Andre Palmer inducted Fellow, receives AIChE award named after Ohio State CBE alum

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Professor Andre Palmer is a global leader in blood substitute research.

Ohio Eminent Scholar and Professor Andre Palmer, who is internationally known as a leading expert in blood substitute research and engineering, received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' (AIChE) 2023 William W. Grimes Award for Excellence in Chemical Engineering during the AIChE 2023 Annual Conference. The award recognizes Palmer's outstanding achievements as a chemical engineering researcher/scholar, as well as his contributions as a distinguished role model for underserved populations. The Grimes Award is named after William W. Grimes, a 1950 graduate of Ohio State Chemical Engineering who was AIChE's first Black fellow. In an interesting twist, Palmer was also inducted as an AIChE Fellow at this same AIChE Conference. 

Palmer accepted the Grimes award following a 15‐minute talk about his body of work, which he gave at the AIChE Minority Affairs Committee's Eminent Engineers Awards Ceremony Breakfast on November 6th. The William Grimes Award includes a plaque, a $1,000 payment, and a $500 travel allowance to attend the Annual Meeting.

Palmer's research initiatives are of critical importance to human health. He is currently working to develop safer, more commercially viable red blood cell (RBC) substitutes that could be used to sustain a patient who needs blood for up to 24 hours—enough time to secure blood or get the patient to a hospital for a blood transfusion. With a looming threat of future red blood cell (RBC) shortages and increased demands posed by traumatic injuries, wars, natural disasters, pandemics and routine surgery, these potential applications are of increasing importance. 

Palmer is also working to improve diagnoses and treatments for genetic anemias (e.g. sickle cell disease) and acquired anemias (e.g. extracorporeal device induced RBC lysis).

Buckeye trailblazers

While news of Palmer's William W. Grimes Award for Excellence in Chemical Engineering is wonderful in itself, it is fascinating that the award is named after one of Ohio State Chemical Engineering's own alumni!  Bill Grimes enjoyed a 36-year career at Standard Oil Company after receiving his Ohio State Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering in 1950, working his way up from process engineer to senior roles in leadership. After “retiring,” he ran his own consulting firm until 1993, when he was hired as senior vice president of Martech. The company disbanded in 2003 and Grimes, wishing to keep his brilliant mind sharp,  then decided to work for H&R Block as a tax preparer. At the age of 86, he was recognized as a master tax preparer. Grimes was also actively involved in educational, civic, and community volunteer work, as well as professional organizations such as the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

As the first Black fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. In recognition of his outstanding career and community service, he became the namesake of the William W. Grimes Award for Excellence in Chemical Engineering, the award Andre Palmer received now.

Chemical engineering at large has not had the benefit of attracting many minorities, so it is notable that Ohio State has been something of a leader in this area. Bill Grimes was not the first Black student to graduate with a chemical engineering degree -- he followed in the footsteps of another Ohio State Chemical Engineering pioneer: Dr. Harry James Green, Jr.  ('32 BS, '43 PhD). Harry Green was the first African American student at The Ohio State University to earn a chemical engineering degree and eleven years later, Green became the first African American in the United States to earn a doctorate in chemical engineering, once again at Ohio State. An outstanding scholar, Green had obtained a master's degree from MIT before returning to Ohio State to earn his PhD, and afterwards became a successful academic at North Carolina A&T. After several years, he joined telecommunications equipment manufacturer Stromberg-Carlson, where he "saved the day" by developing a process and equipment to convert coal into a special type of carbon the firm needed for its transmitters, but had been having trouble obtaining. In 1959, Green became supervisor of manufacturing research and development in the production engineering department.

Ohio State has also been a leader in terms of women pursuing advanced studies in chemical engineering: the first woman in the United States to obtain a PhD in engineering was a graduate of Ohio State's chemical engineering department. Yun-Hao “Ruth” Feng Fang graduated from Ohio State's chemical engineering department with an MS in 1928 and her PhD in 1931. Feng made great contributions to cellulose chemistry and the development and utilization of bast fiber (fiber from plants), promoting the development of China’s fiber textile industry, particularly textiles made from the fiber found in ramie plants/grasses.

About Andre Palmer

Andre Palmer, who obtained his PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1998, is a former department chair of the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering who is currently serving out a term as associate dean for research in the College of Engineering (2021-2024). In 2019, he was named a Fenburr Ohio Eminent Scholar, having been selected for the prestigious state-wide endowed chair in recognition of his breakthrough research innovations. Palmer is a recipient of the coveted National Science Foundation CAREER Award as well as the Lloyd N. Ferguson Young Scientist Award from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. He serves on the International Scientific Advisory Committee on Blood Substitutes and is a member of the Bioengineering, Technology, and Surgical Sciences Study Section at the National Institutes of Health. In addition to his recently-announced AIChE Fellow status, he is also a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), which represents the top two percent of researchers in the medical and biological engineering community in the country.

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