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Five UT Austin Engineers Elected to National Academy of Engineering

Four professors from The University of Texas at Austin, along with one alumna, have been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for 2018. Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions bestowed upon an engineer.

UT Austin’s newest members are Chun Huh, retired research professor in the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering; Brian Korgel, professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering; Jayadev Misra, professor emeritus in the Department of Computer Science; Mukul Sharma, professor in the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering; and Hongming (Melissa) Chen, alumna of the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering (B.S. 1992).

“We are extremely proud of each of our newly elected academy members,” said Sharon L. Wood, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering and an NAE member. “To be recognized this year with such a large number of new members is remarkable. It is further confirmation of the world-class quality of the professors, students and alumni who make up our Texas Engineering community.”

Membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research and practice, including pioneering new and developing fields of technology and making major advancements in the field and profession. The UT Austin members are five of 83 new U.S. members and 16 foreign members to join the academy in 2018. Among this year’s most notable elected members is Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Combined, the four UT Austin professors elected this year have almost 100 years of service to the university. “It is not surprising that these four extraordinary individuals built their careers here at UT Austin,” Wood said. “It is evidence of the university’s commitment to hiring people with great potential and then helping them grow.”

Since 2013, 13 UT Austin professors have been elected as new members to the NAE, and the university has over 45 current and emeritus members, among the highest total membership of any U.S. institution.

New members representing The University of Texas at Austin:

Chun Huh, who retired from UT Austin in 2016, was a research professor in the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering. He is recognized for enhancing the understanding of ultralow interfacial tensions of oil/surfactant/water systems. As one of the world’s leading experts on surfactant- and polymer-based enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods, his “Chun Huh equation,” which predicts ultralow interfacial tension from microemulsion solubilization, is widely used for the design of surfactant-based EOR processes. Huh joined UT Austin in 2004 and is a past winner of the Improved Oil Recovery Pioneer Award and the Distinguished Membership Award from the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Brian Korgel, professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, is recognized for the synthesis and applications of nanocrystals, nanowires and their assemblies. His fundamental breakthroughs in nanomaterials, processing and applications have had significant technical, commercial and societal impact, and his work in nanocrystals and nanowires led to the creation of two companies: Pinon Technologies and Innovalight, which grew to over 80 employees before it was purchased by DuPont in 2011. Korgel joined the UT Austin faculty in 1998 and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a past recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Progress Award and the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the O’Donnell Award in Engineering from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas.

Jayadev Misra, professor emeritus in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Natural Sciences, is recognized for his contributions to the theory and practice of software verification of concurrent systems. His pioneering work, like the development of the UNITY proof theory and the development of the ORC programming language, has made a significant impact on the field of computer science. Recently retired from UT Austin, Misra is a former chair of the Department of Computer Science and a celebrated teacher, having won the UT Austin Distinguished Teaching Award in 2009 and the UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2010. He is also a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Mukul Sharma, professor in the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, is recognized for his contributions to the science and technology of production from unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs. For example, his innovative work developing the first fully compositional hydraulic fracturing simulator, which uses nonaqueous fluids like carbon dioxide and nitrogen, has served to reduce the environmental footprint of hydraulic fracturing by reducing the use of fresh water. Sharma has been on the UT Austin faculty for over 30 years, serving as chair of the Hildebrand Department from 2001 to 2005. He is the winner of the John Franklin Carll Award, the Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal and the Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Hongming (Melissa) Chen, chief scientific officer at Kala Pharmaceuticals, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from UT Austin in 1992. She is recognized for her contributions to the research, development and translation of drug delivery technologies. Chen has made significant impact on drug delivery technology innovation, nanotechnology translation and the development of nanomedicines, highlighted by her work translating the mucus penetration nanoparticle technology from academic research through Phase III human clinical trials. She is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and a member of the International Committee for the Controlled Release Society.