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Texas A&M University Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering Graduate Fellowship Winners: Baizhen Gao, Paul & Ellen Deisler Fellowship, Md Nazibul Islam, Jim and Cathy Holste Graduate Fellowship, Shuhao Liu, Phillips 66 Technical Fellowship, Ju Hyun “Julie” Oh, Phillips 66 Technical Fellowship, Trent Parker, Coleman Fellowship, Kathy Rhee, Brunner-Barnes Fellowship, Roshan Mammen Regy, Paul & Ellen Deisler Fellowship, Ruiqing “Ryan” Shen, Jim and Cathy Holste Graduate Fellowship, Jia Quan “Alan” Su, Dr. MN Karim Graduate Fellowship, Haoran Wu, Brunner-Barnes Fellowship.
The 2021 Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering graduate fellows. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Graduate fellowships provide young researchers and scholars opportunities to advance their careers and receive hands-on training in their chosen fields. The Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University named 10 students the recipients of various graduate fellowships, the most awarded in department history.

The 10 students include: Baizhen Gao, Md Nazibul Islam, Shuhao Liu, Ju Hyun “Julie” Oh, Trent Parker, Kathy Rhee, Roshan Mammen Regy, Ruiqing “Ryan” Shen, Jia Quan “Alan” Su and Haoran Wu.

"These fellowships recognize the accomplishments and success of our students," said Dr. Arul Jayaraman, chemical engineering department head and professor. "I hope it will encourage them to excel further in their academic careers."

Among these students, Rhee is the recipient of the Brunner-Barnes Fellowship and Liu is the recipient of the Phillips 66 Technical Fellowship.

"Receiving this fellowship showcases the amount of work that I have done throughout my Ph.D.," said Rhee. "It's recognition that I have worked hard for, and I am very honored to receive this prestigious fellowship."

Rhee didn’t know what she wanted to pursue for her doctorate degree when she decided to attend Texas A&M. After hearing a lecture during her first year from Dr. Pushkar Lele, associate professor in the chemical engineering department, she became fascinated with bacterial systems.

"My area of focus is bacterial motility," said Rhee. "The cells are able to swim around using appendages known as flagella that are attached to their bodies. I am particularly interested in the quantification of flagellar rotational speed and its transfer of energy.”

Liu chose Texas A&M due to the College of Engineering’s outstanding reputation. After completing his master's degree in materials science and engineering, he transferred to chemical engineering for the doctoral program. His advisor, Dr. Mustafa Akbulut, is an associate professor in the chemical engineering department.

"I first decided to join Texas A&M because the school has a strong background and various resources across many engineering fields," he said. "Dr. Akbulut has been a very kind and helpful advisor who created a path for me to achieve my research goals."

Liu's research focus encompasses many fields. He received his fellowship for extensive work in complex dynamic fluids related to oil production and the energy field.

"Receiving this opportunity is amazing to me," said Liu. "I've worked for more than four years to gather achievements in my area. I think it is confirmation of my several years of work."

Each of the recipients will conduct extensive research, receive guidance from faculty experts and be exposed to new and exciting experiences. The awardees were honored at the scholarship and fellowship banquet that took place on Thursday, Oct. 7.

Meet the 2021 chemical engineering graduate fellows

Baizen Gao
Baizhen Gao | Image: Courtesy of Baizhen Gao

Baizhen Gao: Gao is the recipient of the Paul & Ellen Deisler Fellowship. He received his Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota and joined the chemical engineering doctoral program at Texas A&M in 2016. He collaborates with Dr. Qing Su, assistant professor in the chemical engineering department. His research interests include microbe-host interactions and strategies to improve RNA stability. Gao was published in Nature Communications for his work titled, "Programming gene expression in multicellular organisms for physiology modulation through engineered bacteria." He has two other notable publications including, "Nucleic Transformer: Deep Learning on Nucleic Acids with Self-attention and Convolutions," and "A peek in the micro-sized world: a review of design principles, engineering tools and applications of engineered microbial community."

Md Nazibul Islam
Md Nazibul Islam | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Md Nazibul Islam: Islam was awarded the Jim and Cathy Holste Graduate Fellowship. He completed his Bachelor of Science at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and joined the chemical engineering doctoral program at Texas A&M in 2018. He is working with Dr. Zachary Gagnon, associate professor in the chemical engineering department, to develop a low-cost sensor that uses interfacial electrokinetics to characterize biomolecular interactions. He has a provisional patent application for his innovation and has received grants from the Texas A&M Innovation Corps Site and the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps. His research has received over 160 citations.

