Graduate Research

There is ample opportunity for students to conduct research in fulfillment of their Masters degree in Chemical Engineering. Visit the CPB faculty research page to see what fields they are working on and select the topic which interests you. Make arrangements to discuss your interest with them. The next step is up to you! 

Current & Past Projects

Biosynthesis of High-Value Natural Products for Pharmaceutical Applications

The Jones lab focuses on the development of efficient microbial hosts for the production of industrially relevant, high-value products. To accomplish this, the DNA encoding the biosynthetic pathways from natural producers is cloned and expressed in a variety of genetically tractable bacterial and fungal hosts. These hosts are then subjected to an array of genetic and fermentation optimization techniques with the goal of enhancing the final concentration (titer), rate of production (productivity), and efficiency of production (yield) of the target chemical. One such recent success, highlighted in the article, "In vivo production of psilocybin in E. coli", is the production of psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound found naturally in 'magic' mushrooms. Despite being federally illegal in most countries around the world, recent clinical studies in the US and Europe are beginning to highlight the ability of psilocybin to help patients struggling with a range of neurological disorders including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. Efforts are currently underway to commercialize this technology developed at Miami University. Visit the article, "Miami University researchers collaborate with PsyBio Therapeutics", to learn more.

CO2 reforming of methane

In this research we will investigate the role of Mn on Ni catalysts supported on zeolites for dry CO2 reforming of methane. The product of this reaction is syngas (CO and H2), which is intermediate to other hydrocarbons, or it can be used directly for energy generation. Currently catalysts deactivate quickly in this reaction due to carbon deposition. Our hypothesis is that the addition of Mn on or within the catalyst will inhibit carbon deposition, thus overcoming one of the challenges of this reaction.

Photo catalytic oxidation of fuel vapors

In this project we will assess the feasibility of using a photo catalytic film and ultraviolet LEDs in the fuel vapor recovery system to degrade fuel vapors before they are emitted to the environment. Currently carbon canisters adsorb fuel vapors when a car is parked or being refueled. The carbon becomes saturated with fuel vapors over time, and subsequently the fuel vapors are emitted to the environment. This project will assess the feasibility of using a photo catalytic film and UV LEDS to degrade the fuel vapors before they are emitted. 

Hierarchical Composite Constructs as Tissue Engineering Scaffolds

Developing clinically-relevant bioengineered bone involves challenges in terms of mass transport requirements due to high metabolic activity of bone cells. The composite scaffolds we are developing in this study contain orthogonally-interconnected macrochannels produced by additive manufacturing (3D-Bioplotting). The microporous matrix surrounding these channels is generated by thermally-induced phase separation and contain hydroxyapatite nanoparticles. These scaffolds are seeded with human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) and MC3T3-E1 preosteoblastic cells under static and dynamic conditions in media that induce osteogenic differentiation.

Using Ionic Liquid Mixtures for the Extraction of Organosulfur Compounds from Petroleum Streams

This work focuses on the development of novel solvents for the physical solvent extraction of organosulfur compounds from diesel fuel. We seek solvents with a greater affinity and selectivity for organosulfurs. Additionally we seek solvents with reduced volatility to minimize solvent loss. Extraction processes are expensive due to their large solvent requirements, so just a small improvement of current technologies could have a great impact. Specifically, we will study the use of ionic liquid and ionic liquid mixtures as replacement solvents using a combination of molecular simulation and thermodynamic modeling.