Research in the department focuses on a number of key areas with strong commitment to collaboration between these areas towards a truly multidisciplinary research effort.
The Chemical Engineering department at LSU is a nationally recognized leader in teaching and research. It is the largest chemical engineering program in Louisiana at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We have 17 full-time faculty providing B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering. Noteworthy achievements of the department include consistent ranking among the nation's top 30 ChE departments in terms of external funding. More than 1500 LSU ChE's are employed in Louisiana, and the department has a long history of producing graduates who attain high positions in industry. More than 50 of our graduates teach or have taught in universities throughout the world. A unique feature of LSU is its proximity and access to one of the world's largest concentrations of chemical/refining facilities. The Mississippi River corridor from Baton Rouge to New Orleans includes more than 200 chemical/petrochemical facilities, and LSU ChE has played a leading role in providing the graduates needed in these facilities. The Louisiana Chemical Association reported in 2003 that the annual sales of the Louisiana chemical/refining industry exceeded $42 billion, and our department should be rightly credited with providing many of the engineers needed for this industry.
Research in the department is funded from external grants and contracts from several federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, various agencies within the Department of Defense, from state sources such as the Educational Quality Support Fund and the Information Technology initiative, and from private sources such as the Gordon Cain endowment and various companies. In kind services have also been provided by a number of companies.
Chemical engineers take pride in their ability to work with others. We enjoy strong research relationships with most of the departments in the College of Engineering (Civil and Environmental, Biological and Agricultural, Industrial, Mechanical, Electrical, and Petroleum Engineering), and with numerous other units around the campus (Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Microbiology, Geology, Coastal Studies, and Wetland Resources). Many of our Ph.D. students minor in areas inside and outside of engineering. The training of the chemical engineer uniquely equips him/her to learn the other fields readily, and this broad training allows him/her to pull together work from the other disciplines. This is why one of our Ph.D. program's main objectives is to train individuals to be capable of assuming technical leadership in solving society's complex problems.
The department also has numerous interactions with external institutions at the state, national, and international level. The faculty have developed collaborations with researchers at a host of institutions within Louisiana (e.g., La Tech, UNO, UL Lafayette), outside the state (e.g., Clemson, Penn State, Florida, Florida State), and internationally (e.g., Utrecht, Vienna). Many of these involve two or perhaps three co-investigators working together on a specific project, while several faculty are involved in larger multi-investigator / multi-institution Centers that involve a wider scope of research. The largest and most recently announced of these, a DOE-sponsored Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC, “Center for Atomic Level Catalyst Design”), has a ChE (Jerry Spivey) as its director, and involves 22 faculty (3 others from LSU ChE) from 7 universities with an operating budget of over $2 MM per year. Finally, several faculty have industrial collaborative interactions, either in the form of specific research projects or individual consulting arrangements. In one case a faculty member (Karsten Thompson) has established an industrial research consortium (PoreSim), with annual contributions from multiple corporate members.