At Ohio University’s annual Master’s and Doctoral Commencement ceremony, Gerardine “Gerri” Botte, Russ Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, was recognized as the recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Professor award. “I am thrilled to receive this distinction and especially thankful to my peers who supported my nomination,” Botte said. “I’m truly excited that this recognition gives me the opportunity to select an undergraduate student annually to receive a year’s full scholarship, because I believe my role as a mentor of students is to provide opportunities. Nothing makes me happier than seeing sparks in a student’s eyes – a student excited about solving a real problem, Now, I have another resource to continue enabling opportunities and creating for good,” she added. The award, given to one individual annually, affords the recipient a lifetime designation, one semester of professional leave, and the opportunity to name one undergraduate student annually to receive a year’s full-tuition Distinguished Professor Scholarship.
Gerri Botte, a Russ Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Russ College of Engineering and Technology and director of the Russ College’s Center for Electrochemical Engineering (CEER), is known internationally for developing the electrochemical engineering “pee-to-power” process in which hydrogen can be created from human and animal wastewater for use in fuel cells with clean water as the only byproduct.
“Obviously, we’re extremely honored and happy to have one of our own in the Russ College named as Distinguished Professor – and very proud that this person is a woman, given our goal of inspiring young women to enroll in our programs,” said Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin. “Dr. Botte is close to a prodigy. At what is normally an early stage in her career, she has been involved in significant activities to recruit young women into STEM, and, phenomenally, is also performing world-class research in applying electrochemistry to wastewater treatment, alternative energy sources and sustainable manufacturing – while also being an outstanding mentor to undergraduates in both the classroom and research lab.”
Botte says her immediate future plans are to continue to grow CEER’s collaboration with industry and to bring another variable into her research mix: food supply. “I want to continue creating for good. I want to lead CEER in collaboration with other units on campus, external collaborators, and industry to solve our food, energy, and water challenges in a holistic way. I call this electro-FEW: electrochemical pathway for sustainable food, energy, and water,” Botte said. “We have a hypothesis, and we have a platform. We will prove those, and we will bring transformational solutions to the world.”
Founded by Botte in 2002 as a research lab, CEER now occupies a dedicated 20,000-square-foot facility with more than $10 million in state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure; researchers and students with specialized expertise in electrochemical engineering; and relationships with faculty, government labs and agencies, and other industry members. Under Botte’s leadership, in 2014, CEER received a National Science Foundation (NSF) award to establish an industry university cooperative research center in Athens, Ohio with partner site Washington University in St. Louis. Research at the new Center for Electrochemical Processes and Technology (CEProTECH) focuses on electrochemical alternatives to conventional chemical and biological processes, with the goal of enhancing advanced production capabilities, via a consortium model.
Soon after, the U.S. Department of Commerce and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) established the consortium to support, sustain, and enhance U.S. manufacturing capacity in the nation’s chemical industry and allied sectors through innovative electrochemical processes.
Editor in-chief of the Journal of Applied Chemistry, Botte has authored 128 publications, including 20 patents and 29 pending patents. She has delivered more than 200 presentations at international conferences, and she is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the Electrochemical Society, and the World Technology Network.
The Distinguished Professor Award recognizes outstanding scholarly and creative accomplishments and is the highest permanent recognition attainable by faculty at Ohio University. Recipients must have attained tenure and completed a minimum of five years of service at Ohio University. The award, first given in 1959, is supported by an endowment provided by Edwin and Ruth Kennedy to the Baker Fund.
Recipients of the award present a lecture on a topic of their selection during the annual Distinguished Professor reception and lecture, held in the winter following their conferral. For more information about past honorees, the nomination process, and to view videos of the receptions and lectures from previous recipients, visit