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AIChE 35 Under 35 Awards for Rebekah Scheuerle and William Liechty

last modified Aug 12, 2017 05:29 PM
AIChE 35 Under 35 Awards for Rebekah Scheuerle and William Liechty

Rebekah Scheuerle

Two of our alumni, Rebekah Scheuerle and William Liechty, have been recognized as outstanding young professionals by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). They are among 35 young engineers to be given the AIChE 35 Under 35 Award because they have made significant contributions to the Institute and to the chemical engineering profession.

Rebekah Scheuerle has just completed her PhD with us in the Bioscience Engineering Group. She serves as a board member of JustMilk, which is developing technology she and others have characterised in the BioScience Engineering Group.

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 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.”

William Liechty was a Gates Scholar in this department and his PhD was concerned with responsive biopolymers. He is now an Associate Research Scientist at 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."