Esteban Urena-Benavides joined the Department of Chemical Engineering faculty at the University of Mississippi 12 months ago, a move that he says has proven to be one the best choices of his professional career.
“In my view, the University of Mississippi is one of the few academic institutions that gives the opportunity to have a truly balanced academic and personal life,” the assistant professor said. “The School of Engineering and I share the same sincere passion for teaching and research.”
Urena-Benavides earned his doctorate from Clemson University and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Costa Rica. Courses he has taught at UM include Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics and Chemical Reactors Analysis and Design. He is teaching Thermodynamics over the summer and will develop a course on intermolecular and interfacial forces in the future.
Urena-Benevides’ definitely brings significant contributions to the chemical engineering program, said John O’Haver, department chair and professor.
“Dr. Esteban has brought many things to the department,” O’Haver said. “An infectious, positive attitude, great interactions with students, an excellent start to a new research area, a willingness to help, someone who understands who we are and who wants to make us even better.”
Urena-Benevides said his previous professional achievements have helped him be where he is today.
“Life has taken me to complete three postdoctoral appointments at Auburn University, Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Texas at Austin,” he said. “This has given me the opportunity to publish high-impact research in a wide variety of fields and learn directly from some of the most brilliant researchers in the world.”
His research interests are related to sustainable nanotechnology.
“Mostly, I will use fundamental colloids and interfacial science principles to develop carbon monoxide foams for greenhouse gas underground sequestration, oil-and-water emulsions for oil spill cleanup and novel sustainable nano-composite materials,” he said. “Mainly, I will take advantage of the properties of bio-based carbohydrate nanoparticles.”
His short-term goals are to become an exceptional teacher and researcher.
“I am committed to high-quality education at undergraduate and graduate levels,” Urena-Benevides said. “Charles Eckert, who is one of my postdoctoral advisers, once told me, ‘the main product of a university is its students, and research is a highly valuable tool we use to make an excellent product.’ I truly share that view and I will develop my career with that in mind.”
His long-term goals are to contribute to improving the image of Ole Miss nationally and internationally by graduating better-prepared students at all levels, publishing groundbreaking research and giving service to the state.
“I seek to develop economically and environmentally viable technologies to improve the sustainability of the U.S. materials and energy industries,” he said. “For this purpose, I hope to lower the environmental impact of traditional energy sources, support the implementation of alternative energies and facilitate underground sequestration of carbon monoxide to mitigate global warming. I will also contribute introducing sustainability topics to middle schools across the state of Mississippi.”
Urena-Benevides said his wife, Linda, and son, Damian, are the most important parts of his life.
The family enjoys taking short road trips to experience the natural beauty of Mississippi and surrounding areas, as well as the different urban regions within moderate proximity to Oxford. When possible, they also like watching and playing soccer.