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International Chemical Engineering Learning

October 15, 2014

About Me

Tom Webster is the current chair and professor in Chemical Engineering at Northeastern. He loves to travel and see the world, learning different cultures which helps him understand his own culture better. His research goal is to develop better materials for improved disease prevention, detection, and treatment. As a child, he broke his femur in the 6th grade which is probably why he is so fascinated by medicine. Of course, he believes that engineers (especially chemical engineers) have and can contribute a lot towards improving medicine, since the human body is one of the most perfect chemical processes there is! 

International Chemical Engineering Learning at Northeastern 

Right now, Chemical Engineering is hosting numerous Colombian graduate students who are conducting research on how to decrease infection, increase bone growth, and other fascinating projects. When I visited Colombia last year, I learned of their focus on researching the use of natural materials for numerous biological applications, from infection control to regenerative medicine. It fascinated me that Colombian's have a culture of respect for the Earth and that should not go to waste when looking at medicine. It is true that many natural materials (plants, herbs, etc.) have been on this Earth longer than we have, yet, in Western culture we think synthetic or man-made drugs, have to be the answer to our medical problems.  Colombian medicine has proven that natural materials have unprecedented effects on improving health, and we have yet to fully discover their reach. As you can imagine, through hosting Colombian graduate students at Northeastern over the past couple of months, they are not only learning a lot about us, but we are learning a lot about their culture and approach to medicine. 

Along these lines, we are expanding our research opportunities to chemical engineering undergraduates to spend time in South Korea, Singapore, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, and other countries to see what else we can learn about their culture and approach to chemical engineering. We are excited to hear when they come back to campus, what they will have learned about other cultures !

What are your thoughts on the benefits of international collaborations?