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Chair's Welcome

May 2018

Laurence R Weatherley PhD Chair and Spahr Professor of Chemical Engineering

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Kansas. We are sure that you will find your experience here exciting and valuable. We are very proud of our track record of excellence in both teaching and research which is underpinned by the department’s outstanding faculty, and our teaching and research facilities. These support our department’s key areas of activity in Kinetics and Catalysis, Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine, Enhanced Oil Recovery and Reservoir Engineering, and Electrochemical Engineering.

A BS degree from C&PE will be recognized nationally and internationally. Graduates from our degree programs continue to attract some of the highest starting salaries of all new graduates in the US and overseas. The demand for places in our two undergraduate programs continues to be high. As I write this, our current undergraduate count amounts to over 500. Over 40% of our undergraduate cohort in chemical engineering are women.

This is an exciting time for Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Kansas!  Our discipline has been recognized for its importance to the local, regional and national economic interests of the US, and over the last several years we have seen completion of transformational investments with new laboratories and other facilities for petroleum engineering, tissue engineering research, fuel cell research, catalysis, separations, and process intensification. All these are areas in which you may discover undergraduate and graduate research opportunities. Of special note is the new concentration in Chemical Engineering Materials within the chemical engineering bachelor’s program. This was launched in fall 2017.

Along with the other programs in the School of Engineering we are also major beneficiaries of the multi-million dollar Building on Excellence program which is providing new buildings, facilities and additional professors for our program. Of special note is that in spring 2018  we saw the opening of the new Earth, Energy and Environment building which is a joint facility for research and teaching shared between Petroleum Engineering and Geology. This is a state of the art building with facilities for imaging, 3D visualization, PVT measurement, and CT scanning. The building also features open learning classrooms with the latest technology, and bespoke spaces for industry collaborations.  The recently opened engineering building (LEEP2) provides our students with a modern, extensive teaching laboratory for chemical engineering unit operations. In the last two years we have invested more than $100K in new modular experiments in reactor engineering, and in thermodynamic properties, soon to be complemented by new equipment for fluid flow studies A new research suite housing Dr Shiflett’s research team hosted its inaugural Open Day in April 2017.

We have been especially appreciative of the support we have received both from industry, from our advisory board and from our engineering alumni over many years which make much of the above possible.  This support also provides for many student scholarships, endowed professorships and support for international activities. These have been made possible by contributions from companies such as Berexco, Conoco Philips, Exxon-Mobil, Koch Industries, Occidental, Devon Energy and from many generous private donors and alumni.

In January 2018 we were very pleased to welcome Dr Jenny Robinson and Dr Mei He as Assistant Professors in Chemical Engineering. Dr He’s appointment is joint with the Department of Chemistry. Both our new colleagues provide additional strength to our programs in biomedical engineering and to our core teaching program in chemical engineering.

We are also very pleased to welcome on to our staff team, Jeff Worth to further strengthen our laboratory coordinator team.

Other faculty news includes Distinguished Professor RV Chaudhari receiving the 2018 Murray Raney Award from the Organic Reaction Catalysis Society. Dr Cory Berkland was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and Dr Juan Bravo Suarez was in receipt of a Doctoral New Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society.

Finally, if you are interested in seeing the department or would like further information, I would be delighted to hear from you by phone, fax or e-mail. If you want to set up a campus visit, please contact the KU Visitor Center at 785-864-3911 or our C&PE General Office at 785 864 4965.


Laurence R Weatherley PhD

Chair of Chemical and Petroleum Chemical Engineering
Albert P Learned Distinguished Professor
University of Kansas

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