National Science Foundation (NSF) program director, past president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and former Clark School faculty member Dr. Maria Burka has joined the faculties of the Department of Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering (ChBE) and the Institute for Systems Research (ISR) as a visiting professor.
Burka, the NSF engineering directorate's Director of Process and Reaction Engineering in the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems, is engaged in a Long Term Development project with Professor Ray Adomaitis (joint, ChBE and ISR) involving process engineering and reaction control in atomic layer deposition. She has also met with students to discuss careers in chemical engineering.
At the NSF, Burka reviews proposals submitted for funding in the areas of chemical reaction engineering, process design and control, and reactive polymer processing. She is active in NSF-wide initiatives including cyber-enabled discovery and innovation (CDI).
Burka says her decision to return to the University of Maryland for her personal Long Term Development project grew out of her interest one of Adomaitis' studies, which is currently funded by her division of the NSF.
"It seemed like an ideal project for me to [get] some hands-on involvement," she says. "I have not done any research since I left the Maryland faculty almost 30 years ago, so I am going back to the basics…relearning programming…There are unique facilities here…that make it ideal for me at this time."
Outside of the NSF, Burka serves on the chemical engineering advisory committees of both Cornell and Princeton University. During her tenure as the president of the AIChE in 2011, she stressed the need for the society to foster international collaborations and helped launch student chapters at universities around the world. She has also been active in AIChE's public affairs program, which has arranged congressional briefings on high-profile energy-related issues such as the use of "fracking" to extract natural gas from shale deposits and the cleanup of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Burka is also member of the American Chemical Society, the American Association of University Women, and the Society of Women Engineers.
Prior to joining the NSF and in addition to her experience on the (then) Department of Chemical Engineering faculty, Burka was a senior scientist with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and a process design engineer with Scientific Design. She received her Ph.D in chemical engineering from Princeton University.
May 1, 2012