Sunggyu K.B. Lee
Nov 12, 2010
By Pete Shooner and Colleen Carow
Ohio University has welcomed its fourth eminent scholar, Sunggyu K.B. Lee. Lee is the Russ-Ohio Research Scholar in Coal Syngas Utilization in the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Ohio Coal Research Center.
Widely regarded as the top researcher in the United States in clean coal technology, syngas conversion to fuel and functional polymers, Lee joined Ohio University from Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo., where he was professor of chemical engineering. Lee is the author of seven books and recipient of 29 U.S. patents and 80 international patents, which makes him Ohio University’s top patent holder.
Dave Bayless, Loehr Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Ohio Coal Research Center, said that Lee’s work – and the influence of his publications and patents on chemical engineering – will greatly strengthen success in fuel cell and clean coal technologies at the Russ College. The college already plays a significant role in the state of Ohio’s designation of Ohio University as a center of excellence in energy and the environment.
“Dr. Lee is a visionary collaborator with a lot of energy to complement that,” Bayless said. “He has a chance to really influence current faculty – and those who will come in the future and their students – and that will have lasting effects on the College.”
Lee is renowned for his work in alternative energies and materials. His research includes the development of a portable, small-scale generator of hydrogen for fuel cell applications, as well as work on carbon dioxide mitigation. Studies include capturing carbon dioxide and converting it into liquid transportation fuels, and developing highly functional polymers for defense applications such as military vehicles.
A faculty member at The University of Akron from 1980 to 1997, Lee says joining Ohio University was like coming home.
“Ohio is the home state for my family, since all three of our children were born in Ohio,” Lee said. “Coming back was not a hard decision for my family – but it may have been a challenge to several of my graduate students,” he said.
Ten of those graduate students have followed Lee to Ohio University to continue their research. Four doctoral students from this group are now working toward degrees from Ohio University.
The university was able to recruit Lee because of a $4.92 million grant in 2008 from the state of Ohio's Research Scholars Program, which aims to entice eminent scholars to conduct research at Ohio
universities. Just two were awarded in the state: one at Ohio University, and one at The Ohio State University.
To create the position, the Russ College was required to match the grant. Funds from the recent $95 million bequeath from alumnus Fritz Russ and his wife, Dolores, provided this critical support.
The gift is the largest charitable gift to any public university in the state of Ohio – or any public engineering college in the United States.
“This position is a direct result of our ability to secure support for nationally recognized researchers and scholars, which in this case was made possible by the Russes’ transformational gift of 2008,” said Dean Dennis Irwin of the Russ College. “We expect Dr. Lee’s research to contribute significantly to reducing the carbon footprint of fuels.”
A fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), Lee is also a member (overseas) of the National Academy of Engineering of Korea (NAEK); as well as Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi and Golden Key National Honor Society; and a distinguished member of the American Society of Patent Holders.
In addition to Lee, Ohio University is home to Ohio Eminent Scholars John Kopchick, biomedical sciences (College of Osteopathic Medicine/Edison Biotechnology Institute); Rajko Grlic, film (College of Fine Arts); and Alfred Eckes, history (College of Arts and Sciences).