2012-13 Academic Senate Chair
Robert Powell is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Food Science and Technology at the University of California Davis. He has been on the Davis faculty since 1984. At Davis, he has taught thermodynamics, introductory chemical engineering, chemical engineering unit operations laboratory, fluid mechanics, chemical engineering analysis and rheology. His research is in rheology and fluid mechanics of complex fluids, with particular interest in the development and application of experimental and theoretical techniques that can be applied to real industrial systems. Currently his work focuses on the use of magnetic resonance imaging to study cellulosic suspensions that are used in the production of biofuels.
Bob obtained his Bachelor's (1972), Master's (1973) and Ph.D. (1978) degrees from Johns Hopkins University in the Department of Mechanics and Materials Science in the College of Arts and Sciences. He spent one and a half years at McGill University in the Department of Chemistry. He became an Assistant Professor at Washington University in St. Louis in 1979 in the Department of Chemical Engineering with a joint appointment in the Materials Science and Engineering Program. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1983 and came to Davis a year later in the Department of Chemical Engineering, which later became Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and was promoted to Professor in 1990. In 2000 he was appointed Professor of Food Science and Technology. He served as Chair of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science from 2002-2011.
He began his Senate service in 1988 as member of the Divisional Research Committee, became its Chair in 1989 and served in that capacity until 1992. He subsequently became involved in budget issues at Davis and has served on its Committee on Planning and Budget, including a year as Chair. In 2003 he was elected to the Divisional Committee on Committees, which he chaired in 2005. He became Vice Chair of the Divisional Senate in 2006 and Chair in 2008. He was re-appointed Chair in 2010. In 2009 he co-chaired the Committee on the Future of UC Davis. He was the first Divisional Chair at Davis to simultaneously be Chair of a Department.