2012-2013 Awards Convocation

The Department of Chemical Engineering 2012-2013 Awards Convocation will be on April 10, 2013
Rosza Center, 2:00-4:00 P.M.
The Keynote eakers will be Michigan Tech chemical engineering alumnus James A. Mack ‘59 and his wife, Lorna, donated $2 million to establish an endowed chair in cellular and molecular bioengineering. Mr. Mack retired as President and Chief Executive Officer of Cambrex Corporation, a developer and marketer of specialty chemicals. His company has successfully combined biology with engineering—especially in the rapidly emerging field of tissue engineering and cell therapy, and the development of small molecule therapeutics. Poster
James and Lorna Mack are dedicated to helping Michigan Tech achieve its vision—to grow as a premier research university of international stature, delivering education, new knowledge, and innovation.


ESC/BRC Student Research Forum Winners Announced

ESC/BRC Student Research Forum Winners Announced
The Ecosystem Science Center and the Biotechnology Research Center announced award recipients of the Ninth Annual ESC/BRC Student Research Forum, held March 27.
For the graduate students, two Grand Prize Awards and six Merit Awards were presented. They were selected from among the 59 posters and abstracts submitted by graduate students conducting research related to ecology, the environment and biotechnology at Michigan Tech.
Maria Tafur of the Chemical Engineering depaertment won a Merit Award for, “Reduction of Porcine Parvovirus Infectivity in the Presence of Protecting Osmolytes, ” Advisor: Caryn Heldt


Chemical Engineering Sweeps Poster Competition at SME Annual Meeting

Four Michigan Tech Chemical Engineering students placed in the annual Minerals Processing division undergraduate and graduate poster competition during the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) Annual meeting in Denver on February 27. This annual poster competition showcases research from the top mining and mineral processing programs across the nation and is judged by some of the top engineers and scientists in industry and academia. It involved a five-minute oral presentation in a special session as well as a public poster display at a large SME gathering.


Dr. David Wood, Ohio State University- A Grain Processing Seminar in chemical Engineering

Dr. David W. Wood

Ohio State University

Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

 

Friday-March 22, 2013

10:00 a.m.

 MUB-Alumni Lounge

 

New Technologies from Engineered Self-Modifying Proteins

Professor Wood’s work seeks to apply biological concepts of protein function, cell metabolism, genetics and evolution to the molecular-scale development of new technologies.  These goals are achieved through the development of designer fusion proteins that combine domains and functions from unrelated proteins and enzymes.  We typically combine rational protein engineering with genetic selection to create and fine-tune the desired activities.  In oseparations, we have combined a previously developed pH-sensitive self-cleaving protein with a variety of purification tags to produce simple and economical methods for purifying recombinant proteins.  Our most recent work involves rational and evolutionary approaches to optimizing our self-cleaving tags for use in a wider variety of expression hosts.  In biosensing, we have developed allosteric proteins that incorporate human hormone receptors, and have used these proteins to generate Escherichia coli strains that are growth-dependent on hormones and hormone-like compounds.  Remarkably, this genetically simple bacterial sensor can differentiate agonist from antagonist activities and has been effective in detecting a wide variety of strong and weak estrogenic compounds.  More recently, we have applied this system to the discovery of thyroid active compounds, as well as the evaluation of environmental endocrine disruptors in humans and animals, and even the discovery of possible autism-associated environmental factors.  Applications of our designed proteins are far-reaching, and include drug discovery, biosensing, drug activation, reversible knockouts for metabolic research, new genetic selection systems, and advanced cellular control strategies.

 

 


Howard Haselhuhn: Outstanding Graduate Student Leader

The Graduate Research Colloquium (GRC) was held on Feb 21-22, 2013. GRC was organized by the Graduate Student Government (GSG). Graduate students from all departments at Michigan Tech presented their research and ideas to other students and faculty in the form of oral or poster presentations. A group of judges that consists of faculty (and/or some invited members of industry) evaluated student’s presentations to award prizes to the best 1st, 2nd and 3rd presentations from each session (oral and poster). There are also three honorable mention awards given in both oral and poster presentation sessions.

In addition, at the Awards Banquet that was held on Friday evening February 23, the Graduate School presented several annual awards, including the Outstanding Graduate Student Leader award that went to Howard Haselhuhn of Chemical Engineering.


Outstanding Graduate Student Leader: Howard Haselhuhn, Shown here Kevin Cassell (GSG), Michigan Tech vice president Les Cook, Howard Haselhuhn, and Komar Kawatra, Department Chair, Chemical Engineering

Find out more about the Graduate Research Colloquium


Grain Processing Seminar February 22nd-Dr. Todd Przybycien,Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Todd M. Przybycien

 Carnegie Mellon University

Departments of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering 

Friday-February 22, 2013

10:00am

MUB- Alumni Lounge

 

Unconventional Applications of Poly(ethylene glycol)-modified Proteins in BioProcessing and Drug Delivery

The covalent attachment of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) polymer chains, or “PEGylation,” improves the efficacy of protein drugs by extending their half-lives in the circulation without adversely affecting biological binding activity: the PEG chains are thought to hinder recognition by proteases, inhibitors and antibodies through steric interactions and to retard renal clearance through increased molecular size.  We used a more complete understanding of the solution and interfacial adsorption behavior of PEG-protein conjugates to explore new applications of protein PEGylation in bioprocessing and drug delivery. 

