Meet the Grads, Jordan Chapman: Attributing success to mentorship, passion and dedication
For Jordan Chapman, he was not entirely convinced engineering was the right fit for
him — until he entered his graduate program in the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.
Story by Adrianne Uphold, Multimedia Specialist
Chapman started his Ph.D. in chemical engineering in fall 2017, where he took his problem-solving skills and applied them to his graduate work at West Virginia University on adapting enzymes for target industrial applications that could detect inflammation in the human body or reduce carbon emissions.
"I enjoyed how engineering students are taught to approach problems," Chapman said. "For me, graduate school was an opportunity to apply my skills to a handful of exciting projects going on. At the end of my Ph.D., I feel like the expertise I gained at WVU is transferrable to any career path I decide to take."
The Hurricane, West Virginia, native graduated with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering in 2017, and he's been pursuing his Ph.D. in chemical engineering since. What drew Chapman to chemical engineering was how integrative the field is becoming.
"I think like every engineering discipline, chemical engineering is becoming more and more of a multidisciplinary field," Chapman said. "For me, I saw my strengths and interests aligning best with the chemical engineering department at WVU. The field of chemical engineering is exciting because of the wide range of problem-solving that we're trained to carry out to build a more sustainable world."
Chapman has been studying under Professor Cerasela Zoica Dinu’s mentorship since his first year at WVU in 2013.
"As a freshman at the Statler College, I was able to get involved with research projects in Dr. Dinu's lab. By my senior year, I had built a strong professional relationship with Dr. Dinu, and I felt confident continuing research under her mentorship," Chapman said.
Under Dinu's leadership, Chapman has focused his graduate work on combining enzyme catalysis with a wide range of novel materials to make enzymes more viable in industrial applications.
"We aim to understand how interactions between enzymes and novel materials determine their viability in these end uses and how we can control these interactions advantageously," Chapman said.
In 2021, Chapman was selected for the National Science Foundation's Non-Academic Research Internship for Graduate Students. While strengthening his professional and research skills by working on the collaborative, interdisciplinary project, Chapman assessed means for gas separation while reducing the energy usage footprint and the environmental burden.
The funding opportunity created a cooperatively beneficial work environment between WVU and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, allowing Chapman to learn a broad range of new competencies and acquire essential skills. Through this partnership, he gained collaborative work experience, communication within teams diverse in expertise and proficiencies, and leadership and management.
"We collaborated with Vanda Glezakou at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and focused on assessing the feasibility of a novel porous material in the selective removal of carbon dioxide from other relevant greenhouse gases," Chapman said. "We published our work in RSC Materials Advances last year and are currently working on another paper with additional emphasis on how we can integrate the same material with enzyme catalysis to reduce carbon dioxide emissions further."
For prospective Ph.D. students, Chapman said to think of grad school as less of a degree program and more of a full-time job.
"The same qualities that make an exemplary employee are important in grad school, too," Chapman said. "In fact, a Ph.D. requires substantial independent learning, self-guided progress and initiative to collaborate with others."
He attributes his success to the help he received from his research adviser Dinu for her support and mentorship over the years.
"Most importantly, I want to thank Dr. Dinu for her patience throughout my graduate student career," Chapman said. "Thanks to her, I'm leaving WVU feeling confident in my technical expertise and ability to answer fundamental scientific questions that are important to solving several prominent global issues. I also want to thank the entire chemical and biomedical engineering department. The faculty and staff have been constructive and supportive every step of the way."
Chapman plans to find a job in chemical engineering outside of academia following his graduation this May.
"I'm interested in continuing work within the biotechnology space with additional focus on research and development to bring new products to market," Chapman said.
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
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