People
Advisory Board

Photo of Dongchan (Shaun) Ahn

Dongchan (Shaun) Ahn

Associate Research Scientist and R&D Leader, Dow Corning Corporation

Dr. Ahn is a research scientist and technical leader at Dow Corning Corporation. Since joining in 1997, he has led the discovery and application of numerous materials and process platform technologies. He is also active in mentoring, recruiting, teaching and R&D strategy. Ahn was Dow Corning’s first invitee to the National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering program in 2007.

Ahn holds a PhD (1997) and MS from Northwestern University and a BS from Purdue University, all in chemical engineering.

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Robert C. Armstrong

Director, MIT Energy Initiative; Chevron Professor of Chemical Engineering

Robert Armstrong directs the MIT Energy Initiative, an Institute-wide initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology linking science, technology, and policy to transform the worlds energy systems. A member of the MIT faculty since 1973, Armstrong served as head of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1996 to 2007. His research interests include polymer fluid mechanics, rheology of complex materials, and energy. 

In 2008, Armstrong was elected into the National Academy of Engineering for conducting outstanding research on non-Newtonian fluid mechanics, co- authoring landmark textbooks, and providing leadership in chemical engineering education. Armstrong received the Warren K. Lewis Award and the Professional Progress Award in 1992, both from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the 2006 Bingham Medal from the Society of Rheology, which is devoted to the study of the science of deformation and flow of matter. Armstrong was a member of MIT’s Future of Solar Energy study group and co-edited Game Changers: Energy on the Move with former Secretary of State George P. Shultz. 

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John W. Blieszner

Group Manager, Jacobs Consultancy

John Blieszner is a Group Manager at Jacobs Consultancy. He is responsible for developing, leading, and performing engagements in management and technical consulting and developing economic and industry forecasts. His areas of expertise are in energy, renewables and greenhouse gases, oil and gas production, oil sands production/upgrading, refining and petrochemicals, as well as in technology development, technical and financial risk management, strategy development, and quantitative decision analysis. Before joining Jacobs, John worked for Amoco and BP in R&D, manufacturing, business development and commercial management.

John holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern, and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. He is a Registered Professional Engineer (Illinois).

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Susan B. Butts

Former Sr. Director of External Science & Technology - The Dow Chemical Company

Dr. Susan Butts is an active member of the science and technology policy community following her 31 year career in research and development with The Dow Chemical Company. She is past president of the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership and past president of the Council for Chemical Research. She is also a member of the Council of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable in the National Academies and a member of the board of directors of the Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the American Chemical Society and Sigma Xi.

Dr. Butts holds a BS in chemistry from the University of Michigan and the PhD in chemistry from Northwestern University.  

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Christopher K. Haas

Research Specialist, 3M Company

Chris Haas received his bachelor’s and doctoral degree in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University.  Since graduating in 1997, he has worked at 3M in Maplewood, MN.  Chris spent 5 years in 3M’s Corporate Research Process Laboratory, where he worked on inventing novel ways to extrude biodegradable/renewable resource polymers, foams, and oriented films.  Upon moving into 3M’s Safety and Security Division in 2002, he began working on currency, passport, and identification card products, including novel currency substrates, passport security features, and card technologies. Chris has also been an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, MN, since 2010, where he has taught polymer design, fluid mechanics, and senior design courses. 

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Carol K. Hall

Camille Dreyfus Distinguished University Professor, North Carolina State University

Professor Carol K. Hall is the Camille Dreyfus Distinguished University Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University. Hall’s research focuses on applying statistical thermodynamics and molecular-level computer simulation to topics of chemical, biological, or engineering interest involving macromolecules or complex fluids. She is the author of more than 200 publications, is a Fellow of AIChE and APS, and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2005.

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Warren R. Haug

Consultant, Global Innovation, and Adjunct Professor - Northwestern University

Dr Warren R. Haug retired in 1996 as Vice President, Research and Development for The Procter & Gamble Co., with worldwide responsibilities for the Laundry Products Sector of the Company's business.

