AIChE Fall 2023
Inside this issue:
Prof. David Murhammer, Professor and AIChE Student Chapter Advisor
Greetings to Hawkeye Chemical Engineers!! This Fall 2023 issue of our AIChE Student Chapter Newsletter begins with an article about the participation of University of Iowa students at the AIChE Annual Student Conference held November 3-6 in Orlando, Florida. This article summarizes the many awards received by our students and their participation in many events. Of particular interest, the University of Iowa AIChE Student Chapter received an Outstanding Student Chapter award for the 19th consecutive year (longest active streak among AIChE student chapters) and for the 30th time in the last 31 years. Furthermore, the University of Iowa ChemE Jeopardy team won the national championship for the 5th time. Our ChemE Jeopardy teams have also finished second 4 times. This was the 13th year of this competition, and no other university has won the competition more than once.
Other articles in this issue include discussions of (i) an internship spotlight that describes Bryant Mitchell’s summer as a participant in the Koch Industries Process Safety Engineering Internship program in Corpus Christi, Texas (note that Bryant has accepted a full-time position with this company), (ii) a research spotlight by Josiah Power’s describing his research in Professor Eric Nuxoll’s research group, (iii) social events sponsored by our AIChE student chapter, (iv) Houses into Homes volunteering event, (v) our student chapter K-12 events, and (vi) an appeal to support our departmental activities, including our AIChE Student Chapter.
Any comments about the newsletter should be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sixteen students from our AIChE student chapter attended the AIChE Annual Student Conference in Orlando, FL from November 3rd-6th. Students were able to attend multiple professional workshops and network with other chemical engineering students and faculty from across the U.S., as well as international chapters. Our ChemE Jeopardy team, consisting of Darrell Smith, Marie Ohlinger, Nicholas Brunn, and Liam Horan competed in the finals against two other teams, and brought home the 1st place victory, once again!
ChemE Jeopardy Winners (L-R Nicholas Brunn, Marie Ohlinger, Darrell Smith, Liam Horan)
Multiple students were also given awards at the awards banquet, including Liam Horan, who won the Donald F. Othmer Second Year Student Academic Excellence Award. I accepted the 2022-2023 Donald F. & Mildred Topp Othmer Scholarship Award, and Darrell Smith won the second-place award for the AIChE design problem on behalf of his teammates, Alexa Barnes, Matthew Main, and Nathanial Massa. Our chapter also won an Outstanding Student Chapter Award! Four students (Olivia Clark, Aoife Cleary, Klaertje Hesselink, and Colin Houts) participated in research poster competitions, and Josiah Power presented his research in the technical presentation competition (oral presentation). He qualified for this competition by winning the Mid-America regional competition held in April at the University of Missouri (Columbia).
Professor Murhammer and Students at the AIChE Conference
Outside of the conference, we were able to enjoy the nice Florida weather! We all went out to dinner as a group to Rainforest Café, explored Disney Springs, and hung out at the hotel pools. Overall, students had a successful and fun conference. We look forward to the next one and the opportunities it brings!
Over the summer, I was a part of the 2023 Koch Industries Process Safety Engineering internship role. In this internship, I served as an internal company consultant and worked for their oil and gas refinery, Flint Hills Resources. It was in Corpus Christi Texas, and I spent a lot of time at the beach! During this internship I applied the concepts of process safety engineering to complete several real-life projects that made an impact on the company directly. There were lots of lunch and learns where we talked to current employees of the company, all with different and interesting backgrounds. I had insights from the Plant Manager, the Vice President of Operations, and the Refinery Leadership Team. Each gave me a good insight on how process safety is integrated into process engineering, operation, maintenance, and even economics.
Bryant Mitchell at Flint Hills Resources
Outside of work I would spend time with the other interns, and we would have beach days, sand volleyball games, and many other local events in Corpus Christi. My biggest take away from this summer is that as a chemical engineer, you are a part of the brains and nervous system of any given plant. It was interesting to apply concepts of risk management and process hazard analysis in an actual setting where I had to think about the problem. I spent plenty of time in the office and in the field. I also got a chance to frequently talk with operators in the control room about certain safety systems and safeguards to use when running their units. This gave me great insight on the process side of the internship, and a lot of my time spent really studying the oil flow through each main component of the process. In doing this, I learned that once you know the oil flow and economics, you can really understand how chemical engineers are used today.
