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Kim Ogden

Kim Ogden demonstrates an algae-extracting centrifuge at the UA algae farm.

UA Professor Kim Ogden Takes the Helm at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers

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UA Professor Kim Ogden Takes the Helm at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers

Nov. 29, 2017
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Biofuels expert is the first University of Arizona faculty member and fifth woman to lead the professional society.

Kimberly Ogden, University of Arizona professor of chemical and environmental engineering and pioneer in the design of bioreactors for producing renewable energy from algae, has been elected 2018 president-elect and 2019 president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Ogden is the first faculty member from the UA to be named president of the professional organization, which has 53,000 members in 110 countries. She is only the fifth woman president of AIChE.

“I am honored,” said Ogden, adding that AIChE has changed significantly since 2004 when she was first elected to its board of directors. “Today, it is a vibrant and diverse professional organization taking part in exciting initiatives.”

The appointment caps a string of AIChE leadership posts for Ogden, who has been active in the society since her undergraduate years.

“In my new post I will continue working to expand collaborations with industry, government and academia to help address engineering grand challenges, such as the water-energy-food nexus, and to foster leadership, especially in young members,” she said.

Cultivator of Clean Energy, Successful Students and Industry Partners

Ogden is leading several research projects and programs to develop on a mass scale biofuels that are cleaner than fossil fuels and high-value bioproducts for industry, such as rubber and resin.

She is principal investigator for a U.S. Department of Energy-funded Regional Algal Feedstock Testbed project. Her team grows and conduct experiments on microalgae in ponds and aboveground photoreactors at a UA agricultural experiment station near campus. She also directs the UA Institute for Energy Solutions and Sustainable Bioeconomy for Arid Regions Center.

The center, launched in October 2017 with a five-year, $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is cultivating guayale and guar, two plants that thrive in the desert Southwest, to create biofuels and bioproducts.

“We’ll serve as a test bed for other regions and demonstrate how to utilize the entire plant to make products in arid regions,” Ogden said of the new center. “The research, development and deployment activities will be transferrable across the world.”

Ogden also has worked to improve K-12 science education on many fronts. For 10 years she led the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Teachers program, in which teams of K-12 teachers conduct research in UA labs and transfer that knowledge to their classrooms. In 2014 the College of Engineering honored her with a da Vinci Fellowship for her research, teaching and outreach activities.

“Kim is one of those remarkable individuals who has the capacity to balance robust teaching, research and service activities, and excel at all,” said Anthony Muscat, head of the UA Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. “Her many leadership roles at the UA and AIChE, capped by her appointment as AIChE president-elect, make her ideally positioned to advance our profession and research and career opportunities for our students.”

Ogden earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Colorado. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory before joining the UA College of Engineering faculty in 1992.

Kim Ogden: 2014 da Vinci Circle Fellow