https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Brenda-Barnicki.aspx590Alumni Profile: Brenda (Westbrook) Barnicki<p>While a degree from the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis prepares students for a wide variety of careers, Brenda (Westbrook) Barnicki may have stretched hers among the farthest — she's now a chocolatier.<br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/Brenda%20Barnicki.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>Barnicki, who earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1986, spent 25 years as a chemical engineer, including four years with Amoco at a refinery and 21 years with Eastman Chemical Co. in numerous roles. After her position as a vice president of technology at Eastman was eliminated in a company restructuring in 2011, Barnicki took some time to evaluate what to do with the second half of her career. She decided to turn her evening and weekend hobby of making chocolate truffles into a business that donates all of its proceeds to nonprofit organizations worldwide that help children in orphanages, in situations of abuse and neglect, suffering from diseases or living in poverty. Her goal is to write $1 million checks to children's charities.</p><p>While it was a big step of faith to open the business, Barnicki says she feels she is doing what she is called to do. </p><p>"I was happy and settled and comfortable in my job, and I don't know that I would have done this on my own," she says. "But it has been the best move and the best thing that could have happened to me. I feel so much more fulfilled, and I feel like I'm making a difference." </p><p>Based in Kingsport, Tenn., Bellafina Chocolates specializes in made-to-order truffles that include no preservatives or added sugars and come in a variety of flavors, such as espresso, mint, orange and moonshine (her personal favorite). Although Barnicki went to the Culinary Institute of America to learn advanced chocolate techniques, the recipes are all her own. </p><p>In addition to running a small retail shop in downtown Kingsport, she also customizes truffles and their packaging with company logos and other designs for corporate gifts. The boxes of chocolate, which she can ship nationwide, also include a card that explains that the proceeds help children's charities. Bellafina has won accolades for its work, including the Kingsport Office of Small Business & Entrepreneurship Award in 2012 and 2016. </p><p>The business is run primarily by volunteers, but with her company growing by more than 50 percent a year, Barnicki has added a few part-time employees who may need a helping hand. </p><p>"I'm really focusing on women coming out of recovery or have been incarcerated, suffered abuse situations or had some personal struggles that have caused them to need some help to get themselves established," she says. "I would love it if by the time I decide to retire that some of the women I'm hiring would run the company." </p><p>Bellafina's volunteers, which include retired women business owners, former teachers and some stay-at-home mothers, also act as mentors to each other and to the women in the paid positions, she says. </p><p>While running a chocolate-focused social enterprise seems far removed from engineering, Barnicki says it is very closely related. </p><p>"If I think about my chemical engineering degree, the things I learned at WashU set me on this journey and career," she says. "It was a progression of experiences and gaining more skills and responsibility and more connections. I've got a production process, and when I look at it, I'm using the basics of things I learned both at WashU and the manufacturing part of my career, including quality and consistency and root cause failure analysis." </p><p>Her business also incorporates what she learned from earning a master's degree in management from the University of Tennessee and a certificate in leadership from the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program. </p><p>"All of those things were leading up to where I am now," she says. "It really enforces this belief that I have that God has a plan for you. Some of the things that I didn't want have been the things that have turned out to be the most important." </p><p> </p><span><hr/></span><p>The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 90 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,200 undergraduate students, 1,200 graduate students and 21,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.<br/></p>Brenda (Westbrook) Barnicki (Photo credit: Images by Carey Pace)Beth Miller 2017-03-22T05:00:00ZBrenda Barnicki EN '86 took the sweet route — from chemical engineer to chocolatier.<p>A sweet route from chemical engineer to chocolatier<br/></p>
https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/A-probiotic-stress-fix.aspx586A probiotic stress fix<p>An engineer at Washington University in St. Louis is working to create a probiotic that would help protect the host from the negative health effects of adrenaline surges. The new probiotic could easily be mixed into yogurt or taken in pill form.<br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/WashU%20Engineering%20A%20probiotic%20stress%20fix.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>U.S. Sailors and Marines face continuous periods of excessive stress in "fight-or-flight" situations, triggering surges of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, often known as an adrenaline rush. While these surges are important for relaying messages in the brain, prolonged high levels can cause long-term health problems, including anxiety and susceptibility to infection.</p><p>Imagine if a naval officer and other members of the Navy could swallow a probiotic pill or yogurt to better protect them from the effects of these surges.</p><p>Tae Seok Moon, an engineer in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, is working to create a probiotic from a commercially-available, beneficial bacterial strain of Escherichia coli after receiving a three-year, $508,635 grant from the Office of Naval Research's 2017 Young Investigator Program. The nationwide award was one of 33 given to early-career engineers and scientists from more than 360 applicants.