College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Black and Veatch Faculty Fellowship for Roling’s computational tools-based research

Roling in front of bank of computer servers

Luke Roling, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, was recently named a Black and Veatch Building a World of Difference Faculty Fellow in Engineering.

Roling and his research group utilize computational tools to enhance metal-catalyzed chemical reactions. “We use high performance computing to solve atomic-scale problems in chemical transformations and materials design. We seek to understand fundamental properties and trends in chemical reactions, toward the goal of designing next-generation materials in a variety of applications. We focus particularly on understanding liquid-phase transformations as well as the stability of materials, which are complex issues limiting our ability to control and optimize reactions.” says Roling.

A cornerstone of the fellowship is Black and Veatch’s belief in the need for innovation to address the long-term needs for safe, sustainable and responsible infrastructure. “We honor the Black and Veatch goals in different ways,” Roling remarks. “The applications of our work are diverse. We investigate sustainable chemical transformations of both petrochemical resources and biorenewable feedstocks, toward engineering a sustainable future driven by efficient and renewable chemical technologies. Other recent projects have focused on environmental catalysis and designing new materials for nitrate remediation in wastewater. We also work in the realm of identifying and designing new energy-efficient materials for next-generation computing and communications technologies.”

Close-up of computer server hardware
Tools of the trade: Large banks of computer servers aid Roling’s computational-based research.

Roling is a primary investigator for a grant funded by the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund that seeks to improve the efficiency of catalytic ethane dehydrogenation processes in natural gas conversion, which are currently limited by substantial deactivation and require expensive catalyst regeneration and replacement. He is also a co-investigator for a National Science Foundation-funded project for the electrochemical production of biologically-derived specialty monomers for new materials in automotive, consumer goods, textiles, and other industries.

Roling joined the CBE faculty in 2018, marking a return to his alma mater in a professional capacity. He received B.S. degrees in chemical engineering and mathematics from Iowa State in 2011. He then earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 and completed a postdoctoral appointment at Stanford University and the SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis from 2016-2017.