Chemical engineering alumnus receives “35 under 35” award from AIChE

Akash Narani recognized for excellence in the field of bioengineering and significant contributions to AIChE

by Emily Sugarman

Published September 20, 2017

Akash Narani (MS 2010) used to stay up past midnight in Capen Hall, solving complex problems with his colleagues and trying to meet assignment submission deadlines.

“My goal is to realize the untapped potential of advanced biofuels and bio-based products, to improve environmental sustainability and human health."
Akash Narani, senior process engineer
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Advanced Biofuels (and Bioproducts) Process Development Unit

“I realized very early on that in order to do well, I had to be a regular in class and complete and submit my assignments in a timely manner. At the time it felt exhausting, but looking back I realize it was all a part of the learning experience and made me a stronger individual,” Narani said.

Narani was recently honored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), with a “35 under 35” award. The award spotlights young chemical engineers and their technical and leadership contributions. It was created to acknowledge early-career successes and promote the accomplishments of the new generation of chemical engineers.

Narani was recognized for his excellence in the field of bioengineering and for his significant contributions to the AIChE National and NorCal section. He currently serves as chair of the AIChE NorCal section.

“My goal is to realize the untapped potential of advanced biofuels and bio-based products, to improve environmental sustainability and human health,” Narani said.

He attributes much of his success towards his time at UB. Narani was a graduate student in UB Distinguished Professor Paschalis Alexandridis’ lab in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and his MS thesis was on cellulose dissolution.

Narani was far from home in Delhi, India, but came to love UB. “I had an amazing experience during my stay in Buffalo —from my research work under Professor Alexandridis to Friday potlucks with friends,” Narani said.

Akash Narami (MS chemical engineering 2010) received the "35 under 35" award from AIChE.

Narani serves as a senior process engineer with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in their Advanced Biofuels (and Bioproducts) Process Development Unit in Berkeley, California. He works with clients in industrial biotech space and national labs that are interested in scaling-up and optimizing their bioprocess technologies to produce bio-based chemicals, materials and fuels.

“I really enjoy the fact that I can apply my chemical engineering skills in the process development work and actually help these start-up companies in realizing their goals,” Narani said.

Narani’s ambition and focus will take him even further. “I aspire to be a successful chemical engineer with extensive experience in the scale-up and optimizing bioprocess technologies which will enable the commercialization of bio-based chemicals, materials and fuels,” he said.

In the future, he would like to apply his engineering, project management and leadership experience to advance to a business management role.

His advice for students is: “It’s important to get good grades in engineering courses; but at the end of the day, it’s even more important to realize the long term application of your research or project work.”

UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is very proud of Narani, and is looking forward to seeing what he does next!