Biofilms on medical devices infect hundreds of thousands of patients and cost the healthcare industry billions of dollars each year. Most infected implants must be surgically removed and replaced in a painful and expensive process. Heating the implant in situ is an alternative to surgical implant removal that has been shown to reduce bacterial biofilm populations. I joined Dr. Eric Nuxoll’s research lab at the end of my freshman year to investigate the thermal treatment of these infections as a non-invasive alternative to surgery. The long-term goal of my research is to develop a more effective but less expensive alternative to high-risk invasive surgeries and increase the quality of life for patients dealing with this issue.
My first research project involved assisting two graduate students with the construction of electro-resistive heating devices used to deliver thermal shocks in vivo to biofilms in mice. Each device contained a nichrome resistor that was attached between two metal coupons with a thermally conductive adhesive. Biofilms were grown on the outside of the coupons, and the devices were implanted into mice. Current was run though the device to heat the metal and kill the bacteria growing on the coupons. The reduction in biofilm population density was quantified at different temperatures and durations of heat exposure.
I transitioned projects to research the thermal susceptibility of polymicrobial biofilms earlier this year in collaboration with another chemical engineering undergraduate named Colin Houts. Most thermal susceptibility studies to date have investigated biofilms that only contain one species of bacteria. The effect of a second bacterial species on the thermal susceptibility of the first was unknown. To address this, biofilms of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were grown both individually and together on microscope slides. The biofilms were thermally shocked to determine the effect of heat on bacterial population density. Results confirm that heat shocks substantially decrease both single-species and polymicrobial biofilm population density. Results also indicate that P. aeruginosa substantially weakens the thermal shock resistance of S. aureus, while S. aureus does not appear to impact the thermal susceptibility of P. aeruginosa. I am currently determining the synergistic effect of using antibiotics with a heat shock to eliminate polymicrobial biofilms, and I intend to continue my research on this topic through next semester.
Working in Dr. Nuxoll's lab has been an extremely impactful experience. I've gained an appreciation for the commitment required to make scientific discoveries and have learned to design experiments, analyze and collect data, and troubleshoot failures to achieve success. I have also furthered my communication skills by presenting at and winning the AIChE Mid-America Regional Technical Presentation and presenting at the AIChE National Conference. These skills have helped me grow as a person, and I look forward to continuing my research journey as I pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering after graduation next year.
Although it’s no secret that Iowa chemical engineers work hard in the classroom, they can play hard too. This October, the junior and senior ChemEs met up for a bowling night at Colonial Lanes, a longstanding traditional social event for the AIChE community at Iowa. This semester, a record 26 AIChE members attended the event, and students enjoyed a few games of bowling together on a Friday night after a difficult week of classes.
AIChE Student Members at the Bowling Event
More excitement came during December’s social event—a home Iowa women’s basketball game against Bowling Green at Carver Hawkeye Arena. Addi O’Grady, #44 on the team and a junior in the chemical engineering program, dominated the court, scoring 10 points. Iowa, coming into the game with an 8-1 record, won by a whopping 99-65 score. While star players like Caitlin Clark and Kate Martin provided their usual spectacle for Hawkeye fans, a bigger surprise came from the audience—Sue Bird, former WNBA player for the Seattle Storm, and Jason Sudeikis, famous American actor, were both in attendance. Both stars met with the Iowa women’s basketball team after the game, and coach Lisa Bluder introduced them as the “Best Player and Best Coach in America”—a reference to Sue Bird’s legendary career in basketball herself, and Ted Lasso, Jason’s most famous acting role in recent years. Sudeikis also autographed a “Believe” sign hung up in the building in another nod to the TV show.
Women’s Basketball Game Attended by AIChE Members
During the Fall 2023 semester, students were given the opportunity to participate in a variety of different volunteer activities. One of the events held was with Houses into Homes. Houses into Homes is a nonprofit organization that provides gently used beds, furniture, and household items for families and individuals in the Iowa City area who have recently left a position they were in where they did not have somewhere to call a home. This organization wants to make sure that these new living conditions can turn from a simple living space into one that they can call home.
I was lucky enough to be a part of this event this semester. I have volunteered with Houses into Homes for the past year and a half, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every time I have been able to go. There is a wide variety of tasks that are offered for volunteers to take part in. These include loading a shipment into one of their moving trucks, unloading a moving truck once it has arrived at the customer's location, receiving new donations made by the community, organizing the warehouse, as well as tagging items that are to be shipped out for specific customers. There are physical tasks like carrying bed frames and box springs around the warehouse. There are hands-on tasks like painting or refinishing furniture that need some touching up. There are also many other tasks to be done that vary from visit to visit!
