Regents' Professor blends clinical practice with research

February 15, 2012

Editor's Note: This professor profile is part of a series that looks at the achievements of seven outstanding faculty members who were named ASU Regents' Professors in 2011.

Colleen Keller has been honored for her many career accomplishments as a nursing educator and researcher. Among other honors, she has been elected as a fellow to the prestigious American Academy of Nursing and the National Academies of Practice. Her most recent honor – being named the first ASU Regents’ Professor from ASU's College of Nursing and Health Innovation – is perhaps the most satisfying, because the recognition comes from her alma mater. Colleen Keller Download Full Image

The first Foundation Professor in Women’s Health (2008) and director of both the Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence and the Center for Healthy Outcomes in Aging, Keller is among the leaders who research geriatric and racial disparities linked to specific health outcomes, such as cardiovascular health, based on evidence obtained in her clinical practice. She is an expert clinician and nationally recognized scholar who is among the few researchers whose work is being translated into the clinical setting to improve health solutions.

Keller is one of the first researchers in the nation to research health promotion among minority women. She identified the need to develop culturally appropriate interventions that are contextually based, and she devised a social support model that has been used in community interventions across the United States. She currently is principal investigator and co-investigator on two NIH R01 studies.

In reflecting on her career, Keller says that becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) after 18 years as a critical care nurse (CCRN) has been significant to her research.

“It enabled me to ‘marry’ clinical practice with my research,” she says. “I moonlighted at community health clinics for 15 years after I was certified as a NP and currently work one day each week at Maricopa Integrated Health System Women’s Health Center.”

The patients she serves at the Maricopa Integrated Health System Women’s Health Center are primarily younger Hispanic mothers to whom she provides family care, family planning and prenatal care. The new Regents’ Professor feels that the practice links to her research since Hispanic mothers are not as likely to focus on their own health after having their first baby.

“My practice is closely linked to a primary goal of my research to strengthen ethnic and racially diverse women’s decision-making about their own health,” Keller says. “Minority women with health disparities that put them at greater risk for metabolic disease, and who lack access to health care, have an inner core strength that they need to be helped to recognize.”

A nursing graduate of ASU, Keller is on her second tour of duty at ASU. She first served on the ASU nursing faculty from 1988 to 1994 before joining the School of Nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

“I returned to ASU because the university recognizes nursing as a science and has earned a transdisciplinary reputation nationally,” she explains. “I also wanted to work with former dean Bernadette Melnyk, who made the college a trendsetter and who understood that our science goes beyond diagnosis. Now, our challenge is to make the products of our research sustainable.”

True to her nature of being different to make a difference, Keller has her own definition of geriatrics – an area in which she is dedicated to finding better health outcomes in aging as well as building geriatric nursing educator capacity through the Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at ASU.

“Geriatrics isn’t an age,” she says. “It is a process in the care and research that we provide to influence healthy aging behaviors across the lifespan.”

Teri Pipe, newly appointed dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, says she appreciates the difference that Keller has made at ASU.

“It is an honor and a joy to have Colleen Keller as a leader and senior faculty in the college,” Pipe says. “She is a pillar of strength on which we plan to build future research initiatives.”

Keller does not see being named a Regents’ Professor as changing her work. She plans to keep doing what she has done for 20 years: combining her clinical practice and research.

“The real value of the honor is that it opens the door for my colleagues to do the same, just as former ASU faculty Nancy Melvin and Patricia Moore did for me.”

Terry Olbrysh
Health Solutions


Regents’ Professor expands horizons of chemical engineering

February 15, 2012

Editor's Note: This professor profile is part of a series that looks at the achievements of seven outstanding faculty members who were named ASU Regents' Professors in 2011.

As a young college student in China, Jerry Lin didn’t think a degree in chemical engineering would take him far. Jerry Lin Download Full Image

“I thought I would finish college and work in a factory in China as a technician,” Lin recalls. Thirty years later, his degree has taken him around the world.

Lin was drawn to an emerging area of chemical engineering and his mastery of it would earn him a scholarship for graduate study in the United States, a post-doctoral research job at a leading university in Europe and faculty positions at American universities.

He became not only a leader in the field but helped ignite its evolution into a virtually new specialty.

