Chauhan takes reins of Chem & Bio Engineering Department
Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at Colorado School of Mines hopes to increase the visibility of the impactful faculty research happening on campus in the energy and biomedical sectors and beyond.
The new head of the
Anuj Chauhan, who joined Mines in August, comes from the University of Florida, where he served on the chemical engineering faculty since 2001.
"This department is doing extremely high-quality research," Chauhan said. "If you look at our rankings and you look at the quality of our research, we could easily rank much higher. Rankings are really about visibility. If you're doing high-quality research, a big part of that is to make that research useful to other people as well. When you have more visibility, it's just easier for people to find you and what you're doing."
Chauhan holds a PhD from City University of New York and a bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, both in chemical engineering. He spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, before joining the University of Florida as an assistant professor. He achieved the rank of professor in Florida's Department of Chemical Engineering in 2011 and served as associate department head from 2013 to 2018.
Chauhan's research focuses on transport and interfacial phenomena in a broad range of biomedical applications, with a strong focus on ophthalmology.
His work on ophthalmic drug delivery via contact lenses was named one of the Medical Breakthroughs of the Year by Reader's Digest in 2004 and an FDA-approved clinical study has begun this year. He is also working on a filter tip that can remove preservatives from eye drops right before they go into the eye and "golden" contact lenses that could offer a drug-free treatment for the eye disease cystinosis.
"One of the reasons I knew Mines would be a good fit is that my research interests fit very well with this department — most of the research I do qualifies as biomedical research," Chauhan said. "Also, the CBE Department and Mines were a great fit with my vision of what a department and university should be like — a great mix of high-quality research and a warm and supportive environment"
Toward his goal of increased visibility, planning is already underway for the department to host a number of major conferences and events on campus, including the 2021 Colloid and Surface Science Symposia of the American Chemical Society and the American Society for Engineering Education's Chemical Engineering Summer School, which is held every five years for new chemical engineering faculty nationwide.
Increasing graduate student enrollment is another priority, particularly in the department's master's degree program. Chauhan said some of the ways he hopes to achieve that is through forging new relationships with international universities and making a stronger case to undergraduate chemistry majors at nearby Colorado universities about the job opportunities that a master's degree in chemical engineering can provide.
Increasing interactions with alumni is also a priority, including starting an Industrial Advisory Board to provide guidance to the department.
"This department has a wonderful culture. Everyone supports each other and we all buy into the idea of CBE and Mines family," Chauhan said. "It's nice to be moving to a smaller university. There is an opportunity to make an impact, both within the university and outside."
Chauhan succeeds Carolyn Koh, William K. Coors Distinguished Professor and director of the Center for Hydrate Research, who had served as interim department head since May 2018.