Kettering creates new chemical engineering, natural sciences departments

FLINT—Kettering University has launched two new academic departments, the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Natural Sciences.

The Department of Chemical Engineering will be part of the College of Engineering. The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering program has been one of the fastest-growing degree programs at the University since its initial offering in 2008. This new department will be led by co-interim department heads Mary Gilliam and  Jonathan Wenzel.

“It is very exciting to have Chemical Engineering join the College of Engineering as a standalone department,” said said Craig Hoff, dean of the College of Engineering. “There is tremendous potential to grow the program further and take it to the next level.”

Gilliam is an associate professor of chemical engineering at Kettering. She has been at the University since 2011, and co-developed the new curriculum as one of the first faculty members in the chemical engineering program. She grew an active research program in advanced materials for mobility applications, thin films and coatings, lightweight plastics, battery materials, modeling chemical emissions from plastics, coatings for biomedical devices, bio-based composites and more.

Wenzel is an associate professor of chemical ehemical Engineering. Before coming to Kettering in 2010, he worked as a research engineer on military projects for four years at the Missouri University of Technology. He has established a research and consulting program in supercritical fluid technology at Kettering.

The Department of Natural Sciences will encompass the former departments of chemistry and biochemistry, as well as physics. It also will house all of the programs previously housed in those former departments. Daniel Ludwigsen will serve as interim department head.

Ludwigsen has been with the university for 20 years. He has served as the physics department head since 2016, and teaches physics and acoustics. His research interests include musical acoustics, noise and vibration, psychoacoustics and the perception of sound. Ludwigsen’s work resulted in a new curriculum in introductory physics labs, a sophomore-level course in computational physics, an engineering-oriented approach to an online acoustics elective and a project-based approach to an upper-level lab course in acoustics.

“The creation of the Department of Natural Sciences facilitates interdisciplinary curriculum design in the natural sciences embracing ‘Impact with Inquiry,’ the motto of the College of Sciences and Liberal Arts while also supporting Kettering’s Bright Future,” said Kathryn Svinarich, dean of the College of Sciences and Liberal Arts.

The interim department heads will remain in place while the university conducts national searches to fill the roles.

Kettering University, formerly known as General Motors Institute, is a Flint-based private, nonprofit university founded in 1919 that ranks in U.S. News & World Report’s listing for elite specialty schools. The university has more than 27,000 square feet of lab and research space used by faculty, students and industry collaborators, and houses the first and only FIRST Robotics Community Center on a college campus in the United States. According to a 2019 analysis of federal data ranking 4,500 schools nationwide, Kettering University degree holders have the highest lifetime return on investment (ROI) in the state of Michigan. For more information, go to

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