Quarterly news from Princeton's Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

CBE in Brief
Summer offers a chance for reflection and deep thinking, and at the same time demands that we look ahead to the year to come. In this second volume of the CBE email newsletter, we take stock of the accomplishments of some recent graduates and applaud the excellence of our educators.

We also bring news of breakthroughs and advancements from teams across the department and beyond. Molecular or cellular, topological or thermodynamic, the approaches you will read about have in common one idea above all: the drive to translate fundamental inquiry into viable solutions for our world.

Finally, in this volume we celebrate the heartbeat of our program, the students. Each class seems to grow better equipped and more diverse than its predecessors. The class of 2018 proved that rule and exemplified the strong sense of community I am proud to count as a hallmark of our department. I wish them each and all a warm congratulations, a fond farewell and many happy occasions to return.
Thanos Panagiotopoulos, Chair
Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Princeton University
In results published June 18 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mark Brynildsen and postdoctoral researcher Wendy Mok analyzed the responses of E. coli bacteria to treatment with ofloxacin, an antibiotic that causes DNA damage by blocking enzymes needed for DNA replication and RNA transcription. Their work built on previous results from Brynildsen’s lab, which showed that persistent bacteria needed DNA-repair machinery to survive.

Microtubules are tiny structures that give a cell its architecture. To understand their development, a recent study turned a novel imaging technique onto a protein called XMAP215, previously thought to help only in elongation. It turns out XMAP215 is essential in the first stages of formation — one part in a molecular duet that nucleates the microtubule. The study was led by Sabine Petry, an assistant professor of molecular biology, with Akanksha Thawani, a fourth-year graduate student in chemical and biological engineering and first author on the paper. The work appears in the May issue of the journal Nature Cell Biology.

Further discovery . . .

S. Shvartsman, et al, show how mathematical packing problems shed light on animal development (Nature Physics)

A. J. Link, et al, developed a new methodology for sequencing macrocyclic and lasso peptides (Angewandte Chemie)

Recent alumnus J. O. Park, et al, conclude that E. coli protein-production strategies differ in carbon, nitrogen and phospherous (Nature Microbiology)

R. A. Register, R. K. Prud'homme, A. Z. Panagiotopoulos and R. D. Priestley, et al, use Flashnanoprecipitation to prepare internally structured colloids from blends of block copolymers (ACS Nano)
Clifford Brangwynne, whose research explores the hidden order within cellular liquid, has been named a 2018 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Brangwynne, an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, was one of 19 new investigators named by the institute on May 23.

“I’m incredibly honored,” said Brangwynne. “It’s a wonderful vote of confidence in me and my research, which emboldens me to push into totally new territory.”
Before engineers can build a reactor to produce electricity from fusion, they have to make the reactor’s walls able to withstand the heat and energetic particles from the reactions. It is a hellish environment. Bruce Koel has spent decades studying the surfaces of materials and recently began investigating the materials science needed for fusion energy. Last year, he asked one of his undergraduate students — Meagan Yeh — to examine a new approach. She undertook the effort as part of her senior thesis project, testing and analyzing nano-grained tungsten for use in a fusion reactor.
Students in the course "Laboratory Techniques in Materials Science and Engineering" (MSE 302) are learning how to use large and sophisticated pieces of equipment to probe materials that are several times smaller than the width of a human hair. Rodney Priestley, featured in the video above, is one of three instructors for the course.

Graduate alumnus Yogesh Goyal has been named to the inaugural class of Schmidt Science Fellows, a postdoctoral program that strives to “drive world-changing advances across the sciences and society.” Goyal arrived at Princeton in 2012 having trained strictly as a chemical engineer. But his work quickly evolved into a collaboration with departments and labs across the campus, connecting with researchers in molecular biology and genomics. He completed his Ph.D. in chemical and biological engineering in 2017.

Richard Register received the engineering school's Distinguished Teacher Award. Students noted Register's responsiveness to their questions, encouraging them "to read more and think further.”

Stanislav Shvartsman received a Graduate Mentoring Award from the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning. Former students said Shvartsman remains interested in their careers well after graduation, providing contacts and reviewing tenure applications.
Local News . . .

A. James Link has been named Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. Link was first appointed to the Princeton faculty as assistant professor in 2007 and promoted to associate professor in 2013. His promotion to professor took effect July 1, 2018.

José Avalos received a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, one of 31 recipients picked to “further the ongoing revolution in biology and biotechnology.” Avalos was also honored with a 2018 National Science Foundation Career Award.

Sujit Datta was awarded a 2018 Faculty Research Award from the Grand Challenges initiative of the Princeton Environmental Institute. Datta will work with Maurizio Chiaramonte of civil and environmental engineering to model the transport of natural gas hydrates.

Annabel Lemma received a Teaching Award from the Graduate School, one of eight graduate students across the University honored for her "excellence in teaching and service."

Class of 2018, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Three graduating seniors from the department were honored with Class Day Awards from the engineering school:

  • Emily Schneider of Fairfax, Virginia, who will be a research associate at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT;
  • Amanuella Mengiste of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who will pursue a doctorate in chemistry at MIT;
  • Sally Jiao, of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, who will pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara as the holder of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Ten students from the 2018 graduating class received senior awards from the department, honored in a ceremony on Class Day.

Taylor Bacon, a member of the Class of 2019, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, was awarded with an International Streiker Fellowship.

Florence Odigie, a member of the Class of 2020, chronicled her time at the 44th Annual Convention of the Society of Black Engineers.

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Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
School of Engineering and Applied Science
Princeton University

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