We have developed new, high selectivity protein affinity chromatography media by PEGylating immobilized protein affinity ligands outside of the target binding site.  This discourages the non-specific binding of contaminant species without decreasing target binding.  We find selectivity enhancements for IgG-class antibodies of 2x to 3x for Protein A affinity chromatography media modified with 5 kDa and 20 kDa PEG chains relative to the un-modified media, without loss of antibody binding affinity.  Increased contaminant rejection by Protein A media has important implications for simplifying downstream processing operations for monoclonal antibody production and for extending the operating lifetime of this expensive class of bioseparations media.

We have exploited PEGylation to reduce denaturing adsorptive interactions between proteins and interfaces that limit the successful delivery of protein drugs from poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLG) microsphere delivery systems. Oil/water interfaces are present during the generation of protein-loaded PLG microspheres by the double emulsion technique and solid/water interfaces are present as the microspheres erode during delivery.  The depressed adsorption isotherms of conjugates reduce the extent of adsorption at denaturing interfaces and the attached PEG random coils serve as steric diluents at interfaces.  While PEGylation with 20 kDa PEG has little effect on protein behavior at ethyl acetate/water interfaces, at PLG/water interfaces we find decreased extents of adsorption, increased reversibility of adsorption and decreased tendency to aggregate.  These results have translated to ~50% and ~100% improvements in active protein release for monoPEGylated and diPEGylated ribonuclease A, respectively.

 

 


Dr. Thomas Werner-Grain Processing Seminar February 8

Dr. Thomas Werner, Assistant Professor
Michigan Technological University
Department of Biological Sciences

Friday-February 8, 2013

MUB Ballroom B at 10:00am

 

The role of toolkit genes in the evolution of complex wing, thorax, and abdominal color patterns in Drosophila guttifera.

Animal color patterns such as zebra stripes, leopard spots, and the myriad variants of butterfly wing color patterns are known to play important ecological and physiological roles in the life of animals and are crucial for the survival of species. Scientists first tried to solve the secret of animal patterns with mathematical approaches to find models that could explain how these patterns developed. In 1952, Turing proposed the famous reaction-diffusion model in which a short-range acting activator molecule diffuses from a source to stimulate color production, while a long-range acting inhibitor molecule prevents pigmentation. Using the spectacularly ornamented fruit fly Drosophila guttifera, we developed a transgenic protocol to study the development and evolution of color patterns. We identified that the Wingless morphogen had evolved a new function in the D. guttifera lineage by activating the yellow gene on pre-existing structural landmarks on the wing, causing black melanin spots around sensory organs, tips of the veins, and crossveins. We are currently expanding this work by investigating if the melanin patterns on different body parts of D. guttifera evolved by the same mechanisms involving Wingless, or if they have independently evolved


Chemical Engineering Graduate Research Forum

The 1st Annual Graduate Research Forum for the Department of Chemical Engineering was held on January 24, 2013.
Judges for the Oral Presentations were:

  • Richard Donovan – Senior Research Engineer (Chemical Engineering)
  • Jay Meldrum – Director (Keweenaw Research Center)
  • Caryn Heldt – Assistant Professor (Chemical Engineering)
  • Debra Charlesworth – Assistant to the Dean (Graduate School)
    Awards will be announced on Friday, February 1, 2013, 12-1 in room 215 Chem Sci.
    Check the webpage for photos and award announcements.

  • Dr. Eric Seagren-Grain Processing Seminar November 30

    Dr. Eric Seagren from Civil & Environmental Engineering will present “Biomediated Geomechanical Processes”

    Friday-November 30, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. in  Ballroom B of the MUB

    Geoengineers have relatively recently become aware of the potential of biological applications for improving the mechanical properties of soils.  The National Research Council (2006) report, “Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium,” recognized the great potential of microorganisms for modifying soil properties in field applications and improving the practice of geoengineering in the 21st Century through biomediated geomechanical processes.  Biomediated processes can significantly impact the geomechanical behavior of earth materials.  Examples of microbially-mediated processes that have been investigated for their influences on geomechanical properties, include mineral precipitation, biofilm formation and use of biopolymers, mineral transformation, and biogenic gas production.  These activities and others can directly or indirectly alter the physical properties of soils, either permanently or temporarily.  Potential impacts of these processes on soil behavior include reductions in hydraulic conductivity, and increases in the strength and stiffness of soils.   This presentation will provide an overview of what is currently known with respect to the biomediation of geomechanical processes in soils and other construction materials.

    Refreshments will be served