup company, Ultradian Diagnostics, LLC fabricating glucose oxidase biosensors for long-wear continuous monitoring for type I diabetics. These experiences provide a unique opportunity for Dr. Koppes to discuss both academics and industry with graduate and undergraduate students in the classroom.

Dr. Koppes grew up in western Massachusetts. Outside the laboratory, she enjoys staying active through outdoor activities such as snow sports, surfing, and hiking with her husband and two Siberian huskies, rooting for the Red Sox and Bruins, music, cooking, and supporting local farming.

Dr. Eno Ebong

Assistant Professor
Dr. Eno Ebong joined the Department of Chemical Engineering in the summer of 2013 as an assistant professor. Both the university-wide support system for the faculty and students, and the innovative and collaborative spirit both on campus and with industry, are what attracted her to Northeastern.

Dr. Ebong obtained her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and an S.B. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Before joining the department, she worked at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY, as a research scientist. In her research, she used rapid cryopreservation and transmission electron microscopy techniques to define the structure and blood flow pattern induced reorganization of the endothelial cell sugar coat, called the glycocalyx, which sheds in vascular disease. She studied the mechanisms by which the glycocalyx participates in the conversion of blood fluid forces into endothelial cell functions and dysfunction associated with vascular health and disease, respectively. Her long-term career goal is to identify mechanically-regulated cellular and molecular targets and develop novel tools to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases. She is enthusiastic and passionate about research, and is most interested in research that will integrate fluid mechanics with endothelial cell biology to study the sugar biology, or glycobiology, of vascular health and disease within the next few years.

Her future goals for the Department are to contribute to its health related research efforts, aid in improving its graduate program, and support the strength of experiential undergraduate education. She is interested in developing new interdisciplinary courses that reflect the dynamic and rapidly evolving nature of engineering and biomedicine. She also hopes to teach courses in cell biology for engineers and cardiovascular biomechanics, and looks forward to teaching fluid mechanics and transport and mechanics of materials. Dr. Ebong hopes to make an impact on students in laboratory research conducted in conjunction with formal courses for independent study or to fulfill thesis requirements for degree completion, and influence students as a quality teacher as she teaches both undergraduate and graduate level courses.

Dr. Ebong is a strong believer in student-centered teaching and expects challenges when delivering well-organized courses, while adapting the courses to the students’ input in real-time. She is eager to help undergraduates benefit in their academics and professional careers and her plan is to advise them on and connect them with diverse academic and professional career opportunities. With her academic experiences and affiliations, she can link them to opportunities at MIT, RPI, CUNY, CCNY, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the National GEM Consortium, and other academic or non-academic institutions. As a collaborator with Temple University and Georgia Institute of Technology and through her analytical and medical device industry experience from Hewlett Packard, Agilent Technologies, and Philips, she can provide advice to students on careers paths in industry.

This academic year 2013, Dr. Ebong looks forward to recruiting undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels students as researchers, and expects them to work together with her as a team, be very engaged and productive, be willing to learn new techniques, and have an interest in interdisciplinary research. Her plan is to train engineering students to conduct biomedical research and no prior biological research experience will be required

Although Dr. Ebong is very engaged in her research, in her free time she enjoys spending time with her immediate and extended family. Being of West African origin, she and her family pray, play sports, and party together.

Dr. Hicham Fenniri

The Department of Chemical Engineering enthusiastically welcomed Dr. Hicham Fenniri as a new faculty member in the summer of 2013. After reviewing several research grants from Northeastern scientists, Dr. Fenniri was impressed with the quality and freshness of ideas emanating from the University. He also was drawn to the University’s bold hiring and research initiatives, as well as its strategic location and traditions of openness and collaboration

Dr. Fenniri was born and raised in Morocco and attended the University of Strasbourg, near the border between France and Germany. After obtaining his Ph.D., he worked at the Scripps Research Institute in California and then took on an academic appointment at Purdue University. Most recently, he has worked as a Professor at the University of Alberta while building Canada’s National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT).

Dr. Fenniri’s group brings unique expertise to the Department in materials engineering, particularly supramolecular engineering, whereby synthetic molecules are engineered to undergo complex multi-step self-assembly and self-organization processes to generate functional materials for a variety of applications, such as nanomedicine, tissue engineering, theranostics, renewable energy and molecular electronics. For the next decade, Dr. Fenniri intends to take his knowledge of new materials from the lab to the clinic so that patients in need of an implant device, a more efficient drug with fewer side effects, or a diagnostic tool for monitoring health or diseases in remote areas can benefit. He also plans to further develop the application of his materials in energy harvesting and storage. Dr. Fenniri envisions much collaboration in co-advising and grant development within the department, and has previously collaborated with Professor Thomas Webster for over ten years. Due to his multicultural background, Dr. Fenniri would also like to contribute to Northeastern’s international visibility through research and/or strategic partnerships.

