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Sarah Desharnais

Desharnais becomes first OSU student to win top undergraduate honor in chemical engineering

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Sarah Desharnais, a chemical engineering senior in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology at Oklahoma State University, was named the first OSU student to receive the 2018 John J. McKetta Undergraduate Scholarship Award by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Desharnais will receive the award, which includes a $5,000 scholarship, at the 2018 Annual AIChE Student Conference in Pittsburgh on Oct. 26. Only one student nationwide is awarded this honor each year. 

“This is the highest undergraduate award presented by our professional society, AIChE,” said Rob Whiteley, professor, head and Bartlett Chair of Engineering. “This is a tremendous accomplishment. Over the past 100 years, our students have received almost every award available through AIChE, with the exception of the McKetta award.” 

Desharnais, originally from Coconut Creek, Florida, is the current president of Tau Beta Pi and second vice president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at OSU. She is involved in CEAT Student Council, Omega Chi Epsilon, CEAT Student Ambassadors, CEAT Academic Coaches, Order of Omega, and serves as the leadership chair for her sorority. Desharnais also participates in the ChemE Car Competition, where her team placed first at regionals last spring and will go on to compete at the national conference in October. Desharnais will serve as a teaching assistant for the chemical engineering junior coursework through a new scholarship program funded by John Klopp. Last year, she was also a Wentz Research Scholar under Dr. Mari Andiappan and performed research on nanocatalysis. 

“This award means so much to me,” Desharnais said. “I am truly honored to be the first student from Oklahoma State to receive this award. Though one should not need recognition to feel accomplished in their college career, the nomination from Dr. Shah helped to reassure me that my commitment to CEAT has not gone unnoticed and will leave an impact even after I've graduated.”

 AIChE is the world's leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, with more than 60,000 members from more than 110 countries, according to its website. The John J. McKetta Undergraduate Scholarship is awarded to a chemical engineering undergraduate student planning a career in the chemical engineering process industries. The winner is chosen based on grades, leadership and participation in AIChE student chapter activities.

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