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Clarkson Professor Receives Top Alumni Award and Delivers Lecture at Alma Mater

Clarkson Professor of Chemical Engineering Ruth E. Baltus, last week delivered the prestigious Augustine Silveira Jr. Distinguished Lecture at her alma mater SUNY Oswego.

The Lifetime Award of Merit is designed to honor alumni who have made unique contributions to SUNY Oswego as well as extraordinary contributions in community service and professional endeavors over the years. Baltus received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the university in 1977.

Baltus' lecture, Room Temperature Ionic Liquids: Will They Move from Curiosities to Commodities?, focused on these environmentally friendly organic salts and the novel opportunities they offer for catalytic reactions, separations, electrochemistry and combined reaction, and separation processes. Baltus first began working with ionic liquids in 2001, when she spent a sabbatical year as a faculty research participant in the Chemical Technology Division at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

"Perhaps the most intriguing feature of these unique materials is that they have no measurable vapor pressure and therefore do not emit potentially hazardous volatile organic compounds," she said. "For this reason, they have been touted as 'green solvents' that may have application in clean manufacturing."

The annual lecture is named for Augustine L. Silveira Jr., a popular and prolific distinguished teaching professor of chemistry. Silveira received more than 50 grants and awards during his 37 years at Oswego.

Baltus earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1979 and 1982, respectively, and joined the chemical engineering faculty at Clarkson in 1983. From 1990-91, she was a visiting research fellow at General Electric Corporate Research & Development Labs in Schenectady, N.Y. In 2003, Baltus received the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Distinguished Engineering Educator Award in recognition of excellence in teaching and dedication to her students, leadership of undergraduate students through the SWE student section, mentorship of graduate engineers, and contributions to membrane science and engineering research.

Baltus has also been a member of the editorial board for the journal Energy Sources, and has been a reviewer for such journals as The Journal of Membrane Science, AIChE Journal, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, and Biotechnology Progress, and such organizations as the National Science Foundation and Petroleum Research Fund. She is a member of SWE, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemistry Society, the American Association for University Women, the Association for Women in Science, the North American Membrane Society, and the American Society of Engineering Education.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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