Dr. Fenniri believes that teaching is an integral part of his academic engagement at Northeastern and plans to train graduate students, develop new curricula, and teach at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He and his Northeastern collaborators have already recruited 14 new graduate students and intend to expand the group over the next few years. Dr. Fenniri has over 20 years of experience in teaching and can provide students with both a practical perspective on course material and a conceptual framework for solving more challenging problems

Dr. Adam Ekenseair

Assistant Professor
Dr. Adam Ekenseair joined the Department of Chemical Engineering faculty in the summer of 2013. He grew up in Northwest Arkansas and received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Arkansas in 2005. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was both a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellow. In graduate school, he studied non-Fickian penetrant transport dynamics in glassy polymers, and went on to develop novel injectable, in situ forming, hydrogel-based scaffolds for the repair of craniofacial bone tissue defects as a postdoctoral fellow at Rice University in Houston, TX.

Dr. Ekenseair was impressed by Northeastern’s commitment to the Department of Chemical Engineering and specifically to his area of research: Biomaterials for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. The potential for collaborative research within the department, university, and surrounding research hospitals, medical schools, and academic institutions was also a huge draw. Dr. Ekenseair’s research will fit into the Department’s initiative to develop novel biomaterials for applications in drug delivery, tissue engineering, biological and cellular engineering, and regenerative medicine. He brings expertise in the creation of novel polymer-based biomaterials for use as drug delivery vehicles, scaffolds for tissue regeneration, and minimally invasive injectable therapies. He also carries knowledge of additive manufacturing to create 3D-printed biomaterial constructs to guide tissue regeneration in a spatiotemporal manner, and serve as novel environments in which to study cell-material interactions.

At Northeastern, Dr. Ekenseair sees himself contributing to both the encouragement of innovation through research and the advancement of generations of chemical engineers through teaching. He does not see research and teaching as mutually exclusive, but rather believes that the research laboratory can be “the ultimate teaching environment”. He feels that educating and inspiring others greatly augments a researcher’s impact on the world of science and engineering. Dr. Ekenseair has a strong background in involving undergraduates in research activities and hopes to take on 1-2 undergraduate students and 1-2 graduate students this academic year. He expects them to have a commitment to scientific discovery, to develop into independent researchers, and to communicate results through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

Dr. Ekenseair is interested in teaching the fundamental chemical engineering courses as well as developing and teaching courses in polymer science, biomaterials, scaffolds for tissue engineering, advanced mass transport, and mass transport in polymers. He strives to make the subject matter exciting and accessible and to develop students’ problem solving and communication skills through technical writing and presentation.

Aside from research and education, Dr. Ekenseair spends most of his free time with his family. He enjoys reading, playing racquetball, and visiting museums and historical sites.

Dr. Richard West

Assistant Professor
The Department of Chemical Engineering welcomed Dr. Richard West in September 2011 as an assistant professor. Dr. West was attracted to Northeastern for the enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit amongst the faculty and students, impressive upward trajectory, and for its location in one of the most academic cities in the US, Boston.

Dr. Richard West received his BA and MEng degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Cambridge, UK, in 2004. He was among the first cohort to spend a year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, under the University of Cambridge-MIT undergraduate exchange programs. He returned to MIT for a semester of core graduate courses in chemical engineering at the start of his PhD, which he was pursuing at the University of Cambridge. After completion of his doctoral degree, Dr. West returned to MIT once more, this time as a postdoctoral research associate. He worked with Prof. William Green to develop detailed kinetic models and the tools used to create them. In 2011 he moved across the river to Boston, starting the Computational Modeling in Chemical Engineering group at Northeastern University.

The current research focus of Dr. West's group is on multi-scale computational modeling with an emphasis on chemical reaction kinetics, something completely new for the Department of Chemical Engineering at Northeastern. A major thrust of the research is developing software that automatically builds predictive kinetic models for complex reacting systems. One of the current projects deals with investigation of the pyrolysis of bio-oil, and another one is about making next-generation bio-fuels. Teaching the computer to automatically locate transition states for unknown chemical reactions is also one of the present projects within the group.

Dr. West is looking for big-picture ambition and creativity in designing and steering of projects from graduate students. At the same time, he likes to help his students by not only giving overall guidance but also to help with the details. "We are all part of the same team, and I expect my students collaborate with each other and me whenever they get stuck on something", he says.

Having studied under very different academic styles at the University of Cambridge and MIT, Dr. West hopes to draw on the strengths of both systems to benefit the education of undergraduate students here at Northeastern. In addition to being in academia, Dr. West worked briefly at a large traditional oil and gas company and a small start-up innovation consultancy. He believes that in understanding how different these environments are and how chemical engineering can be applied in all of them would help him to prepare students for the huge variety of careers that lie before them upon graduating from Northeastern.

