Department names 2019 McWhirter Fellows


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The John R. and Jeannette McWhirter Graduate Fellowship in Chemical Engineering provides one year of full support for an outstanding graduate student in the  Chemical Engineering doctoral program. The 2019 McWhirter Fellows are Anish Dasgupta, Sharad Maheshwari, Mohammadamin Makarem, and Lin Wang.

The McWhirter Fellowships are awarded to doctoral students who display noteworthy productivity and a high level of scholarship in their research. In addition, McWhirter Fellows demonstrate a commitment to the betterment of their lab, the Department of Chemical Engineering, the College of Engineering, and the University through service, teaching, and building community.

The McWhirter Fellows’ doctoral work represents a variety of cutting-edge chemical engineering research. Dasgupta’s work involves developing multi-metallic model catalysts with specific well-defined surface morphology in order to study the effect of the catalytic active site in controlling activity and selectivity of commercially relevant hydrogenation chemistries.

Maheshwari’s research involves developing electrocatalytic system for production of chemicals, currently focusing on nitrogen reduction to ammonia (N2RR). Using computational methods based on Density Functional Theory, they have been able to elucidate why transition metals are neither active nor selective for N2RR. Going forward, they intend to take inspiration from nitrogenase enzyme and mimic its functionality using short-chain peptides as a catalyst surface and environment modifier. In a future with plentiful renewable electricity, an electrocatalytic system using renewable electricity to produce valuable chemicals would reduce global dependence on fossil energy.

The main focus of Makarem’s work is the characterization of crystalline cellulose in the plant cell wall and other cellulosic composites by using sum frequency generation spectroscopy (SFG). His research develops the knowledge about the capabilities of SFG in studying crystalline biomaterials, and then he uses this information to analyze the organization and interactions of cellulose in the cell wall of plants. 

Wang’s research seeks to develop optimization-based techniques to study the complexity of metabolic networks and redesign metabolic systems for bioproduction. Specifically, it is focused on developing computational tools for constructing minimal genomes and designing de novo metabolic pathways.


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Jamie Oberdick


The Penn State Department of Chemical Engineering, established in 1948, is recognized as one of the largest and most influential chemical engineering departments in the nation.

The department is built upon the fundamentals of academic integrity, innovation in research, and commitment to the advancement of industry.

Department of Chemical Engineering

121 Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2574