University of Utah Chemical Engineering Chairman Milind Deo and U Material Sciences and Engineering Distinguished Professor Anil Virkar each were named to endowed professorships during a ceremony Friday, May 1, hosted by College of Engineering Dean Richard Brown.

Deo was appointed to the Peter D. and Catherine R. Meldrum Endowed Professorship in Chemical Engineering while Virkar was named for the H. Kent Bowen Endowed Professorship in Materials Science and Engineering. The ceremony at the James L. Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building also included University of Utah President David Pershing and Ruth Watkins, the university’s senior vice president of academic affairs.

“It’s a great honor,” Deo said. “It’s a validation of things that I have done at the university, and it’s more motivation to continue to contribute to the science and technology of chemical engineering.”

Virkar has been with the University of Utah for 42 years and has called the arc of his career in Utah “a great ride.”

“I have had great support from the administration both at the college level and at the university level,” he said. “It has been a great pleasure to be a faculty member in the College of Engineering led by many excellent deans over the years.”

Deo received his undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai (formerly Madras) and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Houston in 1987. He joined the U’s Department of Fuels Engineering in 1989, which merged with the chemical engineering department in 1992. Deo became chair of the department in 2013.

His research involves oil and gas-enhanced oil recovery and reservoir engineering, carbon dioxide sequestration, and he helped establish the U’s Petroleum Research Center. He also was the associate dean for academic affairs for the U’s College of Engineering from 2006 to 2013.

Virkar received his undergraduate degree at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and his Ph.D. at Northwestern University. Shortly after, he arrived at the University of Utah first as a post-doctoral fellow and then professor where he has remained his entire career.

During his time here, Virkar has co-founded several companies, including Colorado-based Versa Power Systems and Materials and Systems Research, Inc., in Salt Lake City. Most recently, he co-founded Nano-Oxides, Inc., for the synthesis of nanosize oxide powders. His main research is focused on fuel cells, batteries, multi-species transport and the fabrication of ceramics.

“Professors Deo and Virkar are exceptional faculty members who have had great impact through their vigorous research programs on their respective research areas, energy and electrochemistry,” said Brown. “And we are truly grateful to Peter and Catherine Meldrum and to Kent and Katherine Bowen for their generous donations that established these endowed professorships.”

About the donors

Peter D. and Catherine R. Meldrum — Meldrum is the co-founder, president and chief executive of Myriad Genetics, which launched the BRAC Analysis test, the world’s first molecular diagnostic test to measure hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

He received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and an MBA at the University of Utah and is a founding member of the Engineering National Advisory Council, which he served on from 2002 to 2006. In 2002, he was named as one of the “Scientific American 50” by Scientific American magazine for his contributions to science and technology.

H. Kent Bowen — Bowen has been a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the materials science, electrical engineering and computer science departments for 22 years. In 1992, he also became a member of the faculty at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business. He’s a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He also was the founding chairman of the Engineering National Advisory Council.

He received his bachelor’s in ceramic engineering at the U and a Ph.D. in materials science at MIT. He currently is serving as president of the Boston Temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.