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ChE Professor Rajamani Gounder named 2018 Sloan Research Fellow

Purdue Engineering professor Raj Gounder has made history as the first Purdue Chemical Engineering faculty member to receive an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. Gounder was one of 126 researchers in the United States and Canada selected for the fellowship. The distinction is given to early-career scholars who are recognized by the Sloan Foundation as the next generation of scientific leaders.

Purdue Engineering professor Raj Gounder has made history as the first Purdue Chemical Engineering faculty member to receive an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. Gounder was one of 126 researchers in the United States and Canada selected for the fellowship. The distinction is given to early-career scholars who are recognized by the Sloan Foundation as the next generation of scientific leaders.

Gounder, the Larry and Virginia Faith Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering in the Charles D. Davidson School of Chemical Engineering, researches the science of heterogeneous catalysis and chemical transformations at the molecular level. His group focuses on hydrocarbon and biomass feedstock conversion to fuels and chemicals, automotive pollution abatement and environmental protection. 

“We are delighted that Raj Gounder has become the first Purdue Chemical Engineering faculty member to receive a Sloan Fellowship. Purdue Engineering is proud of outstanding young faculty like Raj who are carrying out top-tier research and making significant contributions to the scientific and engineering communities,” says Mung Chiang, the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering. 

Gounder will receive a $65,000 two-year fellowship to further investigate materials that contain metal complexes bonded ionically to porous inorganic oxides, in a way that combines attractive properties of both homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts. This research will help catalysis to become a more quantitative and predictive science, and to remain an integral component in technologies that benefit society.

“Our research aims to help develop technologies that produce affordable and renewable forms of energy and chemicals, while protecting our environment and human health,” Gounder says. “Doing this research in an academic institution is particularly motivating because it allows working with and learning from talented, energetic, and creative students on a daily basis.”

Sloan Fellowship award categories do not specifically include engineering disciplines, but instead focus on eight scientific and technical fields--chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics. Gounder, who was educated at the University of Wisconsin and received a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, came to Purdue in 2013. He was recognized in the Sloan Fellowship chemistry division.

Gounder says his status as the first Purdue Chemical Engineering faculty member to receive a Sloan Research Fellowship is a testament to the strength of the School. “The fact that this is the first time a chemical engineer from Purdue has received this fellowship is recognition that it is an exciting time in the history of our School, as a center of excellence that fosters scientific research at the frontiers of chemistry, engineering and their allied disciplines,” Gounder says.

Adam Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, said in a statement: “The Sloan Research Fellows represent the very best science has to offer. The brightest minds, tackling the hardest problems, and succeeding brilliantly — fellows are quite literally the future of 21st century science.”

According to Gounder, the impact of the fellowship will extend well beyond his personal reach, as broader impacts of his research program include the “collective professional and technical achievements of the cadre of students I have had the privilege to mentor to become independent scientists and engineers.”

Forty-five former Sloan Fellows have won the Nobel Prize, 69 have received the National Medal of Science and 16 have won the Fields Medal in mathematics. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation was established in 1934 by Alfred P. Sloan Jr., then-president and CEO of General Motors. It makes grants in support of original research in science, technology, mathematics and economics.

Read more about Professor Rajamani Gounder at https://engineering.purdue.edu/ChE/people/ptProfile?resource_id=85277.

Read the Purdue University news release at http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2018/Q1/purdue-professor-named-2018-sloan-research-fellow.html.

Photo by Trevor Mahlmann.