Global Chemical Engineering Community Will Gather Online for Conference Offering an Expansive Technical Program and Prominent Lecturers, Nov. 16–20

American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Virtual Annual Meeting showcases a diverse profession; innovations in biotechnology, energy, health care, advanced manufacturing

New York, NY, Oct. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) will spotlight the roles that chemical engineers play in addressing societal and industrial challenges when the organization’s 2020 Annual Meeting is held as a virtual event, November 16–20.

Originally scheduled to take place in San Francisco, California, the conference is the largest AIChE meeting to date to be held virtually. Thousands of chemical engineering researchers, practitioners, entrepreneurs, and innovators from around the world will gather for the online conference, where they will engage with a program highlighting the profession’s latest developments and the myriad opportunities to apply chemical engineering expertise to help solve problems in energy, manufacturing, health care, and resource sustainability — to name some of the topics on the agenda.

In addition to exploring growth areas in chemical engineering research and application, the Virtual Annual Meeting features new topical conferences that underline the imperative for workforce equity and inclusion across industry, academia, and all of society’s enterprises. New topical conferences address the Evolving Role of Gender Dynamics, as well as Engineering for Inclusion. With global challenges necessitating a diverse workforce equipped with new skills, a Bridging the Skills Gap in Chemical Engineering track will offer skills training and highlight the value that diverse perspectives bring to projects and organizations of all kinds.

In the technical realm, a new conference will look at the challenges surrounding waste plastics. Additional program sessions amplify the Annual Meeting’s recent emphasis on the role of chemical engineers as innovators. These include conferences on Chemical Engineers in Medicine, Microbes at Biomedical Interfaces and Entrepreneurship in Chemical Engineering. The Synthetic and Renewable Fuels track explores the role of hydrogen in biofuels, while the Applications of Data Science to Molecules and Materials conference highlights advances at the nexus of data science and chemical engineering. The Next-Gen Manufacturing conference incorporates topics such as Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing, and cybersecurity.

At the associated Virtual Annual Student Conference (November 13–16), chemical engineering undergraduates worldwide will take part in online career workshops, scholarly competitions, and networking events. Highlights include a welcome keynote address by Udit Batra, Chief Executive Officer of Waters Corporation; a research poster session; a recruitment fair; and the 22nd running of AIChE’s signature Chem-E-Car Competition. Also, at the Virtual K-12 STEM Showcase, chemical engineering undergraduates and professionals will exhibit chemical engineering principles to an online audience.

With its emphasis on technical innovation and the professional growth of chemical engineers, AIChE’s Annual Meeting is the foremost educational forum for chemical engineers working in research and development. Organizers expect more than 5,000 professional engineers, scientists, and business leaders to attend the meeting to acquire insight into developments in the field’s growth areas and to connect with other professionals. The online platform is anticipated to extend participation to new audiences.


• Meet the Leaders: Engineering for Inclusion (Monday, November 16). Inclusive workplaces are prerequisites for competing in a globalized world. Panelists at this plenary session will present success stories — and unmet needs — in the efforts to achieve equity in the workforce. Participants include Christine S. Grant (North Carolina State University), Jennifer Lopez-Reed (Eli Lilly), Gary S. May (University of California, Davis), and Lori Ryerkerk (Celanese).

The P. V. Danckwerts Lecture (November 16) will be presented by Massimo Morbidelli, Professor and Dean at the Polytechnic University of Milan and Emeritus Professor at ETH Zurich, who will discuss digitalization in the manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals. The lecture is co-sponsored by AIChE, Elsevier, the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), and the European Federation of Chemical Engineering (EFCE).

The Andreas Acrivos Award for Professional Progress in Chemical Engineering Lecture (Tuesday, November 17) will be given by AIChE’s 2019 Acrivos Award recipient, Michael S. Strano, Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Strano’s lecture is entitled “Two Sides of the Same Leaf: Fluids Under Extreme Confinement and the Nanotechnology of Living Plants.”

The James E. Bailey Award Lecture (November 17) is sponsored by AIChE’s Society for Biological Engineering, and recognizes contributions in biological engineering. The 2020 lecturer is Cato T. Laurencin, University Professor and Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor, and Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering at the University of Connecticut. A pioneer in regenerative engineering, Laurencin will describe the status and future prospects of tissue engineering.

The John M. Prausnitz AIChE Institute Lecture (Wednesday, November 18) will be delivered by Michael F. Doherty, the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Chair in Process Systems Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. AIChE’s 72nd Institute Lecturer, Doherty will discuss innovation at the frontiers of chemical engineering practice and science.

The Presidential Lecture (November 18) will be delivered by Frances H. Arnold, the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology. In her talk, “Engineering by Evolution: Bringing New Chemistry to Life,” Arnold — the 2018 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry — will discuss her work in creating new enzyme catalysts and expanding the chemistry of life to include reactions that nature may not have explored.

The William R. Schowalter Lecture (Thursday, November 19) is named in honor of Schowalter, a pioneer in fluid mechanics. The lecture will be given Alice P. Gast, President of University College London, who will discuss Schowalter’s legacy in her talk “On the Shoulders of Giants: Lessons in Leadership and Collaboration from Bill Schowalter.”

The IACChE James Y. Oldshue Lecture (November 19) will be presented by Arturo Hernández-Maldonado, Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. He will discuss advances in the design of porous materials for the adsorption of water contaminants. The Oldshue lecture is presented in alternate years by AIChE and the Inter-American Confederation of Chemical Engineering (IACChE).

For information about virtual conference registration and a schedule of events, visit

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About AIChE

AIChE is a professional society of more than 60,000 chemical engineers in 110 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities, and government using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontiers of chemical engineering research in such areas as energy, sustainability, biological and environmental engineering, nanotechnology, and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at

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