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Welcome Letter

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Welcome to the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

In summer 2016, I had the good fortune to become the School's new director in an Olin Hall that has been ringing with excellent news. The School has been an inspiration for and the central benefactor of a historic gift by alumnus, Robert Smith (B.S. '85). With this gift, we proudly take on a new name, the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and a renewed mission in education and research. Propelled by Robert's powerful vote of confidence in our track-record and potential, we are charting a path forward that will support excellence across all our programs and will cultivate the diversity that strengthens both our institution and the industries in which our graduates serve as leaders.

In parallel, the heart of Olin Hall itself has undergone critical reimagining and renovation. Based on the generous contributions of our alumni, we have transformed the Unit Operations Laboratory - a center piece of the chemical engineering curriculum - into a flexible, modern space with new and rebuilt experiments. Additionally, the lab's extended second floor will host a new class of experiments to support our rapidly developing curriculum in product design. This beautiful new space represents an important first step in our ambitious plans to modernize Olin Hall to serve as the School's homebase for another 75 years. 

All the while, the Smith School's students have been grinning and bearing our ever challenging program while engaging deeply with the campus and the world. The diversity of our students and of their trajectories is the hallmark of the Smith School's graduates. Continued record enrollments (100 B.S. degrees in 2016) provide a satisfying indication of our success and the vitality of the field. 

Our faculty have been busy making news with their scholarship as well. Tobias Hanrath and his lab have made fundamental contributions to a next generation approach to form electronic materials for computing, energy storage and energy capture. On the biomolecular front, Chris Alabi has applied his growing synthetic toolset to invent new classes of molecules to guide drug delivery and form potent antibiotics. We also welcomed Fengqi You as the Inaugural Roxanne E. and Michael J. Zak Professor of Energy Systems. His arrival opens exciting new opportunities in both our teaching and research programs. 

Behind the scenes is an exceptional group of graduate students that make these advances possible. We recently named the second year of Fleming Scholars for work on biomolecular topics and honored four senior Ph.D. students with Austin Hooey Graduate Research Excellence Recognition Awards.

In closing, I want to express my gratitude for the exceptional stewardship of the Smith School that Lynden Archer (former director) provided over the past six years. As I consider the task that I have engaged, I am humbled by his record of achievements in supporting all aspects of our mission. 

I hope you enjoy the website and the news assembled here and that they tempt you to visit Olin Hall soon and frequently. Please be in touch should you visit Ithaca.

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Abe Stroock, William C. Hooey Director and Gordon L. Dibble '50 Professor of Engineering