Four new faculty members join Department of Chemical Engineering

Jamie Oberdick
August 28, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Four new faculty members joined Penn State’s Department of Chemical Engineering this academic year.

Bryan D. Vogt will join the department as a professor on Aug. 15. Prior to coming to Penn State, Vogt was a professor of polymer engineering at the University of Akron. 

His accomplishments include the American Chemistry Society Petroleum Research Foundation New Investigator Award and the National Science Foundation Early Career Award. He has published over 170 articles in peer-reviewed research journals. 

Vogt’s research focuses on understanding how a material’s properties are affected by its manufacturing/processing and how these evolve in use. One example is understanding what changes the structure of a battery as it goes through during its many charging cycles and how this affects how it holds a charge and how long it lasts. Another example involves how to make 3D-printed plastic parts more durable via changing how the plastic feedstock filaments are organized as they enter the printer.

Vogt’s plans for his time at Penn State are multifold. 

“The primary product for any university is the education of its students, so I will work to provide them with the skills needed for successful careers through teaching, mentoring and advising,” Vogt said. “Second, I would like to help lead larger research efforts in 3D printing that will make Penn State the epicenter for academic research in additive manufacturing.” 

Hee Jeung Oh will join the department as an assistant professor in Jan. 2020. Prior to coming to Penn State, Oh was a postdoctoral scholar at University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and a graduate research assistant at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Oh has been published 14 times, including being featured in BBC News for her American Chemical Society (ACS) Publications journal article “3D Printed Absorber for Capturing Chemotherapy Drugs Before They Spread Through the Body.” In 2016, Oh received the ACS Editor’s Choice Article award for the article “Block Copolymer Membranes for Efficient Capture of a Chemotherapy Drug,” published in ACS Publications. She has also given 15 invited talks.

Oh’s research focuses on designing improved polymer membranes, which are designed to allow the selective and controlled transport of small molecules such as water and ions in polymers. Polymer membranes play central roles in polymer electrolytes in fuel cells and batteries, technologies related to water desalination and medical devices. One example of possible applications is biomedical filters to remove unwanted toxins from the human body. 

Oh said she chose Penn State because it has one of the largest and most respected chemical engineering departments in the world.

“My goal is to contribute to the mission of the chemical engineering department by helping to foster a community of learning and scholarship, to create new knowledge and technology and to enable our graduates to identify and achieve their goals,” Oh said. 

Amir Sheikhi will join Penn State as an assistant professor in chemical engineering on Aug. 15. Prior to coming to Penn State, Sheikhi held postdoctoral fellowships at McGill University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School. Most recently, he held a postdoctoral fellowship at the California NanoSystems Institute, part of UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Sheikhi’s research interests focus on a burgeoning class of materials called soft matter, such as hydrogels and colloidal particles. Hydrogels are polymer networks that can hold a large amount of water inside them, and colloidal particles are microscopic objects often suspended in a fluid. He micro- and nanoengineers these materials to devise accessible solutions for some of the unmet biomedical and environmental challenges of the 21st century. His research has been featured in more than 50 publications and presented at 20 seminars. In addition, his work has been covered by more than 20 news outlets, including ScienceDaily, Phys.org and Water Technology Online.

Sheikhi said he will teach a range of undergraduate and graduate core and elective courses, such as CHE 430: Chemical Reaction Engineering. He will also develop an elective course on engineering soft materials for 2020.

Along with working with top-level faculty peers in chemical engineering and other related disciplines, Sheikhi said he is looking forward to working in the new Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Building. 

“It’s a very modern building with a lot of fantastic resources, such as new classrooms, labs and so on, both for students and professors,” Sheikhi said. “I am very excited about working there.”

Ezgi Toraman joined the department on Aug. 1 as a joint appointment assistant professor with the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering. Prior to joining the Penn State faculty, Toraman served as a postdoctoral researcher with the Delaware Energy Institute at the University of Delaware.

Toraman’s research is in the field of chemical reaction engineering with a focus on understanding production processes for efficient and sustainable use of energy resources such as shale gas, biomass and plastic waste. One example of her research is developing resourceful methods to convert plastic waste into energy feedstock to reduce plastic waste. Another example is work on methane, which is the main constituent of shale gas and has the potential to be an essential source of energy and chemicals in the near future. Development of processes for enhancing the value of methane is crucial towards a sustainable and independent economy.

A strong believer in collaboration, Toraman hopes to build partnerships with faculty from other disciplines at Penn State. 

“I want to promote interdisciplinary projects which will increase the interaction between experimentalists, statisticians and theoreticians,” Toraman said. “And, bring those researchers from different backgrounds together and contribute to an effort to enhance science efficiently and rapidly. I believe Penn State will give me that opportunity to make such an impact.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 29, 2019