University of Pittsburgh
March 16, 2003

Pitt Engineering Professor Wins Fulbright Award

Will investigate conversion of waste chemical by-products into valuable commodities
Contact:  412-624-4147

Julie d'Itri, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, has received a Fulbright Award to teach and study at the Schuit Institute of Catalysis at Eindhoven University of Niemantsverdreit in the Netherlands this fall.

D'Itri will teach a class on environmentally benign chemical processing using the active learning instructional method, which has been advocated by the National Science Foundation for the last several years. Rather than the traditional lecture method of teaching, active learning involves teams of students working on projects and solving real world problems. Teachers also help students set goals, while working with the students to evaluate their progress.

Her research will be directed to understanding the elementary chemical reaction steps involved in catalysis using bimetallic surfaces.

"By understanding the molecular level occurrences during the catalytic activation of chemical bonds, chemicals can be produced more selectively, with fewer by-products. And previously less desirable components can be converted into valuable chemicals," d'Itri said.

"The Netherlands program is small and very competitive, so your selection for an award is a mark of the quality of your proposal and the enthusiasm of your proposed hosts," said Andy Riess, senior program officer of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), in a letter informing d'Itri of her award.

CIES is a division of the Institute for International Education (IIE), which administers, the Fulbright programs. The IIE calls the scholarships "the U.S. government's premier public diplomacy initiative."

Established in 1946, the Fulbright programs "aim to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills," according to the IIE Web site.