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KU's final Foundation Professor to bring expertise in engineering environmental solutions

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

LAWRENCE — A prominent chemical engineer who helped create a top refrigerant that is safe for Earth’s ozone layer will join the University of Kansas as a Foundation Distinguished Professor.

Mark Shiflett, who has worked at DuPont since 1987, will join KU in August as the last of 12 Foundation Professors. He currently serves as technical fellow for DuPont Central Research and Development and as an adjunct professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Delaware.  

At KU, he will be Foundation Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and conduct research at KU’s Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (CEBC). The Foundation Distinguished Professor initiative is a unique partnership between the university and the state of Kansas to attract a dozen eminent scholars who support one or more of the university’s four strategic initiative themes. 

“Mark has been described as possessing a rare combination of talents that make him a world-class scientist, inventor, team leader and educator,” said Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Sara Rosen. “His ideas, insight and drive will elevate KU’s programs and propel our strategic theme to sustain the planet and power the world.”

The Foundation Professor position is an opportunity for Shiflett to research and explore beyond the application of an industrial setting. Although he has spent his career on the East Coast, Shiflett is no stranger to KU’s people and programs. He previously collaborated with Associate Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Aaron Scurto and his research group.

Shiflett’s research interests, which center on separations, ionic liquids and green chemistry, have led to the development of three environmentally safe refrigerant mixtures for DuPont, one of which has generated more than $1 billion in revenue. He holds 44 patents and has several patent applications pending. He has published more than 70 scholarly articles and is a reviewer for a number of chemical engineering research journals. He is a frequent presenter and invited lecturer at conferences and has appeared across the United States and in Canada, Germany, Spain, China, Austria, Ireland and Japan. 

In addition to his research-intensive career, Shiflett has been an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware since 2011. Courses he has taught include chemical engineering laboratory classes as well as junior- and senior-level research courses. 

“Adding Mark Shiflett to our faculty will substantially enhance the research prominence and visibility of the already successful Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis,” said Michael Branicky, dean of the School of Engineering. “He brings a strong potential to increase research support for the CEBC, the school and the university.”

CEBC focuses on the so-called green chemistry and green engineering principles to develop cost-competitive processes to produce chemicals needed by a variety of industries while also striving to reduce waste and conserve natural resources. DuPont is one of the charter industry members of the CEBC and has had a representative serve on CEBC’s Industry Advisory Board. The board guides and advises CEBC researchers on challenges and trends in the industry.

Industry and entrepreneurial experience are highly prized among university engineering programs nationwide. Shiflett recently founded a company that manufactures bioderived lubricants and greases for the cycling industry.

“It is clear that he is an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher who is in significant demand at the University of Delaware,” said Distinguished Professor and Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department Chair Laurence Weatherley. “He will bring valuable industrial and professional perspectives that benefit our students.”

He is active in both the American Chemical Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. In 2006 he was awarded the ACS Heroes of Chemistry Award, and in 2005 he received DuPont’s Bolton Carothers Innovative Science Award for advances in environmental science. He was awarded Fellow status in AIChE in 2014 and in the ACS Industry and Engineering Chemistry Division in 2015.

Shiflett earned a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware in 2002, a master's degree in chemical engineering from Delaware in 1998 and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University in 1989.

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