Northeastern University Department of Chemical Engineering October Newsletter
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Letter from the Chair

Changing Leaves Provide a Time for Reflection

As we enter one of the most beautiful seasons in New England, it is a great time for reflection. As the leaves change color this foliage season, we are reminded of the unprecedented growth occurring in Chemical Engineering at Northeastern. We have seen our programs triple in size in just 4 years, yet, have maintained our personal touch. We have seen a record number of presentations at key academic conferences (like the Biomedical Engineering Society) yet research quality remains high. We have seen more undergraduates interested in chemical engineering than ever, yet co-op placement remains perfect. In this issue, we celebrate a record number of faculty awards, such as Prof. Murthy's new NSF grant, Prof. Lewis becoming a fellow in APS, and  Prof. Landherr's science comics on display as an art exhibit. This season, we not only double down on innovation in research and education in the classroom, but also take much pride in our collective achievements over such a short time period. Please enjoy this October version of our Newsletter as we watch New England's beautiful transition in the fall season.


Thomas Webster
Professor and Department Chair, Chemical Engineering
Art Zafiropoulo Chair in Engineering
Faculty Highlight
Debra Auguste
PhD, Princeton University

The primary focus of our research is to design, synthesize, and characterize new biomaterials that change the way pharmaceuticals are delivered and tissues are regenerated. These materials exhibit cooperative or heterogeneous features, exemplified in nature. A central theme in the lab is understanding how local organization affects global properties. Our biologically-inspired materials illustrate this concept via assembly at two length scales: molecular (<1 μm) for Targeted Therapeutics, and cellular (>1 μm) for Tissue Architecture.

Cells sense changes in their environment and respond by altering their gene expression.  Cells manipulate their membrane proteins, which has profound effects on disease progression. Cells orchestrate the density of proteins and lipids to govern adhesion and migration. From this knowledge, drug delivery vehicles are engineered that complement the molecular patterns observed on cells to achieve strong, cooperative binding.  Mechanical and chemical scaffolds are optimized to direct cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation. These strategies are employed in model systems of inflammation, wound healing, and breast cancer. Our research exploits biology to engineer new materials to overcome existing challenges in drug delivery and tissue engineering.
Upcoming Events and 
2016 AIChE Annual Meeting
November 13-18, 2016
San Francisco, CA

Come see our booth at the Grad Recruitment Fair on Nov. 13th (Parc 55 Hotel, Cyril Magnin Ballroom and Foyer, 9:00am-4:00pm) 

Meet our department at a FREE reception on Nov. 15th! Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Golden Gate Room 3, 7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Science Comics Created by Prof. Lucas Landherr on Display at Art Exhibition

Science comic work written by Northeastern chemical engineers will be part of an art exhibit at Waterfall Arts in Belfast, Maine starting this Friday, September 23.  Science comics have been a major effort in recent engineering education research work conducted by Chemical Engineering Associate Teaching Professor Lucas Landherr under his creative pseudonym Dante Shepherd.

The exhibit, Created in the Lab: Interpreting Science through Comics, will highlight an eight page comic written by graduate student Christopher Cogswell with Professor Landherr, and drawn by professional artist Carey Pietsch.  This comic focuses on the concept of applying and utilizing assumptions within problem solving.  

Additionally, the central piece of the art exhibition is a periodic table with each element depicted artistically by different contributors.  Professor Landherr wrote and plotted the displays for three elements - Thorium, Seaborgium, and Osmium, which were then drawn by professional artist Beth Sparks.

The exhibit will be on display through November 11.

Professor Laura Lewis Selected as APS Fellow

Chemical Engineering and Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Professor Laura Lewis was selected as an American Physical Society fellow. The criterion for election is exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise; e.g., outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education. Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one's professional peers. 

Professor Shashi Murthy Awarded $300K NSF Grant

Chemical Engineering Professor Shashi Murthy has received funding from the National Science Foundation to develop novel manufacturing technologies for cell-based cancer therapies. This project will be a collaborative effort with Cambridge, MA-based Neon Therapeutics which is developing neo-antigen-based therapeutic vaccines and cell-based therapies for cancer. Cell-based therapies represent the next major frontier in the treatment of cancer and their personalized nature presents unique challenges in manufacturing.

This project brings together an interdisciplinary team of engineers and immunologists to design innovative automated bioreactors that can be optimized for biological function. This grant provides $300,000 in funding over a two year period to be shared equally by Northeastern and Neon Therapeutics.

Recent Publications

Heterogeneous nucleation from a supercooled ionic liquid on a carbon surface
By: He, Xiaoxia; Shen, Yan; Hung, Francisco R.; Santiso, Erik E. 

The Body Acoustic: Ultrasonic Neuromodulation for Translational Medicine
By: Daniel M Ventre, Abigail N Koppes
CELLS TISSUES ORGANS   Volume: 202   Issue: 1-2   Pages:  23-41 Published: OCT 2016
Complex, multi-scale small intestinal topography replicated in cellular growth substrates fabricated via chemical vapor deposition of Parylene C
By: Abigail N Koppes, Megha Kamath, Courtney A Pfluger, Daniel D Burkey, Mehmet Dokmeci, Lin Wang, Rebecca L Carrier
BIOFABRICATION   Volume: 8   Issue: 3   Pages: 035011 Published: AUG 2016

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Northeastern University Chemical Engineering · 360 Huntington Avenue · 313 Snell Engineering · Boston, Ma 02115 · USA

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