</p><p>Moon, assistant professor of energy, environmental and chemical engineering, specializes in building synthetic gene circuits to control and improve cellular process for human-defined functions. For this project, he will change the genes of E. coli Nissle 1917, then study its administration as a probiotic supplement to regulate the neurotransmitters in the brain and gut in an animal model of anxiety. Eventually, such an approach may offer improved protection of humans from the harmful effects of long-term exposure.</p><p>The human gut hosts a community of more than 100 trillion microbial cells that influence physiology, metabolism, nutrition and immune function. Previous studies by other researchers have shown the gut microbiota may influence the brain neurotransmitter systems, development of emotional behavior and stress- and pain-modulation systems. Probiotics are live microorganisms intended to have health benefits and are often given as supplements to treat digestive, allergic and other disorders.</p><p>"We tend to think the gut and the brain are separate, but recently, more researchers think they are connected through the microbiota-gut-brain axis," he said. "Because I'm an engineer, I asked how I could make probiotic bacteria that could be applied to this concept and deepen understanding of that connection."</p><p>In 2013, Moon received a Grand Challenges Explorations Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to engineer probiotic bacteria that would be added to foods to kill intestinal parasites. In 2014, he received the National Science Foundation's CAREER Award given to early-career investigators.</p><p>Moon joined the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis in July 2012. Before earning a doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009, Moon worked in industry for LG Chemical Ltd., LG Chem Investment Ltd. and LG Life Sciences Ltd. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Seoul National University.</p><p>The Office of Naval Research's Young Investigator Program is one of the most selective scientific research advancement programs for investigators who have obtained a tenure-track position within the past five years and whose work shows promise to support the Department of Defense as well as their own professional development.<br/></p><p>​<br/></p> <span> <div class="cstm-section"><h3>Real-world<br/>Application<br/></h3><div><p style="text-align: center;"> <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Tae-Seok-Moon.aspx"><img src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Moon_Tae-Seok.jpg?RenditionID=3" class="ms-rtePosition-4" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/></a><br/></p><div style="text-align: center;"><div style="text-align: center;"> Tae Sook Moon is working to create a probiotic that, when mixed into yogurt or taken as a pill, could combat the negative health effects of adrenaline rush and excessive stress.</div> <br/> <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Tae-Seok-Moon.aspx">View Bio</a></div></div></div></span><br/><br/>An engineer at Washington University in St. Louis is working to create a probiotic that would help protect the host from the negative health effects of adrenaline surges. The new probiotic could easily be mixed into yogurt or taken in pill form.Beth Miller2017-03-21T05:00:00ZAn engineer at Washington University in St. Louis is using a mouse model to develop a probiotic that, when mixed into yogurt or taken as a pill, could combat the negative health effects of adrenaline rush and excessive stress.<p>WashU engineer to test E. coli strain to balance effects of ‘adrenaline rush’ in soldiers<br/></p>
https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Engineering-students-receive-prestigious-Graduate-Research-Fellowships-.aspx588Engineering students receive prestigious Graduate Research Fellowships <p>​Three seniors and a doctoral student in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis have been chosen for the competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. <br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/washu%20engineering%20commencement.JPG?RenditionID=2" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>The fellowship, the oldest of its kind, awards a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 as well as a $12,000 allowance for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education. From more than 13,000 applications received for the 2017 competition, the NSF awarded 2,000 fellowships.</p><p>The new fellows are:</p><ul><li><p><strong>Savannah Est</strong>, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering with a minor in materials science & engineering;</p></li><li><p><strong>Roger Albert Iyengar</strong>, a senior majoring in computer science; </p></li><li><p><strong>Corban Swain</strong>, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering;</p></li><li><p><strong>Ian Berke</strong>, a first-year doctoral student in biomedical engineering. </p></li></ul><p>Three undergraduate Engineering students and two alumni received honorable mentions, which is considered a significant national academic achievement. They are: </p><ul><li><p><strong>Ananya Benegal</strong>, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering with a minor in mechanical engineering and a master's student in mechanical engineering;</p></li><li><p><strong>Arnold Tao</strong>, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering;</p></li><li><p><strong>Louis Shen Wang</strong>, a senior majoring in chemical engineering with a minor in chemistry;</p></li><li><p><strong>Timothy Bartholomew</strong>, who earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 2015 and is now a graduate student at Carnegie-Mellon University.</p></li><li><p><strong>Pratik Singh Sachdeva</strong>, who earned a bachelor's degree in applied science in 2015 and is now a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley.<br/></p></li></ul><p>The Graduate Research Fellowship has a history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. Many become life-long leaders that contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners; U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu; Google founder Sergey Brin; and Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt. Since 1952, NSF has funded more than 50,000 Graduate Research Fellowships out of more than 500,000 applicants. <br/></p>Beth Miller 2017-03-20T05:00:00ZThree seniors and a doctoral student have been chosen for the competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Environmental-budget-cuts-could-be-grim.aspx585Environmental budget cuts could be ‘grim’<p>​The public is getting its first look at the Trump administration budget proposal, which includes steep cuts to federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency — with a 31-percent proposed reduction and its Office of Research and Development set to be slashed — and the National Institutes of Health decreased by nearly 20 percent. A pair of engineers who are water and air-quality experts at Washington University in St. Louis say the budget moves could signal sweeping changes in the way our nation regulates and researches the environment.<br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/WashU%20Experts%20Environmental%20budget%20cuts%20could%20be%20grim.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>“The EPA funds research in its own national laboratories, such as the National Risk Management Research Laboratory in Cincinnati, and at universities,” said <a href="https://source.wustl.edu/experts/dan-giammar/">Dan Giammar</a>, the Walter E. Browne Professor of Environmental Engineering at the School of Engineering & Applied Science, whose research focus is water quality.</p><p>“There are some pressing challenges in securing the quality of our nation’s drinking water that will require continued investments in research.  For example, the NRMRL has experts and facilities that are uniquely poised to address lead and other distribution-system water quality issues like those of the Flint water crisis.  Another example is the need for research on the water quality in buildings, which again was exemplified by the crisis in Flint, and the EPA is one of the few organizations that would have such research in its scope.”</p><p><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Rajan-Chakrabarty.aspx">Rajan Chakrabarty</a>, assistant professor of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering researches air quality and the role of particulate emissions in the atmosphere.</p><p>“The EPA budget cuts come on the heels of recent observations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of a 6-parts-per-million surge in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration levels in the past two years (2015 and 2016), which is an unprecedented amount in the Mauna Loa Baseline observatory’s 59-year record,” Charkabarty said.</p><p>“With the new administration enacting severe budget cuts for the agency, which includes trimming down key climate change programs and core initiatives aimed at protecting air and water quality, we are headed towards grim consequences of climate change on society at large.<br/></p><p>“The (Trump administration cites a) lack of concrete and inconclusive science backing the role of CO2 has been a factor influencing these budget cuts. Interestingly enough, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first quantitative estimate of global warming by a climate model, described in the landmark 1967 publication titled “Thermal Equilibrium of the Atmosphere with a Given Distribution of Relative Humidity” by Drs. Syukuro Manabe and Richard T. Wetherald.  A major finding of this paper was that doubling of atmospheric CO2 levels would have an effect of raising the temperature of the atmosphere by about 2 degrees Celsius. The impending dangers associated with CO2 and global warming were clearly laid out and quantified 50 years ago. The current administration should be wary of this fact and take such important scientific findings into consideration in their decision-making processes and policies.”<br/></p><p><br/></p><span><hr/></span><p>Giammar and Chakrabarty may be reached for further comment: <a href="mailto:giammar@wustl.edu">giammar@wustl.edu</a> and <a href="mailto:chakrabarty@wustl.edu">chakrabarty@wustl.edu</a><br/></p><p>The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 90 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,200 undergraduate students, 1,200 graduate students and 21,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.<br/></p>​ <div>​<br/> <div class="cstm-section"><h3>WashU Experts</h3><div style="text-align: center;"> <strong><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Daniel-Giammar.aspx"><img src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Giammar_Daniel.jpg?RenditionID=3" alt="Daniel Giammar" style="margin: 5px;"/></a><br/><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Daniel-Giammar.aspx"><strong>Daniel Giammar</strong></a><br/> </strong> </div><div style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: 12px;">Walter E. Browne<br/> Professor of Environmental Engineering</span> </div><div> <strong> <br/> </strong> </div><div style="text-align: center;"> <strong><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Rajan-Chakrabarty.aspx"><img src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Chakrabarty_Rajan.jpg?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin: 5px; width: 120px; height: 120px;"/></a>​​</strong> </div><div style="text-align: center;"> <strong> <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Rajan-Chakrabarty.aspx"> <strong>Rajan Chakrabarty</strong></a></strong> </div><div style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: 12px;">Assistant Professor</span></div><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 12px;">Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering</span></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br/></div></div>  ​ <div>​​<br/></div>​ <div></div></div> <br/>A pair of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis say proposed federal budget cuts could have a lasting impact on how our country researches and regulates the environment.Erika Ebsworth-Goold2017-03-16T05:00:00ZA pair of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis say proposed federal budget cuts to science programs and agencies could signal sweeping changes in the way our nation regulates and researches the environment.