He received his BS (1961) from the University of Wisconsin and MS (1963) and PhD (1965) from Northwestern University, all in chemical engineering. During his 30 years with Procter & Gamble, he worked in the full range of R&D areas.

From 1996 to 2011, he was an adjunct professor in the McCormick School, teaching an undergraduate course on Personal and Organizational Effectiveness. He also taught a graduate course on The Management and Metrics of Product Development.

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Kenneth F. Herfert

Vice President, Operations - DuPont Industrial Biosciences

Ken is vice president of Integrated Operations for DuPont Industrial Biosciences, a business division of DuPont focused on driving more sustainable products and processes through the application of biotechnology. Ken is responsible for global supply chain, planning, manufacturing, customer service, quality, manufacturing technology, and capital work related to the division. During his career he has served in a variety of roles in both research and development and in managing key customer technology relationships. Ken’s career experience spans the globe including an operations assignment in Belgium and serving as a board member for a Joint Venture in China. Ken received his degree in chemical engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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Vincent Kwasniewski

President of Confluence Consulting LLC

Dr. Kwasniewski is currently consulting part-time for biomanufacturing and biofuels companies and research institutions. With more than 25 years of experience in both business and technical functions in both renewables and petroleum/petrochemicals, Kwasniewski focuses on helping companies and institutions with strategy and collaboration at the interface between technology and business. Clients include independent dry-grind corn bio-refiners, trade associations, and national laboratories.

Kwasniewski has a PhD from the University of Minnesota and a BS from Northwestern University, both in chemical engineering.

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Diana Lorenzini Pulte

Diana Pulte has extensive experience as a management consultant, partnering with Fortune 500 executives to develop strategic initiatives and to translate them into earned value.  Ms. Pulte’s background is in biotechnology, technology, retail, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries.  Ms. Pulte is currently a Director of the Blight Authority, where she has overseen and directed significant large-scale clean up efforts in many of the hardest hit areas of Detroit and Pontiac, Michigan.  Ms. Pulte has helped the Blight Authority solve some of the most complex problems facing urban areas.  She also serves on the Board of Directors of North Star Reach, an organization that provides summer camp experiences for children with severe health challenges.  Ms. Pulte has a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology from Northwestern University.

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G.V. Rex Reklaitis

Burton and Kathryn Gedge Distinguished Professor, Purdue University

G.V. Rex Reklaitis is Burton and Kathryn Gedge Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at Purdue University. He has served as the Deputy Director of the NSF ERC on Structured Organic Particulate Systems and Head of the School of Chemical Engineering. His expertise lies in process systems engineering, especially process operations. Current application interests lie in energy systems and pharmaceutical engineering. These applications include use of process systems methodology to study shale gas supply chains and multi-sourced electric power systems as well as to improve pharmaceutical product design, development, manufacture and administration.

He was educated at the Illinois Institute of Technology (BS ChE), received MS and PhD degrees from Stanford University, has held an NSF Postdoctoral fellowship (Zurich, Switzerland) and a Senior Fulbright Lectureship (Vilnius, Lithuania). He is a member of the US NAE, fellow of AIChE, past Editor-in-Chief of Computers & Chemical Engineering and currently is member of three editorial advisory boards. Among his recognitions, he has received the Computing in Chemical Engineering Award (AICHE), the ChE Lectureship Award  (ASEE), the Van Antwerpen Awards (AIChE) , the Long Term Achievements in Computer Aided Process Engineering Award of the EFChE and the Pruitt Award of CCR. He has served on the Board of Directors of AICHE, the CCR and the CACHE Corporation. He has published over 260 papers and book chapters and edited/authored nine books.

