Chemical Engineering Welcomes New Faculty

The Department of Chemical Engineering proudly welcomes four new faculty members.

Carl Denard, Ph.D.Carl Denard, Ph.D.(Assistant Professor)
Ph.D. 2014, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Originally from Les Cayes, Haiti, Denard emigrated to the U.S. where he received his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University. He then moved to the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he obtained his Ph.D. under the tutelage of Prof. Huimin Zhao developing cooperative one-pot chemoenzymatic reactions. Currently, Denard is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Prof. Brent Iverson at the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on establishing high-throughput platforms for engineering the substrate specificity of proteases to enable their use as protein therapeutics. Denard will start Spring 2020.

LiLu T. Funkenbusch, Ph.D.LiLu Tian Funkenbusch, Ph.D. (Lecturer)
Ph.D. 2017, Michigan Technological University

Dr. LiLu T. Funkenbusch received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester in 2012. She then received her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Michigan Technological University in 2017 under the guidance of Dr. Michael E. Mullins. She continued as an instructor in the same department for a year. Her work focused on improving biorefinery designs by creating process-level reactor models to provide accurate estimates of energy and resource requirements, greenhouse gas production, and product compositions and yields. This allows the pinpointing of areas that require further economic improvement or technical development, and can improve the quality and accuracy of life cycle and technoeconomic assessments. Funkenbusch will join in Fall 2019.

Fernando Merida, Ph.D.Fernando Mérida, Ph.D. (Lecturer)
Ph.D. 2018, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

Mérida is a recent graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Chemical Engineering Ph.D. program. His current teaching interests include Unit Operations, Bioprocess Engineering, and nanoparticle-based Drug Delivery. Mérida’s research interests focus on the incorporation of educational models for optimized platforms for traditional and complementary unit operations, fermentation kinetics & modeling, and nanotechnology for fermentation and biomedical applications. Merida started Spring 2019.


Joseph A. Rollin, Ph.D.Joseph A. Rollin, Ph.D.(Assistant Professor)
Ph.D. 2013, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

After completing his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Notre Dame in 2003, Rollin served in the U.S. Army as a Combat Engineer, earning a Bronze Star Medal and achieving the rank of Captain. He subsequently earned a Ph.D. in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2013, during which time he co-founded two university spinout companies, Gate Fuels Inc. and Cell-Free Bioinnovations Inc. Joe next completed a fellowship with the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E), from 2016-2017. He has served as PI on multiple projects at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in his current role as Director’s Fellow Postdoctoral Researcher. His research focuses on using the tools of cell-free synthetic biology for the development of processes using purified enzymes to produce sustainable chemicals, fuels, and therapy-enabling materials, as well as low-cost biosensing solutions for defense and environmental applications. Rollin will start Spring 2020.