Message From the Chair

Carlos M. Rinaldi-Ramos, Ph.D.

Dear Colleagues, Alumni, and Friends, 

I hope this communication finds you in good health and spirits as we face the challenges and embrace the opportunities of our time. 

I am elated to share with you that the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering has reappointed me to continue as chair of the department. It has been an exciting and productive six years, and I am honored to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity again. My commitment to advancing our department’s vision and mission remains steadfast, and I eagerly anticipate working with all our constituents to continue to elevate our department. 

Over the past six years, we have made strides of substantial magnitude. Recognition of our undergraduate and graduate programs by employers and peers continues to rise. Our research expenditures grew from $3.4 million in FY2018 to a projected >$5 million in FY 2023, mirroring the intensified research activities in our department. We successfully navigated the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring academic and research excellence while fostering a supportive environment for our students, faculty, and staff. With the recruitment of 14 exceptional new faculty, including diverse representation, we have bolstered our commitment to inclusivity and excellence. We also enhanced our Ph.D. stipend support and nurtured several programs promoting student well-being and success. In summary, these collective efforts represent the substantial growth and progress we have made as a community. 

On the faculty front, I am thrilled to announce that Dr. Carl Denard, an assistant professor in our department, has received the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award. Dr. Denard’s innovative research in cellular and protein engineering is poised to make significant contributions to disease diagnosis and treatment. Meanwhile, Dr. Piyush Jain is making ground-breaking advancements in diagnostic testing for hepatitis C and SARS-CoV-2. Utilizing AI tools, Dr. Jain is simplifying the testing process, bringing us closer to rapid, accessible, and easy-to-use tests for these viruses. 

In student news, our American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) student chapter hosted the first fully in-person AIChE Southern Student Regional Conference (ASRC) since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This marked a significant moment of rejuvenation, providing a dynamic platform for students across the region to network, hone their skills, and explore career opportunities. 

I am also proud to announce that five seniors from our department, Jostin Armada, Dylan Carman, Grace Li, Grace Shoemaker, and Brendan Wernisch, have been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. This prestigious recognition speaks volumes about the quality of our students and the future of our field. 

At the recent GRACE Symposium, we were privileged to hear from our esteemed alumnus, Dr. John Blazeck, who delivered a stirring keynote speech on his innovative approaches to combating cancer.  

All these accomplishments underscore our commitment to advancing knowledge, inspiring innovation, and nurturing a vibrant academic community. I extend my heartfelt appreciation to our faculty, staff, students, and alumni for their relentless dedication and tireless efforts. 

Thank you for your continued support, and I look forward to another productive term ahead. 

Warmest wishes, 

Carlos M. Rinaldi-Ramos, Ph.D. 

ChE Department Chair and Dean’s Leadership Professor