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Anne S. Robinson

Professor and Chair, Tulane University

Anne Skaja Robinson is the chair of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Tulane University and the Catherine and Henry Boh professor of engineering. Prior to Tulane, Dr. Robinson was a full professor and associate chair at the University of Delaware. She earned her BS and MS degrees in chemical engineering from the Johns Hopkins University, and her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has several patents, more than 75 publications in the field of biochemical engineering, and has graduated 17 PhD and 4 MS students.​

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Nancy Sever

CMC Scientific Director

Nancy Ekdawi Sever joined Abbott/AbbVie in 2002 as Research Pharmacist in Global Pharmaceutical Research and Development.  She has held several positions at Abbott/AbbVie, including Associate Director in Formulation Sciences. Nancy assumed her current role as CMC Scientific Director in Global Program Management, GPRD, Lake County in 2014. 

Nancy received a PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering from University of Wisconsin – Madison and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University.

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Patricia T. Sparrell

Automation, Optimization & Global Support Manager - ExxonMobil

Patricia Sparrell recently retired from ExxonMobil after 33 years of service as the ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Global Manager of Process Engineering and Optimization Technologies. During her career she held a variety of technical, operational and managerial positions in Research & Engi­neering, Marketing & Refining, Supply & Logistics, as well as serving as the President of ExxonMobil Biomedi­cal Sciences, Inc. 

She is currently Vice Chair of the Russell Sage Col­leges Board of Trustees, and President-Elect of the Washington Metro Chapter of the ARCS Founda­tion (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists). In addition, she is a member of the Chemical Engineering Advisory Boards at Northwestern University and the Vice President of the ExxonMobil Potomac Annuitants Club.  She has been an invited speaker at multiple conferences including the ARC Advisory Group Symposium and she presented the Hugh Hulburt Memorial Lecturer.  She has received multiple honors and awards including: Tribute to Women and Industry Award and National Association of Professional Women VIP Woman of the Year Circle.  Patricia holds multiple patents and has authored multiple papers.

Patricia holds a B.A. Dual Degree in Chemistry and Mathematics from Russell Sage College and an M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University. Patty is married to Duncan Sparrell and the proud mother of three daughters.

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Joan Stafslien

Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary NUVasive

Joan Stafslien has served as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for NUVasive since October 2016. Ms. Stafslien is responsible for leading NuVasive’s legal function. Most recently, Ms. Stafslien served as as CareFusion’s general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer where she led the legal team through the spin-off from Cardinal Health in 2009 until its acquisition by Becton Dickinson in 2015. Prior to that, Ms. Stafslien was the segment general counsel of Cardinal Health’s Clinical Technologies and Services from 2004 to 2009, joining Cardinal Health through the acquisition of Alaris Medical Systems in 2004, where she served as deputy general counsel and assistant secretary. Prior to joining Alaris, she was in private practice with Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison.

Ms. Stafslien serves on the advisory board of the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department of Northwestern University.

Ms. Stafslien received a JD from University of Wisconsin Law School and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University.

Photo of Ava D. Youngblood

Ava D. Youngblood

President & CEO, Youngblood Executive Search Inc

Ava Youngblood is a Catalyst.  Other words used to describe her are curious, strategic, passionate and perspicacious. She serves as a Leader, Executive Advisor, Faculty Member, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Board Director and Board Chair. She knows how to help clients identify, acquire, build and retain leaders. She serves as the founder and Chief Executive Officer of YESS (Youngblood Executive Search & Services, LLC) (2002). 

YESS’ passion is enhancing the leadership pipeline in the profit, non-profit, education and government sectors.  “Our vision is that virtually every business will operate with a sense of higher purpose, integrate the interests of all stakeholders, acquire, develop and elevate leaders and build a culture of trust, accountability and caring.” YESS also believes that to those who much is given much is required.  Consequently, our Corporate Social Responsibility focus is in education and a portion of our earnings are given back to Communities in Schools, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, where Ava Youngblood serves as a Board Director and INROADS, Inc. where Ava serves as an Alumna.  Ava also served as former Board Chairman for Herzing University. 

Ava Youngblood earned a BS in Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University, and an MBA at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.  She and her husband live in Chicago. They have five children.