In this series, we're spotlighting each winner of the inaugural ECP Faculty Bridge Grant! Join us in congratulating Jun Hee Jang, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Rowan University.
By ACS Green Chemistry Institute
Establishing a successful research group is challenging, particularly in the first two years. In 2023, the ACS Early Career Postdoctoral (ECP) Faculty Bridge Grant awarded two-year funding to six postdoctoral fellows. These grant recipients will join postdoctoral fellows or faculty members who are in the first nine months of their appointments and wish to start independent research careers. This support is crucial to the development of robust research programs as well as ensuring professional development and mentorship opportunities for the grantees. There is also a required teaching aspect of the grant - aimed at building capacity among educators - requiring applicants to describe their plans to include green chemistry and engineering concepts in their courses.
Grant winner Jun Hee Jang, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Rowan University, will use the opportunity to integrate sustainability perspectives into his curricula. Jun’s planned courses will teach chemical reaction engineering through the lens of contemporary environmental challenges, equip students with fundamental green chemistry and engineering knowledge, and - with Rowan University’s Engineering Clinics - provide opportunities for hands-on research.
“With the support of the ACS Early Career Postdoctoral-Faculty Bridge Grant,” he explained, “my mission extends beyond research; it includes integrating the principles of sustainability into the chemical engineering curriculum.”
Before his new faculty appointment, Jun was a postdoctoral research associate at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), working with his advisor Dr. Gregg T. Beckham. For the ECP grant, Jun proposed the project, “Product Circulation Strategy for Enhanced Economics and Sustainability in Biorefineries of Waste Resources” which involves a mix of synthetic, analytical, and process chemistries.
“Our research focuses on designing efficient and economically viable catalytic processes to convert various carbon resources into sustainable fuels and chemicals,” he said. Jun’s research group will work to optimize these processes for economic and environmental viability, with a strong focus on circularity.
“The work that Jun is proposing as a faculty member will have a major impact on the ability of lignin-centric biorefining methods to be realized at scale.…and also actively engage undergraduate students in green chemistry-oriented research,” said Dr. Beckham, expanding on the importance of this initiative. “Jun’s impactful work in our group combined core concepts in reaction engineering and chemical catalysis with very challenging, careful, and rigorous mass balances.”
Funding from the ECP Faculty Bridge Grant directly supports Jun’s goal as a researcher: to develop scientific and engineering solutions for energy and environmental challenges.
“I have participated in various research initiatives encompassing heterogeneous catalysis, biorefinery processes, plastic degradation, and wastewater treatment that I will continue to advance in my independent career at Rowan University.” On receiving the grant, Jun said, “I am deeply honored.”
Join us in whole-heartedly congratulating Jun on this exciting achievement! Learn more about ACS Sustainability Grants and how you can apply on the ACS website.