This past fall '11, Dr. West taught a graduate level course on chemical engineering thermodynamics and is looking forward to teaching undergraduate kinetics this upcoming year. In the future, he plans to develop a course on computational methods which he believes would help all research students, even those with the most experimental of the projects. As for the undergraduate program "it would be fun to teach some product and process innovation", he says.
With the focus on computational modeling, Dr. West anticipates his group working with many groups whose work is experimental. The group is already working towards proposals with the Northeastern University Center of Renewable Energy Technology (NUCRET) in the Chemistry Department on next-generation batteries, with groups in the Mechanical Engineering Department on sustainable pyrolysis processes and combustion fundamentals, and with Professors Goluch and Choi in the Department of Chemical Engineering. They are also in contact with Computer Engineering Department and continuing collaboration with MIT and ENSTA (Ecole Nationale Superieure de Techniques Avancees) ParisTech in France.

In his free time Dr. West enjoys food, photography, and music. He plays the violin in the Mercury Orchestra, the Lowell House Opera, and assorted chamber music groups. He also tries to keep up with the best of British television.

Dr. Sunho Choi

Assistant Professor
Dr. Sunho Choi joined the Department of Chemical Engineering as an assistant professor in September 2011. The rapid growth in education and research and the department's focus on nano, energy, and environmental research areas are factors that influenced Dr. Choi's decision to come to Northeastern. He believes it was a perfect match for him, his family, and his work.

Dr. Choi received his B.S. degree in materials science and engineering from Hanyang University in Korea in 2000 before going to the University of Minnesota (UMN) to pursue his doctoral degree.At UMN he worked on making novel nanocomposite membranes for gas separation and proton-exchange membranes for fuel cells, such as those for H2 separation from CO2 and other gas mixtures targeting the pre-combustion CO2 capture.

Upon receiving his Ph.D. in 2008, Dr. Choi went to the Georgia Institute of Technology for his postdoctoral research where he spent three years before coming to Northeastern. At Georgia Tech he continued to work in the same research area and his work was focused on developing novel adsorbents and heterogeneous catalysts with tailored nanostructures for the application of post-combustion CO2 capture and air capture, as well as biomass conversion for fuel production.

Dr. Choi hopes to contribute to the department's advanced materials research by introducing new aspects including the use of nanostructured materials for the energy and environmental applications. He also hopes to extend his research theme and specialties toward broader areas of clean energy research, including the development of novel nanostructured materials for the production/purification/storage of renewable energy such as hydrogen. Based on the fundamental understanding of nanostructured frameworks and their hybrids, Dr. Choi's group is developing novel strategies for catalysis and advanced separation, which could provide breakthrough technologies for clean and alternative energy employment. For instance, one of the projects within the research group includes the development of advanced hybrid adsorbents that could find its applications in CO2 capture from the environment.

In the fall of 2011, Dr. Choi taught the undergraduate level course Conservation Principles in Chemical Engineering. Although he has teaching experiences from previous institutions, he experimented to find the best way to provide fundamental understanding of the key concepts and basic principles of the course.

Throughout the semester, he tried to develop his own way of teaching and find the perfect balance between efficiency, personal style, and students' needs. He implemented different methods of teaching such as the traditional chalk talk and power point slides to find the best way to interactively teach. From this experience, Dr. Choi believes he has learned a lot about teaching and significantly improved his skills in the field. Since his first class of teaching and meetings with students, he advised all of his students to try and "taste" both fields of academia and industry during their undergraduate career to find what it is they truly "love". For instance, students "could utilize two of the co-op opportunities in research labs at Northeastern and in companies that would help them to decide on what they want to do in the future with a minimum amount of trial and error", he says. Dr. Choi's door is always open to anyone who is struggling with these life-depending choices.

In the future, Dr. Choi hopes to develop a new course in polymer science to further expand the current educational course list. As for the role of an advisor, Dr. Choi believes students will learn best through their own experiences, trial and error, and failures and successes just as he did when he was a student. He hopes to be an advisor who would provide the big picture and would help his students to become self-standing and independent researchers upon graduation. He also hopes that his students would be capable of designing and solving scientific questions with unique engineering approaches whether it will be in academia or industry. He expects students who join his group to be self-motivated and ready to learn and experience the fundamentals "beyond the buttons". Currently, the research group already collaborates with other departments at Northeastern, such as Mechanical & Industrial Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering. They also have a mutual agreement with Dr. Mukerjee's lab in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology to allow students of both groups to freely use the instruments and characterization tools in each lab in addition to research-wise collaborations. Dr. Choi is open to any interested undergraduate student who is seeking research opportunities. Also, there is the possibility for the group to grow by two or more graduate students this upcoming academic year.

