Chemis can do it

Chemis can do it

CWRU President Eric Kaler leads a call for more national support for chemical engineering.

Not only is he president of Case Western Reserve University, Eric Kaler, PhD, is an accomplished chemical engineer. That background shines through in a new report calling for deeper federal investment in chemical engineering to solve society’s challenges.


Kaler chaired the committee that wrote New Directions for Chemical Engineering, a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that outlines an ambitious future for the field.


The study argues that fresh support for chemical engineering is critical to maintaining U.S. leadership and to meeting coming challenges — including generating medical advances, smoothing the transition to renewable energy, and creating sustainable sources of safe food and water.


Released Feb. 9, the report argues that chemical transformations made possible many of society’s advances, like synthetic fertilizers that enabled the Green Revolution and materials used in everyday electronics—and that chemical engineers are prepared to create new marvels.


“Chemical engineering is often at the heart of solutions to many of the problems we face, but for our field to stay in a position of global leadership and continue our pace of innovation, we need to reaffirm strong investment in this field,” Kaler said in a statement. 


A former professor of chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota, Kaler is a tenured professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Case School of Engineering and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. 


He said the report points to opportunities to be seized.


“We lay out a detailed path forward for where research investments and interdisciplinary, cross-sector collaborations should be targeted to maximize the impact and benefit of chemical engineering to the world in the coming decades,” he said.


According to the report, pressing issues that chemical engineers can address include:

  • Decarbonizing the U.S economy
  • Creating a cleaner, healthier environment
  • Advancing drug discovery
  • Making healthcare cheaper and more equitable
  • Advancing the “circular economy” where much is repurposed and reused


Find the report at the National Academies website,

Eric Kaler, PhD