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Graduate School

CEC Graduate Students Receive Koerner Family Foundation Fellowships

The University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing is proud to announce that graduate students Ben Egelske and Michael Royko have been selected as 2021 Koerner Family Foundation Fellows.

The fellowship program, started in 2001, provides graduate fellowships to students in various disciplines of engineering at selected universities. The students must be citizens of the United States, have successfully passed their candidacy exams leading to a doctoral degree and expressed an interest in a research career within academia, industry or government in the United States.

Egelske and Royko, who are Ph.D. students in chemical engineering, will each receive $10,000 towards their research and other educational expenses. Both students agreed the funds will help them succeed at their work and overcome the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m grateful for the Koerner family’s support for my research, and I’m motivated to complete my Ph.D. in the fall of 2021,” said Egelske. “I’m excited about what our group has been able to accomplish and look forward to the future.”

“Receiving this fellowship was a great feeling,” said Royko. “Fellowships are often extremely competitive and have an extremely high rejection rate, so successfully obtaining a fellowship is always a fantastic recognition.”

Egelske works under John Monnier, a professor of chemical engineering and member of the National Academy of Engineering, studies catalyst design and synthesis. They’re currently working on a pilot plant, which Monnier compares to a miniature chemical plant that can be scaled to a full-sized plant.

“Many chemical engineering students like the idea of working on large volume projects, and they see with awe the same way I have always felt when working at chemical plants with large, multi-storied reactors and towers, piping everywhere, and the sound of compressors thumping along,” said Monnier. “Ben is one of those people, and he has been integrally-involved as the real line manager for one of these projects funded by an outside, multinational company.”

Royko is currently working on two research projects with Chemical Engineering Professor Jochen Lauterbach to improve the environmental performance of waste biomass utilization. The first project is a collaboration with a small manufacturing company, Buck Enterprises LLC, in Blythewood, South Carolina, and Royko has been vital in communicating with the company. The second project is an invention that combines waste biomass with other renewable materials to produce carbon neutral, flexible and rigid polymeric materials.

“It gives me great pleasure that Michael Royko was selected for the Koerner Family Foundation Fellowship,” said Lauterbach. “This national award shows the outstanding research work performed in the College of Engineering and Computing. Michael first worked in my Smartstate center as an undergraduate student while he was a rising senior at the University of Alabama. Ultimately, we were very lucky to attract Michael to attend graduate school for chemical engineering at UofSC.”

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