Maria Burka to Lead AIChE
March 24, 2010
NSF program director Maria Burka has been elected to lead the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), a professional association with more than 40,000 members from around the world. Burka began serving as AIChE president-elect in 2010 and will become president in 2011. She will be the second woman to hold the AIChE presidency since the organization was founded a century ago.
"The Institute has vibrant technical communities involved in energy, sustainability, and biotechnology," said Burka. "I want to foster these communities, because their work is addressing major national and international challenges."
"Chemical engineering is becoming a more global profession," said Burka. "My main goal for AIChE during my tenure is to help it grow in the international arena. We need to connect with sister organizations around the world, on every continent." AIChE has begun establishing new partnerships in South America, Asia, and Africa to benefit both U.S. and international members.
At NSF, Burka directs the process and reaction engineering program of the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems in the Directorate for Engineering. Her responsibilities include evaluation and management of research and educational grants to academic institutions in the areas of chemical and biochemical reaction engineering, process control, and process design, as well as reactive polymer processing. Before joining NSF, she was as a senior scientist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a faculty member in the chemical engineering department of the University of Maryland, College Park, and a process design engineer with Scientific Design Company in New York City.
Burka received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton -- all in chemical engineering. Her research interests are in chemical process design and control.
John McGrath, director of CBET, commended Burka for her technical knowledge and leadership, saying "Maria is a critical and strategic thinker with a strong and articulate voice for the causes she supports. We are proud of her achievements, and we wish her much success in her term as president of AIChE." Burka, an AIChE Fellow, has a long history of service and leadership with the organization. Currently she directs AIChE's participation in the Washington Internships for Students of Engineering program, is vice chair of the International Committee, and is a member of the Admissions and Women's Initiatives committees. Burka has also been active in a number of other professional organizations, including the American Chemical Society (ACS), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2012, its budget was $7.0 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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