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Dr. Joseph Kwon
Dr. Joseph Kwon has been honored with the 2023 James M. Lee Memorial Award. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

For his scholarly contribution in the field of chemical engineering, Dr. Joseph Kwon has been selected as the recipient of the 2023 James M. Lee Memorial Award.

Kwon, associate professor and holder of the Kenneth R. Hall Career Development Professorship in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, will receive the award from the Korean Institute of Chemical Engineers (KIChE) during the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual fall meeting in Orlando.

KIChE is a professional organization that dedicates and honors Korean and Korean-American scientists and engineers who have advanced theory and application of chemical engineering technology and have contributed to scientific and engineering knowledge in the chemical engineering field.

“Receiving this award is a great privilege, and I am deeply honored,” Kwon said. “I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of my collaborators and former and current students in my research group. As part of the proceedings, I will deliver a presentation at a special session organized by KIChE.”

Kwon’s award is connected through the work he has done which focuses on multiscale modeling, digital twin, hybrid modeling (machine learning plus first principles), sparse model identification, fault prognosis, systems biology and kinetic Monte Carlo simulation.

“I am recognized for my notable contributions to multiscale and data-driven modeling and control, as well as their practical applications in the oil and gas, pharmaceutical and biomanufacturing industries,” Kwon said. “I understand the importance of accurate solutions to first-principles models, especially in complex multiscale systems like moving boundary problems.”

Because real-life processes often have discrepancies between the plant and the model, Kwon addressed this by creating a hybrid modeling framework that merges first-principles kinetic models with data-driven approaches. This process comes with challenges, he said.

“The widespread utilization of this approach for process modeling and control faces three main challenges, such as generating hybrid models by combining various first-principles models and data-driven models,” Kwon said. “Additional challenges are reducing computational requirements and designing control and optimization strategies that meet product specifications while reducing operating and material costs.”

Kwon addressed these challenges by developing a graphical user interface framework to automate the hybrid modeling process.

“This will improve the traditional models' predictive capability by revealing time-varying dependencies among parameters and variables,” Kwon said. “The hybrid model designed using this framework has been used to estimate unmeasurable variables and increase production rate and yield while minimizing resource utilization and raw material usage.”

This award provides Kwon a chance to contribute positively to chemical engineering and allows him to pursue innovative solutions and differences in the industry, he said.

“This not only strengthens my commitment to my work but also boosts my confidence as I continue to strive for excellence,” Kwon said. “It serves as an important testament to my abilities and achievements. I believe it will inspire me to tackle new challenges and further develop my skills, all of which are crucial for my future career growth.”

The award is named after Dr. James Lee, a distinguished professor of chemical engineering for about 30 years at Washington State University. He was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1946, where he received his master’s degree in chemical engineering.

The KIChE-US Chapter was founded in 2002 with the goal of promoting constructive and mutually beneficial interactions among Korean chemical engineers in the US and facilitating international collaboration between engineers in the US and Korea.

“This recognition reflects the hard work and dedication of my former and current students in my research group over the past several years,” Kwon said. “This award is not just a recognition of my past achievements but a key that opens doors to future opportunities. I am deeply honored and incredibly motivated to leverage this opportunity to its fullest potential."