His achievements put him in demand for conference presentations, research partnerships with colleagues and industry, and visiting professorships. As a result, he has plied his trade in more than 40 countries.

Now his stature has earned him a Regents’ Professor title – the highest recognition for a faculty member at Arizona State University.

Today, Lin is an internationally recognized pioneer of modern inorganic membrane science. In chemistry, membranes are thin, porous films of matter used to filter out or separate gases, liquids and chemicals from compounds on a molecular level. Such separation or “selective transport” methods are critical to technological advances in medicine, manufacturing, energy production and environmental protection.

Lin is also known for his work with adsorbents – often granular materials – that can selectively separate various gases and liquids. Combining expertise in materials science and chemistry, Lin creates new adsorbents and membranes and designs the processes for using them for specific purposes.

“We are extending the boundaries of what chemical engineering can do, and that is exciting,” he says.

Lin “was at the top of the list” when the  Journal of Membrane Science sought an editor for  its inorganic membrane section and was “highly effective [in that role] in working with others to advance that technology,”  says William Koros, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who is the journal’s former longtime editor-in-chief.   

Lin “is among the rare breed of academic researchers who have made scholarly contributions that are inspired by real-life applications,” says Rakesh Agrawal, a professor in Purdue University’s School of Chemical Engineering.

Richard D. Noble, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Colorado, says, “Jerry took a field that was an academic curiosity and made it a technical and economic success story.”

But such accolades are not all that motivates him.

“I am recognized more for my research and scholarship, but my students are what I consider my main achievement,” Lin says.

In the past 20 years, Lin has become a sought-after mentor, serving as adviser to 70 graduate students and post-doctoral students who are starting their careers.

“Some come in as raw material, knowing very little, but in four or five years become high-quality students,” he says. “It’s a challenging process that can be frustrating, but it’s rewarding when you produce good chemical engineers. It’s why I’ve chosen to be a professor, not just a researcher.”

His former students are employed throughout much of the world. The field “is attracting top people,” he says, “because there is potential to make an impact and to answer some of the big questions in science.”

To break out of his workaholic mold, Lin takes to the road.

“I like the grand scenic places, the major wonders of the world and the famous historic sites, and seeing different cultures,” he says, listing locales on several continents he has visited.

Education, engineering and science run in the family. Lin’s wife, Alice, is an elementary school teacher in Tempe. Daughter Iris is earning a political science degree and is headed to law school. Daughter Belle, who will soon start college, is “interested in science,” Lin says.

His two brothers are engineers, his mother was a physician, and his father was a government official with engineering training whose duties included managing power facilities.

Lin almost diverged from the family’s course early in life. As a teenager he was an outstanding swimmer, nearly qualifying for international competition. He applied to one of China’s elite sports universities, “and I almost got in,” he says. “After I didn’t, I decided to go in the direction of engineering and science.”

The loss to the sports world became chemical engineering’s gain.


Regents’ Professor, Arizona State University
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
American Institute of Chemical Engineers Institute Award for Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology
Chinese National Science Foundation Researcher Collaboration Award
Li Ka Shing Foundation/Chinese Ministry  of Education Cheung Kong Scholar Award
National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Four patents, 10 book chapters, 215 journal articles and 60 conference papers and more than 300 conference presentations
Journal articles have been cited more than 5,300 times by other researchers with h-index of 42 (42 papers have each been cited at least 42 times)
$10 million in research support from the National Science Foundation, Department of energy, Environmental Protection Agency, the State Of Ohio and industry sources
28 doctoral student dissertations supervised

Editor, Journal of Membrane Science
Visiting Senior Scientist, State Grid Cooperation of China
George T. Piercy Distinguished Visiting Professor, Department if Chemical Engineering and Materials Science., University of Minnesota
Cheung Kong Scholar Guest Chair Professor, Tianjin University
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellow (1998-1999), Department of Chemical Systems Engineering, University of Tokyo
Co-director (2003-2004) National Science Foundation Industry/University  Cooperative Research Center for Membrane Applied Science and Technology
Conference chairman of the 8th International Conference on Inorganic Membranes and the 2010 Gordon Research Conference on Membranes

Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China
Master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts
Doctor of Science degree in materials science, University of Twente, The Netherlands

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering