I work on research areas that are topically relevant to current real world concerns. I specifically choose research projects that allow undergraduates to have a meaningful impact.
Professor Ryan Snyder, chemical engineering, changes the big picture by tackling the smallest problem, and he takes his students to the challenge with him.
"I work on research areas that are topically relevant to current real-world concerns," he says. "I specifically choose research projects that allow undergraduates to have a meaningful impact."
Snyder's students play active roles in all three areas of his research involving solubility of pharmaceuticals, better ways to convert chemical energy to electricity, and modeling heart rate dynamics to improve athletic performance.
In his latest research, Snyder logs vital signs of Bucknell field hockey players and runs them through a series of calculations to advance performance and reduce injury.
"We record their heart rates while playing games and before and after practice, and their sleep patterns," he says. "We want to understand how to push them to be as good as they can be and maintain their performance across the season without getting injured."
In his fuel cell research, Snyder designs computer models to predict how solid oxide cells (fuel cells that convert chemical energy to electricity) should be engineered to maximize energy efficiency in homes, cars or other applications.
Snyder says tackling pharmaceutical solubility has become an increasingly relevant problem over the past 20 years, as more drugs have low solubility in the body. This small-scale problem demonstrates to students their potential to change the big picture.
"Understanding core concepts in chemical engineering — how heat and mass transfer, and how reactions occur — on a small scale and how they relate to the big picture is exactly the same thing across all applications."
And that's what Snyder says his job is all about — creating opportunities for students to make a difference as they learn and after graduation.
"I'm passionate about undergrads being involved in research that is meaningful to the world," he says. "It's not about the scholarship without the people. I'm much more about the process, the development of people, and discovering new and important things along the way."
Updated Sept. 30, 2016
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