Tech Student Wins Top Honors at National Conference, Nov. 25, 2008

Coco Oucherif By Thomas Guengerich

SOCORRO, N.M., Nov. 25, 2008 – New Mexico Tech chemical engineering senior Kaoutar “Coco” Abbou Oucherif won a top national honor for her poster presentation at the national conference of AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineering) in Philadelphia.

Abbou Oucherif, who was recently named a Macey Scholar, won first prize for her poster about suspending single drug crystals in droplets, using microfluidic procedures.

Her advisor, Dr. Michaelann Tartis, said, “We’re so excited for her. I don’t think any Tech student has ever done that before.”

Tartis said Abbou Oucherif represents the best of Tech students.

“She’s amazing,” Tartis said. “I can’t say enough good things about her. She’s clearly on her way to excelling at grad school and to becoming an excellent researcher. Plus, she’s the sweetest person.”

Abbou Oucherif presented research that she conducted during a summer internship at Purdue University. She spent 10 weeks in West Lafayette, Ind., modeling and conducting experiments with the crystallization of alpha lactose monohydrate, a sugar-based substance that serves as a proxy for pharmaceuticals.

She worked with the process of crystallization, attempting to improve the process of growing crystals in a single droplet of lactose.

Abbou Oucherif also led the Tech chemical car competition team, which did not place, but got worthwhile experience. Other members of the Tech team were Josh Hill, Thomas Budner, Tim Schutt and Kaitlin Allen. Tech had not fielded a team in the competition before.

– NMT –