UMC Links

Engineering Academy Elects Three U Professors

February 14, 2003 — Three University of Utah professors have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering. The honors bring to at least 25 the number of present or former U faculty members elected to one of the prestigious National Academies.

The National Academy of Engineering announced Friday it had elected 77 new members and nine foreign associates, including three members from the University of Utah:

— R. Peter King, a professor of metallurgical engineering who was born and raised near a South African gold mine, and who has worked to make processing of minerals more economical and energy efficient.

— Adel F. Sarofim, a presidential professor of chemical and fuels engineering who studies heat transfer in and pollution from furnaces, boilers, incinerators and other combustion systems – all with the goal of reducing pollution and increasing energy efficiency.

— Sun Wang Kim, a distinguished professor of pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry, who designs organic substances called polymers for use in delivering medicines more precisely where needed in the human body. In 1999, Kim was elected to one of the other National Academies, namely, the Institute of Medicine. Kim now joins engineering Professor Stephen C. Jacobsen in holding dual membership in the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.

University officials expressed pride at seeing three faculty members simultaneously elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

“This is a great tribute to the quality of our faculty and shows how they are respected well beyond Utah’s borders,” said J. Bernard Machen, president of the University of Utah. “These honors also underscore the importance of adequate state funding for higher education in Utah, both to maintain the high quality of the university and its faculty, and to ensure a bright economic future for Utah by educating more students in engineering and technology.”

“It’s fantastic,” said Ray Gesteland, the University of Utah’s vice president for research and a distinguished professor of human genetics. “This is spectacular – yet another tribute to our wonderful faculty.”

“Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer,” the group said in a news release. “Academy membership honors those who have made ‘important contributions to engineering theory and practice, including significant contributions to the literature of engineering theory and practice,’ and those who have demonstrated accomplishment in ‘the pioneering of new fields of engineering, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.'”

The academy said it elected Kim “for the design of blood-compatible polymers with human applications, including drug-delivery systems.” Such polymers someday may help target not only medicines to the right part of the body, but also could carry insulin-making islet cells to the pancreas to treat people with diabetes and deliver genes into the body to replace disease-causing mutant genes.

Kim, who obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry at Korea’s Seoul National University, earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Utah in 1969 and has worked for the university ever since.

King, 64, is a native of Springs, South Africa, where his father was a gold mine administrator. Educated in South Africa and England, he joined the University of Utah faculty in 1990. He served as chair of metallurgical engineering during 1999-2002.

King – who said he was “a bit surprised but very pleased” by the new honor – does research in mathematical descriptions and simulations of complex systems for processing minerals, chemicals and even wood pulp used for making paper. The goal, he said, is “to make the processes more efficient and environmentally friendly.”

His work has been used in processing coal and precious metals such as gold and platinum. He specializes in “mineral liberation,” which is the physical separation of minerals from each other and from waste when they occur together in ores.

He also is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Mineral Processing and wrote two recent books, “Introduction to Practical Fluid Flow” – a 2002 volume about transporting water-mineral slurries through pipelines – and the 2001 book “Modeling and Simulation of Mineral Processing Systems.” Both books contain compact disks to help readers with calculations, and King also offers an Internet course based on the latter book.

The academy cited King “for the development of techniques for quantifying mineral liberation and for leadership in Internet education about mineral processors.”

Sarofim, 68, was cited “for advancing our understanding of the mechanisms and modeling of processes that control radiation [of heat] in and pollution emission from combustors” such as furnaces and boilers.

A native of Cairo, Egypt, Sarofim was educated at Oxford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the University of Utah faculty in 1996 after a long career at MIT. He is a member of the U’s Combustion Research Group, which he said aims to increase “the clean utilization of dirty fuels. We look at coal, petroleum cokes, biomass and waste.”

Sarofim said he was delighted that he was among three faculty members elected to the National Academy of Engineering at the same time.

“I feel privileged to be at the University of Utah,” he said. “The University of Utah is a very strong research university. Its nice to see the U getting it proper due.”

With the election of King, Sarofim and Kim, at least 25 present or former University of Utah researchers have been elected to membership in one or more of the three groups under the umbrella organization known as The National Academies: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. The groups list members by current affiliations, so there may be others who were elected in Utah and then moved away.

Other present and former University of Utah researchers previously elected to the National Academy of Sciences are anthropologists Kristen Hawkes, Henry Harpending and the late Jesse D. Jennings; chemist Peter Stang, dean of the U’s College of Science; geologist-geochemist Thure Cerling; chemist Cheves Walling; geneticist Mario Capecchi; biochemist Sidney Velick; biologist John R. Roth; chemist Josef Michl; and geneticist Ray White.

Present or former University of Utah engineering professors who already were members of the National Academy of Engineering include Gerald Stringfellow, dean of the U’s College of Engineering; Donald Dahlstrom; the late George Hill; Jan D. Miller; Milton E. Wadsworth; Thomas G. Stockham; John Herbst; and Stephen C. Jacobsen.

Jacobsen also is a member of the Institute of Medicine, along with Kim; Eli Adashi, the U’s chairman of obstetrics and gynecology; and medical informatics professors Homer R. Warner and Paul D. Clayton.