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Rensselaer Professor Joel Plawsky Named AIChE Fellow

October 8, 2009

Thin film expert Joel Plawsky, professor of chemical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was recently named a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

The AIChE commended Plawsky for leaving a unique mark on the academic field and for “significant contributions to the chemical engineering profession.” 

“Joel has an amazing ability to bridge the molecular with the macroscopic,” said Shekhar Garde, head of Rensselaer’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. “It is no surprise to me that he is providing intellectual leadership to many research projects with important applications — from new ways to cool modern computer chips, to better materials for microelectronics and photonics, and to behavior of biological systems in space under microgravity environments. I congratulate him on being named a fellow of the AIChE.”

Plawsky’s primary research interests are in the fields of thin films, interfacial phenomena, and transport phenomena. His work in thin films involves applications for microelectronics and photonics, while his interfacial phenomena research is centered on the fundamental interactions between a thin liquid film, its vapor, and a solid substrate. One of his thin film experiments is currently being installed in a laboratory of the International Space Station, after being carried into space in late August aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.

Plawsky’s transport phenomena research is wide-ranging and entails different projects from predicting the state of fresh concrete during curing, to designing of thermal protection systems for interplanetary probes, and analyzing the hydrodynamics and mass transfer in biological systems. He is the author of Transport Phenomena Fundamentals, which is published by Taylor & Francis and currently in its second edition. 

In addition to holding three patents on different topics including optical fiber probes and draft tube spout fluid bed systems, Plawsky has authored more than 190 journal papers. He is also active in academic conferences, currently serving on the scientific advisory committees of the International Heat Transfer Conference and International Symposia on Transport Phenomena. He previously served as co-chair of the 2005 National Heat Transfer Conference, and technical co-chair of the 2004 National Heat Transfer Conference, among others.

Plawsky has received many awards, including NASA faculty fellowships at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in 1999 and 2000, the Best Paper Award at the 2008 COMSOL User’s Conference, and the 2009 AIChE Herbert Epstein Award. 

He joined Rensselaer in 1988 as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and was named a full professor in 2003. Prior to joining the Institute faculty, he worked as a senior engineer doing research and development at what is now Corning Inc.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan, Plawsky went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161
E-mail: mullam@rpi.edu