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Chemical Engineering Faculty Recognized for Outstanding Paper

A team of Villanova University Chemical Engineering faculty have been recognized with the American Society for Engineering Education's (ASEE) Martin Award. “Preparation of Biology Review and Virtual Experiment/Training Videos to Enhance Learning in Biochemical Engineering Courses” was selected as the outstanding Chemical Engineering paper presented at the 2015 ASEE annual conference. A commemorative plaque will be presented at the 2016 ASEE Meeting in June in New Orleans.

In their paper, Professor William Kelly, PhD; Associate Professor Noelle Comolli, PhD; and Assistant Professors Jacob Elmer, PhD, and Zuyi “Jacky” Huang, PhD, focus on two major challenges that are inherent in any biochemical engineering (BioChE) course:

  1. The need for students to have a good understanding of fundamental biology concepts to fully comprehend advanced BioChe concepts, and,
  2. BioChe-related techniques that are too long, hazardous or expensive to perform in a classroom setting.  
Professor William Kelly, PhD
Associate Professor Noelle Comolli, PhD
Associate Professor Noelle Comolli, PhD
Assistant Professors Jacob Elmer, PhD
Assistant Professor Jacob Elmer, PhD
Assistant Professor Zuyi “Jacky” Huang, PhD
Assistant Professor Zuyi “Jacky” Huang, PhD

Drs. Kelly, Comolli, Elmer and Huang address these issues with a series of videos that review basic biology concepts and demonstrate several different BioChE techniques. The students are required to watch the videos before class, allowing faculty to spend less class time reviewing biology topics and more time discussing new and advanced BioChE concepts. With “virtual experiment” videos state-of-the-art experimental techniques can be exhibited in any classroom. Dr. Comolli explains: “These videos enhance student learning by providing a virtual lab experience that students would not receive in a traditional lecture format. We have also used these videos to streamline the training process for undergraduate and graduate students performing research in our labs.” The faculty have evaluated the videos' effectiveness with student surveys and are pleased with the progress that has been made. Finally, the team points out, “While our work was specific to BioChE, this approach would work in other disciplines as well.” 

This is the second prize that Villanova Chemical Engineering professors will be presented with at the upcoming ASEE conference. Randy Weinstein, PhD, professor and associate dean of academic affairs, will receive the Corcoran Award for "Improved Performance via the Inverted Classroom." The award is presented each year to the author of the most outstanding article published in Chemical Engineering Education