Alums Liechty and Scheuerle Make AIChE’s 35 Under 35 List

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) along with the Young Professionals Committee (YPC) has established the AIChE 35 Under 35 Award, recognizing 35 outstanding young professional AIChE members that have made significant contributions to the institute and to the chemical engineering profession.

Two Texas ChE alumni are included in the prestigious list of award winners: William Liechty (Ph.D. ‘13) and Rebekah Scheuerle (B.S. ‘13), both former students of the Peppas lab group.

The winners exemplify the best the chemical engineering profession has to offer and represent the full breadth of early ChE career paths. Each award winner was selected for their achievements in one of seven categories: bioengineering, chemicals, education, energy, innovation, leadership, and safety.

Alumnus William LiechtyWilliam Liechty, Ph.D., 33 – Engineering Innovation
Associate Research Scientist, Dow Chemical Co.

Working on research projects during his undergraduate career put Liechty on the front line of innovation, and he hasn’t left. Now, as an associate research scientist in the food, pharmaceutical, and medical business at Dow, he is focusing on commercializing cellulose-based polymers with novel size and shape combinations and ensuring a robust supply of innovation projects.

We wouldn’t all describe our jobs as fun, but that’s exactly how Liechty describes conducting research and seeing his innovations go to market. He explains, “It is immensely satisfying and rewarding to help something go from the lab to a viable commercial technology.” Of course, his work isn’t all just fun. His ultimate focus is the customer, and he strives to help people accomplish things “safer, better, faster, cheaper, or even totally differently than they could have imagined.”

Research and innovation requires curiosity and a love of learning, and Liechty credits teachers for instilling this in him. He admires educators of all types, from his mother, a veteran elementary teacher, to the professors he conducted research with. He describes a love of learning as “the greatest gift that one can receive.”

Alumnus Rebekah ScheulereRebekah Scheuerle, Ph.D., 26 – Engineering Innovation
Board Member, JustMilk

Many infant deaths in low-resource areas could be prevented through proper administration of medicine and nutrients. At JustMilk, Scheuerle is working to characterize and develop devices that account for lack of refrigeration, literacy, and potable water to save the lives of breastfeeding infants.

Her interest in pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and devices, as well as a passion for increasing access to medicines globally, solidified into her current pursuit. Her research and work with JustMilk has garnered recognition from AIChE, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IBM, and many others. She successfully copitched the JustMilk project to win Pitch@Palace 5.0, a U.K. start-up competition.

Although she has extensive laboratory experience, Scheuerle also steps outside of the lab to investigate practices for delivering drugs to infants in Limpopo, South Africa. She says, “I enjoy communicating with potential end-users of the devices JustMilk is developing, and appreciate being able to bring their perspectives to the public.”

The awardees will be honored at an awards reception at the 2017 AIChE Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN, October 29 through November 3.


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