Shuhao Liu
Shuhao Liu | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Shuhao Liu: Liu is the recipient of the Phillips 66 Technical Fellowship. He received his Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Nanjing University of Technology and Science, China, and joined Texas A&M to pursue his master's degree in materials science and engineering in 2016. He is now working toward his chemical engineering doctoral degree with guidance from Akbulut. Liu is working with functional nanoparticles, antimicrobial coatings and materials, dynamic complexes fluid for oil production and thermal management materials. He has published six first-author papers and eight co-author papers. His paper "Dual-functional, superhydrophobic coatings with bacterial anticontact and antimicrobial characteristics" was published in Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Ju Hyun “Julie” Oh
Ju Hyun “Julie” Oh | Image: Courtesy of Ju Hyun “Julie” Oh

Ju Hyun “Julie” Oh: Oh was awarded the Phillips 66 Technical Fellowship. She completed her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science at Korea University, South Korea, and joined the Texas A&M chemical engineering doctoral program in 2018. She is working with Dr. Micah Green, professor in the chemical engineering department. Her research interests include radiofrequency heating, nanomaterials, conductive polymers and actuators. She has 14 peer-reviewed journal articles that include three first-author papers.

Trent Parker
Trent Parker | Image: Courtesy of Trent Parker

Trent Parker: Parker is the recipient of the Coleman Fellowship. He achieved his Bachelor of Science at McNeese State University, Louisiana, then joined the chemical engineering doctoral program at Texas A&M in 2018. He is working with Dr. Qingsheng Wang, associate professor in the chemical engineering department. His research interests are process safety, human factors, runaway reactions and thermal hazard analysis. He has been the lead author on three papers and co-author on seven papers. He also received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Award for Academic Excellence in 2016.

Roshan Mammen Regy
Roshan Mammen Regy | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Roshan Mammen Regy: Regy has received the Paul & Ellen Deisler Fellowship. Regy earned his Bachelor of Engineering in chemical engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India, in 2017. Coming to Texas A&M as a fourth-year doctoral student, Regy works alongside Dr. Jeetain Mittal, professor in the chemical engineering department. Regy has authored eight research articles in peer-reviewed journals during the past three years, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nucleic Acids Research. Previously, he received fellowships and awards, such as the Mohamed El-Aasser Travel Award and the Leonard A. Wenzel Award for his performance in the Ph.D. qualifying examination.

Kathy Rhee
Kathy Rhee | Image: Courtesy of Kathy Rhee

Kathy Rhee: Rhee is the recipient of the Brunner-Barnes Fellowship. She received her Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, and joined the chemical engineering doctoral program at Texas A&M in 2017. She is working with Lele, and her research focuses on quantitative assay development for bacterial systems. She has published three papers, in one of which she is the first author. Previously, she received the Engineering Merit Graduate Fellowship and won third place for an oral presentation at the Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association Symposium.

Ruiqing “Ryan” Shen
Ruiqing “Ryan” Shen | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Ruiqing “Ryan” Shen: Shen was awarded the Jim and Cathy Holste Graduate Fellowship. He completed his Bachelor of Science at Oklahoma State University and joined the chemical engineering doctoral program at Texas A&M in 2019. Shen is working with Wang, and his research interests are flame-retardant materials, polymer nanocomposites and chemical process safety. So far, he has authored over 27 peer-reviewed journal articles, served as a reviewer for 16 journals and delivered three technical presentations. One of his studies, "Manufacturing of High-Performance Intumescent Flame-Retardant Polymers," is patent pending.

Jia Quan “Alan” Su
Jia Quan “Alan” Su | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Jia Quan “Alan” Su: Su received the Dr. MN Karim Graduate Fellowship. The Dr. MN Karim Graduate Fellowship was established by the department to honor the late department chair, Dr. Naz Karim, who tragically passed away in 2019. He completed his Bachelor of Science from National Taiwan University and joined the chemical engineering doctoral program at Texas A&M in 2018. His research interests include thin film nano and microelectronics, and plasma technology on applications in electronics and optoelectronics. He works with Dr. Yue Kuo, professor in the chemical engineering department. Su has four years of experience working in a class 100 clean room and over 10 papers and presentations in top-tier conferences. He is the recipient of the best presenter award in the eighth Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association Symposium and the Qualifying Exam Excellence Award.

Haoran Wu
Haoran Wu | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Haoran Wu: Wu was awarded the Brunner-Barnes Fellowship. He received his Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Qingdao University of Science and Technology, China. In 2016, Wu joined Texas A&M as a master's student and transferred to the chemical engineering department's doctoral program. Working with Dr. Mark Holtzapple, professor in the chemical engineering department, Wu's research interests include sustainable production of chemicals and fuels from renewable resources and low-cost bioseparations. He conducted research at Argonne National Laboratory to successfully develop a novel bioprocess for the valorization of waste streams through the carboxylate platform. He has four journal publications and multiple conference presentations.