During this specific visit, our group was assigned a few main tasks. The first task was to load an empty moving truck with a list of different items that were already tagged and ready to be donated. The students worked together to get everything up to the front of the warehouse so that loading the truck wouldn’t take too long. Once the truck was loaded, the students drove to the customer’s location and began to unload everything into their home. After completing the visit, the students returned to the warehouse and split off into separate groups to get a number smaller tasks done. This included repainting a bed frame and a dozen chairs, organizing mattresses, reorganizing bed sheet sets, and starting to collect items for another order. Throughout the entire process, the students were assisted by leading volunteers from Houses into Homes. Their help made everything run very smoothly, and I was incredibly grateful for their support during our group’s visit!
This volunteer event has been around since I joined AIChE, and I hope that Houses into Homes and the University of Iowa’s AIChE chapter stay in contact over the next few years. It is important for students to know how their actions can directly affect the community that they are a part of. I know volunteering is a key aspect of AIChE, and our chapter has a strong hold on what it means to be a strong volunteer from these kinds of events.
AIChE Members at the Houses into Homes Volunteering Event
The University of Iowa AIChE chapter hosts multiple K-12 events throughout the year. In spring of 2023, the chapter volunteered to do science experiments with multiple classes of sixth grade students at two schools in the Iowa City area. Experiments included learning about polymers by making slime from borax and glue and extracting DNA from strawberries to learn about genetics. Additionally, the chapter participated in a STEM night at Penn Elementary, to make slime with over 200 students who attended.
During the fall 2023 semester, the AIChE volunteers participated in the Party After the Parade event, held in the Seaman’s Center following the homecoming parade. This event featured STEM-based activities led by student organizations associated with the College of Engineering. Slime was made from borax, Elmer’s glue and water, and participants were able to choose their own color of slime and take it home with them. Events such as these go a long way to inspiring the next generation to love science and enter a STEM career. The AIChE K-12 coordinator team aims to host additional events in 2024 to expand outreach in the Iowa City school district and foster hands-on learning!
AIChE Volunteers at the Party after the Parade Event (L-R Jack Renning, Joshia Power, Olivia Dohm, Eleanor Lopez)
I hope this message finds you in good health and high spirits. It's with great pleasure that I reach out to you with this newsletter – AIChE at the University of Iowa is celebrating its continued growth, achievement, and innovation. As a valued member of our alumni community, we want to share this with you and invite you to contribute to the continued success of Chemical Engineering at the University of Iowa.
We have witnessed remarkable strides in various areas, from academic achievements to groundbreaking research initiatives in our program. Our commitment to providing an exceptional educational experience remains unwavering, and we are proud to have played a role in shaping the future of countless individuals.
Chemical Engineering here is flourishing, but to sustain and enhance the quality of education we provide, we are reaching out to our alumni community for support. Your generosity can make a significant impact on the lives of current and future students, ensuring they have access to the resources and opportunities they need to excel.
No contribution is too small, and every donation brings us one step closer to achieving our shared goals. Your support not only strengthens the foundation of Chemical Engineering at the University of Iowa but also reinforces the sense of community and pride we share as alumni.
To make your contribution, please contact Professor David Murhammer at Davidemail@example.com. We also encourage you to spread the word among fellow alumni, as collective efforts can create a powerful force for positive change.
Thank you for considering this request, and we hope you take pride in being part of an institution that continues to make a significant impact. Together, we can shape a future filled with promise and possibilities.
Thank you to the Fall 2023 AIChE Officers for their hard work and contributing efforts to make our AIChE Student Chapter a successful organization.
President: Olivia Dohm
Vice President: Aoife Cleary
Secretary: Sydney Schulte
Treasurer: Alejandro Lira
Newsletter Editor: Celesta Cox
Webmaster: Hallie Gates
Historian: Rio de los Santos
Social Chair: Logan Garland
ChemE Car Chairs: Jack Renning and Cheryl Reuben
K-12 Program Coordinators: Eleanor Lopez, Riley Coulter, and Bryant Mitchell
Volunteer Chair: Josiah Power
Advisor: Professor David Murhammer
Editor-In-Chief, Celesta Cox, would also like to thank the following people for their support and contributions to the Fall 2023 AIChE Student Chapter Newsletter:
Faculty Advisor: Professor David Murhammer
Contributors: Olivia Dohm, Bryant Mitchell, Josiah Power, Logan Garland, Sawyer Schule, Eleanor Lopez, and Alejandro Lira
Your help is much appreciated!
Interested in speaking at professional seminar? If so, then contact our Spring 2024 AIChE Student Chapter Vice President Liam Horan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Student Chapter Advisor Prof. David Murhammer at email@example.com for details and availability.