November 30, 2020
ChemE welcomes two alumni back to the department
David Bergsman, Assistant Professor
David Bergsman returned to UW to join the faculty this fall, bringing expertise in atomic and molecular layer deposition, membrane design, and materials for carbon-free energy and other sustainable technologies. A 2012 graduate of UW ChemE, he earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Stanford and completed a postdoc at MIT. There, he developed a low-cost method for making conductive water filtration membranes.
David says he was thrilled when the offer came to join the department. “It’s a fantastic research fit, and I already knew I liked the faculty,” he says. Indeed, his interests align with existing research strengths in the department, and his experience with vapor deposition tools and membrane design can enhance ChemE’s work in clean energy, medicine, and nanotechnology.
In any project he pursues, David says tech transfer is a key consideration — research that’s scientifically interesting but impractical in the real world doesn’t rise to the top. “I think it’s important to work on technologies that can fit right into manufacturing processes,” he says.
On the teaching front, David is of course starting out in the 100% remote environment; this fall he’s teaching thermodynamics. He recognizes the distanced setup is stressful for students, but is heartened that they’re appreciative of his efforts to facilitate learning challenging material. David knows what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a ChemE undergraduate — as it happens, he took the first class Hugh Hillhouse taught at the UW.
David is beginning to set up his lab with an eye toward high-throughput machining. Building a system that can quickly screen materials flips the traditional research script. Instead of a drawn-out process of testing a single material, one can identify suites of promising material candidates for membranes, catalysts, solar cells, and batteries for further development. He can even imagine developing a course involving instrumentation and robotics that encompasses these concepts.
Despite the strange nature of fall quarter this year, David is enthusiastic about his new role in the UW ChemE community. “I love the scope of research that the department is working on,” he says. “We’re growing stronger, bolder, more impactful, and more diverse every year.”
Kyle Caldwell, John C. Berg Endowed Lecturer
Kyle Caldwell joined ChemE in March as the Berg Endowed Lecturer. After receiving his Ph.D. from the UW, Kyle worked as a senior scientist at Innovative Organics, where he managed a team developing a range of environmentally-friendly chemicals for HDD, IC, LED, automotive, and aerospace markets. His research interests center on nanoparticles and particular composites.
In addition to developing and teaching courses in a remote setting, Kyle is taking the lead on managing the department’s shared instrumentation facility and labs. Though the pandemic has slowed activity in these spaces, Kyle aims to strengthen ties with startups and industry partners who might utilize the equipment. Further, he will seek out funding opportunities to acquire new instruments.