Adri van Duin receives Kenneth Kuan-Yun Kuo Early Career Professorship


Dr. Adri van Duin, associate professor, mechanical engineering, is the inaugural recipient of the Kenneth Kuan-Yun Kuo Early Career Professorship, which was endowed in 2010. Emeritus Professor Kenneth Kuo endowed the professorship to support a Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering faculty member whose research focuses on thermal-fluid sciences with a concentration in propulsion and combustion.

van Duin has a background in chemistry, which is unique in a mechanical engineering department, and his work focuses on atomistic-scale simulations of chemical reactions. Computational modeling has many applications in engineering, including materials, catalysis, and combustion. It is van Duin’s work in combustion—a relatively new area for atomistic-scale simulations—that helped him receive the Early Career Professorship.

van Duin works closely with the High Pressure Combustion Laboratory to simulate extreme conditions, which are impossible or cost prohibitive to study experimentally. Using atomistic-scale computer simulations, van Duin’s group can test reactions at extremely high pressures without having to create those environments in a lab. Because the cost is relatively low, computational researchers can test more outlying data to narrow the testing field for experimental researchers.

For van Duin, receiving the Kenneth Kuan-Yun Early Career Professorship is an indication that atomistic-scale computational research can make an impact on combustion and propulsion chemistry, and the Professorship will give him the resources to be more explorative in that area.

van Duin has been associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State since 2008. Before coming to Penn State van Duin was at the Materials and Process Simulation Center at Caltech. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral researcher for the Department for Fossil Fuels and Environmental Chemistry at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. van Duin received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. His research focuses on atomistic-scale simulations of chemical reactions, reactive force fields (ReaxFF), quantum chemistry, combustion reactions, interface chemistry, and organic geochemistry.

Early career professorships offer support by targeting promising young faculty members at a crucial time in their careers. The professorships allow young faculty in the first ten years of their career to establish a commitment to teaching by directing initial energies to the classroom. Professorships may also provide start-up funds for new areas of research and teaching laboratories, as well as offer early recognition for outstanding accomplishments.

Kuo is widely known and recognized for his research in the areas of combustion, rocket propulsion, ballistics, and fluid mechanics. He was the director of the High Pressure Combustion Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. He started at Penn State as and assistant professor in 1972. By 1985, he was named a Distinguished Alumni Professor, and in 1990 he was appointed Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering.


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Shea Bracken



The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the nation’s largest and most successful engineering departments. We serve more than 1,000 undergraduate students and more than 330 graduate students

We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S., M.Eng.) graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering. MNE's strength is in offering hands-on experience in highly relevant research areas, such as energy, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems.

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