Student Spotlight

UD Ph.D. Candidate Shines at Chemical Separations Events

October 13, 2022
Yagya Gupta, graduate student with the Vlachos Research Group, gains valuable experience and opportunity at 2022 Gordon Research Chemical Separations Conference and Seminar.

Yagya Gupta, graduate student with the Vlachos Research Group, gains valuable experience and opportunity at 2022 Gordon Research Chemical Separations Conference and Seminar.

University of Delaware Ph.D. candidate, Yagya Gupta, returned from the Gordon Research Chemical Separations Conference and Seminar (GRC) with a travel award, chair position, and more confidence than ever in the powerful impact of scientific research and advancement.

The 6-day conference was held in Ventura, California the week of October 2, 2022. Leading chemists, materials scientists, and chemical engineers congregated to share and discuss their work in chemical separations. Attendees learned cutting-edge information and collaboratively imagined new innovations in separation science, engineering, and technology development domains. The associated 2-day seminar held immediately prior to the conference offered graduate students, post-docs, and other early-career scientists a venue to showcase their research, network, and investigate career opportunities within the field of separation science.

For Gupta, the conference and seminar were filled with promise and opportunity. A native of Delhi, India, Gupta completed her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at Guru Gobind Singh University. She is currently a fourth-year graduate student under University of Delaware’s Unidel Dan Rich Chair in Energy Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Dion Vlachos.

“Yagya is driven to help society by solving complex sustainability problems, such as that of food waste. Her work is a landmark for extracting high-value ingredients used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics,” said Vlachos.

That passion and drive certainly radiated during her week at GRC. Gupta’s poster presentation, “Selective Purification of High Commercial Value Chemicals Extracted from Food Waste,” was well-received at both the conference and the seminar. Gupta’s research focuses on selectively purifying valuable phenolic acids found in food waste, biomass, and non-food biomass using molecularly imprinted polymers. Developing the structurally sensitive polymers in the lab enables difficult separations of structurally analogous compounds and produces up to 92% purity.

In addition to her presentations, Gupta served as the seminar discussion leader for the “Membrane and Electrochemical Separations” session. While in Ventura, she was also notified that she had been granted a travel award to offset her conference expenses. Perhaps most impressive, however, Gupta was elected as the 2024 Gordon Research Seminar Chair. Over the next two years she and her co-chair will work to organize the seminar, secure keynote speakers, solicit and select oral and poster presenters, fundraise, prepare itineraries, and generally ensure a successful seminar filled with healthy scientific communication.

Gupta enthusiastically expressed her gratitude for current chair, Joan Brennecke, noting great appreciation for being selected as funding award recipient. Regarding her new position as seminar chair, she explained, “I feel wonderful and fortunate to chair GRS Chemical Separations 2024. It’s going to be a new experience and I’m looking forward to giving back to the community that has offered me so much knowledge, ideas, acceptance, love, and a space to learn and grow.”