https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Preventing-lead-spread.aspx584Preventing lead spread<p>​​<span aria-hidden="true"></span>While lead pipes were banned decades ago, they still supply millions of American households daily with drinking water amid risks of corrosion and leaching that can cause developmental and neurological effects in young children.<br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/washu%20engineering%20pratim%20biswas%20water.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>One common abatement: Dig up old lead lines and replace a portion of them with another metal, such as copper.  However, this technique can dislodge lead particulates and release them into the water supply.  Furthermore, partially replacing the lead pipe connection instead of entirely exchanging it is problematic.</p><p>A team of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis has developed a new way to model and track where lead particles might be transported during the partial-replacement process, in an effort to keep the water supply safer.<br/></p><p>“We all know lead is not safe, it needs to go,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor of International Programs <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Pratim-Biswas.aspx">Pratim Biswas</a>, the Lucy and Stanley Lopata Professor and the chair of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering at the School of Engineering & Applied Science. “This is the first comprehensive model that works as a tool to help drinking water utility companies and others to predict the outcome of an action. If they have the necessary information of a potential action, they can run this model and it can advise them on how best to proceed with a pipe replacement to ensure there are no adverse effects.”<br/></p><p>In the research, recently accepted by the journal <a href="http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021%2Facs.est.6b04994">Environmental Science & Technology</a>, Biswas and graduate research assistant Ahmed A. Abokifa present their approach, which predicts how far lead particles and dissolved species might travel after they’ve been disturbed. Utilizing water quality modeling they’d previously developed for the Environmental Protection Agency, Biswas and his team built a new computational model to predict lead particulate release, taking into account factors such as pipe age and dimensions, water-use patterns, water chemistry, and previous pipe disturbances.<br/></p><div style="color: #666666; background-color: #f6f6f6; font-size: 0.9em; font-style: italic; text-align: center; margin: 0px 0px 1em;"> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/washu%20engineering%20pratim%20biswas%20lead%20water%20replacement.jpeg" alt=""/> <br/>This diagram shows the new model at work: By taking into account a number of factors, including water-use patterns and water chemistry, engineers can predict where lead particles will dislodge and end up in the drinking water supply during a partial lead service line (LSL) replacement. Courtesy: Biswas Lab </div><p>After running a number of simulations testing their predictions, Biswas and his team are ready to make their model widely available to utility companies and even consumers. Biswas said the companies can input their individual system’s information, and receive recommendations so partial-pipe replacement can proceed without compromising water quality.  Abokifa and Biswas have developed several other drinking water distribution system models to accurately predict disinfectant concentrations in the pipe network, especially dead end systems.</p><p>“We’ll work to make these accurate models readily available, so utilities can download and use them,” he added. “The predictions of the model will guide them on best practices to ensure the safety of the public at large.”<br/></p><p> <br/> </p> <span><hr/></span> <p>The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 90 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,200 undergraduate students, 1,200 graduate students and 21,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.<br/></p><p>​</p><span><div class="cstm-section"><h3>Media Coverage<br/></h3><div rtenodeid="2"><strong>Science Magazine: </strong><a href="https://scienmag.com/preventing-lead-spread/">"Preventing lead spread"</a><br/><br rtenodeid="5"/><strong>R&D Magazine: </strong><a href="http://www.rdmag.com/news/2017/03/new-approach-limits-lead-contamination-water">"New Approach Limits Lead Contamination in Water"</a><br/></div></div></span><p><br/></p> <span> <div class="cstm-section"><h3>Pratim Biswas<br/></h3><div><p style="text-align: center;"> <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Pratim-Biswas.aspx"> <img src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Biswas_Pratim.JPG?RenditionID=3" class="ms-rtePosition-4" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/></a> </p><p></p><ul><li>Assistant Vice Chancellor of International Programs<br/></li><li>Department Chair<br/></li><li>Lucy & Stanley Lopata Professor<br/></li></ul><div style="text-align: center;"> <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Pratim-Biswas.aspx">View Bio</a></div></div></div></span><br/>A team of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis has developed a new way to track where dangerous lead particles might be transported in the drinking water supply during a common abatement procedure.Erika Ebsworth-Goold2017-03-15T05:00:00ZA team of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis has developed a new way to track where dangerous lead particles might be transported in the drinking water supply during a common abatement procedure.<p>​<span style="font-size: 1.05em;">Engineering tea</span><span style="font-size: 1.05em;">m develops new approach to limit water contamination</span></p>