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C.P. Huang honored for lifetime achievements in aquatic chemistry

C.P. Huang honored for lifetime achievements in aquatic chemistry

Former students paid tribute to the extraordinary accomplishments of C.P. Huang, Donald C. Phillips Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware, during a career retrospective workshop held Oct. 3-4 in Taichung, Taiwan.

The event, sponsored by the National Chiao Tung University and the National Chung Hsing University in celebration of his 70th birthday, detailed Huang's achievements in aquatic chemistry and his passion for mentoring students.

Stephen Shu-Hung Shen, administrator of Taiwan's Environmental Protection Agency, opened the event calling Huang “a great master” and “a highly respected and world renowned scholar” who has “nurtured numerous elites in the area of environmental science and engineering, including 38 doctors and more than 60 masters.”

Worldwide influence

Huang was born in Pu-yen Village of Changhwa County in Taiwan. He received his bachelor's degree at the National Taiwan University and went on to earn a master's degree in environmental engineering and a doctorate in aquatic chemistry, both from Harvard University. At Harvard, he studied under Werner Stumm, who is considered the father of the multidisciplinary field of aquatic chemistry.

Huang joined the UD faculty in 1974, and today, he is known worldwide for his work in environmental physical chemistry. He is credited with conducting pioneering research not only on the fate, transport and behavior of pollutants in aquatic environments, but also on treatment and remediation methods.

His work has addressed a broad spectrum of treatment approaches, including separation technologies, chemical and catalytic approaches, and physical methods for environmental protection. His contributions have gone beyond academic research to include providing technical assistance with the implementation of wastewater treatment systems and the production of training materials for system operators. In recent years, Huang has sought to widen the landscape of environmental-related disciplines by devoting his attention to nanomaterials and their potential role in pollution remediation.

Over the years, Huang's work been supported federal and state agencies, professional organizations, foundations and industry, and his findings have been documented in five books, 31 book chapters, and more than 200 refereed journal papers, as well as in hundreds of technical reports and invited and conference presentations.

His scientific reach stretches throughout the global environmental engineering and science community. At UD, Huang has hosted dozens of collaborators and international visitors from various countries including Brazil, China, Egypt, Korea, Spain and Taiwan. He has also taught many short courses and organized conferences throughout the world in countries including China, Hong Kong, Korea, Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan.

A passionate mentor

According to Shen, many of Huang's former students have become leading educators in Taiwan, “pillars of strength in the environmental protection” arena, as well as industry and government leaders in global preservation.

Huang's accomplishments as a teacher and mentor have been recognized with the Gordon Maskew Fair Medal for Outstanding Service in Engineering Education from the Water Environment Federation, a not-for-profit technical and educational organization of water quality professionals, and the 2007 Graduate Advising and Mentoring Award from the University of Delaware. In 2008, he was honored with the Francis Alison Award, the highest faculty honor bestowed at UD.

“C.P. has dedicated four decades to educating and inspiring students at the University of Delaware,” says Michael J. Chajes, dean of UD's College of Engineering. “We applaud his boundless energy, his relentless pursuit of scientific discovery and his efforts to advance his profession. We are proud to call him one of our own.”

Many former graduate students honored Huang in a commemorative book distributed at the event. Some excerpts from the book include:

“His personal concern for the welfare of his graduate students led to a close personal relationship with him and the memory of my graduate experience is a pleasurable and rewarding one,” wrote Herschel A. (Chip) Elliott, class of 1979.

Heung-Jin Choi, class of 1998, described Huang as an inspiring educator whose “diligent life pattern and sincere passion for his research were always a great inspiration for his students.”

Jih-Hsing (Richard) Chang, class of 2000, said he often “led me to rethink my research direction to gain insights into the scientific truth.”

Article by Karen B. Roberts
Photo courtesy Chuck Weng