Graduate Students Win Top Spots in P&G Seminar Competition

ChE graduate students Amanda Lanza and Lavanya Mohan recently won first and second place in the 2012 Proctor & Gamble (P&G) Seminar Competition at UT Austin, respectively.

Headshot of graduate student Amanda LanzaLanza won first place for her seminar entitled, “Developing New Biotechnology Tools for Understanding and Engineering Cellular Hosts.” She was also awarded a $1,000 prize and a trophy. Second place went to Lavanya Mohan for her presentation, “Design of Soft Particle Suspension Based Rheological Additives,” which came with a $500 prize.  Both students were selected as finalists to present to judges from P&G out of dozens of submitted abstracts.

Lanza develops tools to manipulate and engineer cellular hosts that exist in nature. “We can utilize the variety of organisms in nature to make a diversity of products that are useful, including biofuels, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and commodity chemicals,” Lanza said.  Some of her work will be applied to treatments of genetic disorders and understanding cellular aging.

Advised by Professor Hal Alper, Lanza has won several awards this year including, Top Overall Poster in the Student/Young Investigator Poster Award Competition, the Jeff Byers Memorial Graduate Award in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and a $15,000 merit-based Philanthropic Educational Organization Scholar Award.

“This is another great honor for Amanda,” Alper said. “It is exciting that she has been honored for both her excellent presentation skills and the quality of her ongoing Ph.D. research through this seminar competition.”

Graduate student Lavanya Mohan  outside of the Chemical & Petroleum Engineering BuildingSecond place winner, Lavanya Mohan creates computational and theoretical tools to understand and design soft particle pastes. “My research looks at the rheology, or flow behavior, of soft particle pastes used as additives in shampoos, body lotions and textured food products like ice creams that give these items their combination of solid like and liquid like behavior,” Mohan said.  “During the seminar competition, I spoke about the simulations and theories I have developed for this purpose and how they can be useful in designing these materials based on product requirements.”

Mohan participated in a 6-month exchange program at the ESPCI ParisTech research center in Paris this summer, funded by the Chateaubriand Fellowship and Eiffel Fellowship. Some of Mohan’s work was published earlier this year in Nature Materials and Soft Matter.  She is advised by Professor Roger Bonnecaze.



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