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College of Engineering and Computing

Our People

SAGE is made up of a team of faculty, staff and students working together to enhance the environmental performance of electricity production.

Our Faculty

SAGE is lead by Dr. Jochen Lauterbach within the chemical engineering department.


Dr. Jochen Lauterbach

SmartStateTM Endowed Chair
Professor, Chemical Engineering

Dr. Lauterbach focuses on the fundamental and applied research in heterogeneous catalysis and the synthesis of new nanomaterials, as applied to environmental processes for hydrocarbon based power generation.

 Post-Doctoral Researchers

Dr. Cue Wen

Dr. Wen's research background is in energy catalysis with a focus on understanding reaction mechanisms and catalyst synthesis. During Cun's Ph.D. study, he investigated why hot spots form during methane partial oxidation. Cun's combinatorial research approach revealed that lattice oxygen reducibility is the key factor governing hot spot formation; sophisticated catalysts can be tuned for improved lattice oxygen reducibility. Thus, Cun joined the University of Notre Dame du lac and the University of South Carolina to pursue nanoscale catalyst synthesis skills.


Graduate Students

Nazli Asgari

B.S. - Sahand University of Technology, Iran 2006
M.S. - Sahand University of Technology, Iran 2010

Nazli was born in Tabriz, north western Iran, which is the city of candies. She graduated from Sahand University of Technology in Chemical Engineering. She began her doctoral work with Dr. Padak at USC in the fall of 2013. Her research is focused on NOx-CO formation in High Hydrogen Content (HHC) Fuels Combustion in Gas Turbine Applications.

Elizabeth Barrow

B.S. – Charleston Southern University, 1998
M.S. - University of Miami, 2000

Joining SAGE in the summer of 2013, Elizabeth comes from a mathematical background earning both her BS and MS in mathematics. She is now a Ph.D. candidate in Chemical Engineering and is co-advised by Dr. Jochen Lauterbach, Dr. Jason Hattrick-Simpers, and Dr. Donna Chen. She is currently working to advance biofuel technology by focusing her efforts in developing catalysts and processes for the alkylation and hydrodeoxygenation of waste derived chemicals into diesel.

Kenneth Bunn

B.S. University of South Carolina, 2012

Kenneth was born in Johnson City Tennessee and attended the University of South Carolina where he was awarded with a bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering. He is interested in researching computational modeling of thin film systems and combinatorial analysis of systems. He is currently working on developing a new model for multigun magnetron sputtering for the synthesis of thin film samples. He is also working on the analysis and improvement of the performance of high temperature jet turbine materials. He is advised by Dr. Jason Hattrick-Simpers.

Nujhat Choudhury

B.S. Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, 2012

Nujhat was born in Sylhet, a place known for its tea gardens in Bangladesh. Nujhat joined SAGE under Dr. Bihter Padak's supervision in Fall 2012. Her research focuses on Oxy-coal Combustion for power generation and formation of pollutants.

Benjamin Galloway

B.S. University of Pennsylvania, 2011

After growing up in Memphis, TN, Ben attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he received a degree in Chemical Engineering. After graduation, he came to USC where he is working on various emissions from coal-fired power plants. His experimental research focuses on the reduction of mercury emissions using novel SCR catalysts. He is also conducting theoretical studies with VASP and Gaussian to predict the capture of SO3 in oxy-combustion flue gas.

Michael Mayeda

B.S. Harvey Mudd College, 2008

Michael was born and raised in Hawaii and moved to California to receive a general engineering degree from Harvey Mudd College in May 2008. He is an IGERT student interested in exploring composite materials for energy conversion and harvesting. His research is coadvised with Dr. Jochen Lauterbach and Dr. Thomas H. Epps, III. Specifically, he looks at modifying the surface energy of nanoparticles and studies their phase behavior in block copolymer thin films.

Kathleen Mingle

B.S. Clarkson University, 2013

Kathleen was born in the state of Maine and attended college at Clarkson University in New York. After receiving her bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from Clarkson in 2013 she entered the Ph.D. program at the University of South Carolina. Currently, her research is focused on the synthesis of nanomaterials for energy applications. Kathleen is co-advised by Dr. Jochen Lauterbach and Dr. Jason Hattrick-Simpers.

Benjamin Yi-Ruiz

B.S. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2011

Ben was born in Seoul, South Korea, and his family moved around quite a bit before settling in Columbia, South Carolina. He received a BS in Chemical-Biological Engineering from MIT and is now a Ph.D. candidate in Chemical Engineering under the advisement of Dr. Jochen Lauterbach and Dr. Jason Hattrick-Simpers. Currently, he is working on using combinatorial methods to find novel materials to improve sensitivity of gas sensors under extreme conditions.

Chao Wang

B.S. Fudan University, 2012

Chao was born in Inner Mongolia, which is the northern part of China. He received a B.S. degree in environmental science from Fudan University. He is interested in developing nanomaterials for environmental applications. Now, he is trying to employ high-throughput screening methodologies to discover excellent catalysts for selective catalytic reduction of NO. Chao enjoys ice-skating, playing basketball and going hiking with friends.

Zhiyong Wang

B.S. Dalian University of Technology, 2010

Zhiyong received his B.S. at Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China. After graduation, he joined Dr. Jochen Lauterbach's group at University of South Carolina in 2010. His research focuses on surface science and catalysis with a unique technique: polarization modulation infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy. With this unique system, it is possible to unveil the fundamentals of different reactions on model supported catalysts, thus facilitating catalyst discovery. After his PhD work, Zhiyong would like to work in an industry related with clean energy or environmental catalysis.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.