Three alumni of Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering are among 40 distinguished honorees recognized in the Georgia Tech Alumni Association’s first 40 Under 40 list. More than 250 individuals were nominated for their innovations and positive community impact by colleagues, peers, and Georgia Tech faculty.
ChBE’s honorees include:
Dhaval Bhandari, PhD ChE 10, Planning Advisor, ExxonMobil
Dhaval Bhandari has contributed to significant advancements in sustainability as well as in addressing the world’s dual energy challenge. His research has been at two of the nation’s top energy-focused industrial labs: ExxonMobil Research and Engineering and General Electric Global Research. Dhaval has filed more than 20 U.S. patents and applications. And at 26, he became one of the youngest principal investigator of a federal grant, leading a 15-member team with a $3 million grant from the Department of Energy. At Tech, Dhaval was most inspired by those around him including his PhD advisor Prof. Bill Koros. “I learned from him that often scientific pursuits are a lonely journey and it takes time for the people to understand and appreciate your contributions. It is in tough times like these that one should keep faith in their work, choose happiness, and treat every day as a learning opportunity,” Dhaval says.
Fun Fact: He never gives a “yes” or “no” answer immediately—not even to his 4-year-old son. He prefers thinking deeply about any question before answering.
Samirkumar Patel, PhD ChE 11, President & CEO, Moonlight Therapeutics
Samirkumar Patel is in awe of the science and technology that powers break-through advancements in medicine. “It’s truly amazing what we can now do for patients,” he says. “These advances give me encouragement on what can be possible, but somehow the tools we have still seem inadequate.” As a scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur, Samirkumar is propelling the next wave of unimaginable medical advancements of the future. While obtaining his PhD from Georgia Tech, he made a discovery in a GT lab that led him to invent a new way to deliver drug treatment into the eye to treat eye diseases. With this technology, he started Clearside Biomedical in 2011. Two years ago, he started his second venture, Moonlight Therapeutics, to develop a treatment for food allergies by targeting drug delivery to the skin’s immune cells using a dermal stamp.
Fun Fact: I like to grow vegetables. I come from a family of farmers and while in India I spent time on the family farm. I feel like my early joy in farming is linked to my later joy in being an entrepreneur/ creator/ builder.
Graham Thorsteinson, ChBE 06, MS ChE 07, Chief Technology Officer, Energy One Consulting
With a passion for analyzing complex problems, Graham Thorsteinson has devoted his career to one of the most pressing problems facing the world today: reducing energy use. After leading General Mills’ energy program for nearly 10 years, leading to a reduction in overall energy use by 20% and delivering $25 million in annual savings, Thorsteinson co-founded Energy One Consulting. In 2018, The Association of Energy Engineers awarded Energy One with National Project of the Year for its work improving energy efficiency at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world. Thorsteinson’s low capital approach focuses on optimizing existing systems without requiring significant capital upgrades. For instance, at Hartsfield-Jackson, they were able to optimize over 20,000 tons of chillers, 300 large air handlers, and 100,000 lights leading to a reduction in electricity usage by 11% and water usage by 17%. The project has resulted in $11 million in energy cost savings. “Energy efficiency is still one of the most untapped opportunities for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and has quick financial paybacks for companies,” he says.
Fun fact: He and his wife have seen five of the seven wonders of the world. Some of his favorite memories traveling include being charged by a Rhino and being tricked out of granola bars by monkeys in Cambodia.
Related: Earlier in 2020, ChBE featured Thorsteinson in a profile story.