When not researching or teaching, Dr. Choi spends most of his free time with his family. He enjoys swimming, playing soccer, and visiting libraries and museums with his kids.

Dr. Anand Asthagiri

Associate Professor
The Department of Chemical Engineering welcomed Dr. Anand Asthagiri in January 2011 as an associate professor. Dr. Asthagiri was attracted to Northeastern's plans for dynamic growth, the collegiality of the faculty and students and faculty scientific interaction. He believes that the work being done at Northeastern, from the students up to the administration, has the potential for great impact on the world.

Dr. Asthagiri grew up in the town of Kent, Ohio. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from Cornell University and earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering with a minor in molecular cell biology from MIT.Dr. Asthagiri's Ph.D. work explored the dynamics of adhesion and growth factor-mediated signaling and their co-regulation of DNA synthesis. He conducted his postdoctoral research at the Harvard Medical School, in the lab of Dr. Joan S. Brugge before becoming an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology.

The opportunities at Northeastern University and the chance to reconnect with the remarkable biomedical "playground" in New England drew Dr. Asthagiri back to Boston. He looks forward to collaborating with Northeastern faculty and the many universities, pharmaceutical companies, and small start-ups in the Boston area. Dr. Asthagiri is particularly interested in how cells function and how chemical engineers can influence those that function through analysis of interactions between cells and materials.

To bring his research expertise into the classroom, he looks forward to developing a cellular engineering class for graduate and senior undergraduate students. During the Spring 2011 semester at Northeastern, he taught the graduate level course CHME 7350, Transport Phenomena. The small class size allowed him to get to know the students and advise them on their assigned projects. Dr. Asthagiri enjoys mentoring students and has eagerly volunteered to be faculty advisor for the Graduate Student Council (GSC) to help facilitate greater communication between the students and faculty.

When Dr. Asthagiri is not teaching, he devotes his time to his family. He loves playing soccer and baseball with his daughter and talking about questions of the universe with his son. Dr. Asthagiri's favorite food is tiramisu; he plays tennis and enjoys Jack Nicholson movies.

With his experience and enthusiasm, Dr. Anand Asthagiri makes a great addition to the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Dr. Edgar Goluch

DiPietro Assistant Professor
The Department of Chemical Engineering welcomes Dr. Edgar Goluch, the newest faculty member, who will be joining us in the fall 2010 semester. Dr. Goluch was attracted to the Department due to its focus on interdisciplinary research and its eagerness towards expansion.

Dr. Edgar Goluch received his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign while researching directed evolution for gene therapy with Professor Huimin Zhao. He then obtained his M.S. in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in bioengineering also from Illinois under the direction of Professor Chang Liu and in close collaboration with Professor Chad Mirkin (Northwestern University) in the area of "lab-on-a-chip" devices. In the last few years, he has conducted postdoctoral research at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands as a National Science Foundation International Research Program Fellow, which involved development of an electrochemical sensing strategy in nanofluidic devices.

Dr. Goluch will be tackling several research projects while at Northeastern. His first project, an extension of his postdoctoral research, focuses on electrochemically detecting biological molecules in microfluidic and nanofluidic devices in order to provide new insight to biological systems.

His second research project entails developing new detection techniques for "chip-in-a-lab" and "lab-on-a-chip" applications. One technique utilizes infrared imaging to obtain chemical information from the materials of interest without disturbing the sample or removing it from the device. A third project involves integrating different photonic techniques such as surface plasmon resonance or surface-enhanced Raman scattering combined with nanotechnology for detector usage. Though physicists have already explored this technology, Dr. Goluch wants to apply these techniques to fluidic systems in order to investigate biological processes. He envisions his future research group working with various collaborators that are ready to fuse nanotechnology and biology.

In addition to his research, Dr. Goluch will be sharing his expertise and experience in the classroom with the students starting in fall 2010. He plans to apply the fundamentals of chemical engineering to relevant problems applicable to the students' professional career. Dr. Goluch says he would like to implement a new nanotechnology course which would introduce students to the field, starting from synthesizing nanoparticles to characterization and applications. He states, "Nanotech is popping up everywhere in society; therefore, it is important for all engineers to be knowledgeable as to how [nanotechnology] is being used in commercial products and research."

Dr. Goluch is an avid bowler and cyclist when outside of the lab or classroom. He enjoys mentoring and participating in student organizations such as the AIChE and Omega Chi Epsilon. He brings potential, determination, and fresh ideas for the new academic year, making him a great addition to the department. We are very excited to see more of what his future with Northeastern will bring. The Department of Chemical Engineering faculty, staff, and students warmly welcome Dr. Edgar Goluch.

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