Sundaresan recognized for lifetime achievement in chemical engineering

Sankaran Sundaresan, a key figure in modern chemical reaction engineering, has won a lifetime achievement award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) for his influence on the study of particle flows, essential in the production of fuels, chemicals, food and pharmaceutical products.

Sundaresan, the Norman John Sollenberger Professor of Engineering and professor of chemical and biological engineering, has developed mathematical models describing granular and multiphase flows (such as mixed gases and solids) from the particle scale to that of large industrial processes with trillions of particles. He and his research group pioneered an approach to analyzing chemical reactor performance that has since been adopted across several industries including refining, carbon capture and pharmaceuticals.

“His contributions constitute an impressive body of work that spans the spectrum of gas-solid flows and is remarkable for its unique combination of formal elegance and practical utility,” said David Dankworth, a low-carbon solutions executive at ExxonMobil and a 1991 Ph.D. alumnus who was advised by Sundaresan.

The 2022 Elsevier Particle Technology Forum Award for Lifetime Achievements recognizes the profound impact of Sundaresan’s career as a teacher, scholar and leader. He has served as associate editor for the AIChE Journal and Chemical Engineering Journal, has sat on the editorial board of four other journals, and has served five years on the executive committee for the Department of Energy’s carbon capture simulation initiative. He also led the undergraduate program of Princeton’s Department of Chemical Engineering (later the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering) for six years and served as associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science for six years. He has been recognized numerous times as an outstanding teacher, including several Engineering Council Excellence in Teaching Awards, a SEAS Distinguished Teacher Award, a President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and a Graduate Mentoring Award.

Sundaresan joined the Princeton faculty in 1980 after completing a Ph.D. at the University of Houston. He is a fellow of AIChE and a recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award and the Richard H. Wilhelm Award in Chemical Reaction Engineering, among many other honors.