Engineering professors honored with new appointments

The University of Delaware College of Engineering is celebrating two new named professor appointments and four career development professor appointments in 2019. The College of Engineering now has 32 named professors and eight career development professors, with named professors now comprising 26 percent of the tenure-track and tenured faculty.

“Endowed professorships enable our recruitment and retention of faculty who are exceptional in teaching, research and service,” said Levi Thompson, Dean of the University of Delaware College of Engineering. “We appreciate the generosity of donors who make these incredibly valuable positions possible.”

Earlier this year, the College of Engineering welcomed Marianthi Ierapetritou as the Bob and Jane Gore Centennial Chair of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Yushan Yan, previously Distinguished Engineering Professor, was named Henry B. du Pont Chair of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.

Now, the College of Engineering is proud to recognize four new career development professors:


Feng Jiao, Robert K. Grasselli, Ph.D. Development Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Jiao is a leader in the field of carbon capture and utilization and associate director of the Center for Catalytic Science and Technology at UD.

His research interests include developing clean, sustainable and environmentally friendly energy supplies by combining catalysis, materials science and electrochemistry to address energy conversion and storage challenges. He has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and ACS PRF Award.

Jiao holds a doctoral degree from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and was a postdoctoral associate at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory before joining UD.

 The Robert K. Grasselli, Ph.D. Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering was established in 2019 in memory of Robert K. Grasselli, Ph.D., the beloved spouse of Dr. Eva-Maria Hauck-Grasselli and former adjunct full professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Center for Catalytic Science and Technology.


April Kloxin, Centennial Development Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Kloxin has received international renown for her work in biomaterials. In 2019, Kloxin was one of 60 researchers to receive a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award from the NIH Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program. She was also selected by the editorial board of Biomaterials Science, a journal published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, for the 2019 Biomaterials Science Lectureship, an annual lectureship that honors an early-career researcher for their significant contribution to the biomaterials field.

Kloxin holds a doctoral degree in chemical engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder, as a NASA Graduate Student Research Program Fellow.  She trained as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute postdoctoral research associate at the University of Colorado before joining the faculty at the University of Delaware in 2011.

Previous honors include the ACS PMSE Arthur K. Doolittle Award, the Susan G. Komen Foundation Career Catalyst Research award, an NSF CAREER award, and a Pew Scholars in Biomedical Sciences award.


Jennifer McConnell, Bentley Systems Early Career Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

McConnell is an expert in bridge engineering, non-linear behavior and stability of steel structures, aging infrastructure, and sustainable infrastructure. She has been nominated for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Collingwood Prize, selected for the American Iron and Steel Institute Steel Bridge Committee and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Technical Committee for Structural Steel Design Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture and named an ASCE Excellence in Civil Engineering Education Fellow. She holds a doctoral degree in civil engineering from West Virginia University.

UD alumni Barry Bentley, EG78, and Keith Bentley, EG80 initially created the Bentley Systems Early Career Professorship in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering through annual support. The first recipient of the professorship was Chris Meehan, who has since been promoted to full professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The brothers, founders of Bentley Systems, a software development company focused on creating software to sustain the world’s infrastructure, were inspired by the impact of their support and decided to endow the professorship. The sustained funding will empower faculty to needed research and help pass on important lessons to students.


Bingjun Xu, Centennial Development Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Xu studies catalysis — the processes that accelerate chemical reactions—especially at the surface of catalysts where reactions take place.

He was named to the 2018 Class of Influential Researchers by the journal Industrial & Engineering Chemical Research. He has also received an NSF CAREER Award, Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award and ACS Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator Award.

Xu earned a doctoral degree at Harvard and was a post-doctoral associate at the California Institute of Technology before joining UD.