2018 Honorees

Dr. Joan F. Brennecke (B.S. ’84)

Joan F. Brennecke is currently Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering #16 in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. She began her academic career at the University of Notre Dame after completing her Ph.D. and M.S. (1989 and 1987) degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her B. S. at the University of Texas at Austin (1984).

Her research interests are primarily in the development of less environmentally harmful solvents. These include supercritical fluids and ionic liquids. In developing these solvents, Dr. Brennecke’s primary interests are in the measurement and modeling of thermodynamics, thermophysical properties, phase behavior and separations. Major awards include the 2001 Ipatieff Prize from the American Chemical Society, the 2006 Professional Progress Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the J. M. Prausnitz Award at the Eleventh International Conference on Properties and Phase Equilibria in Greece in May, 2007, the 2008 Stieglitz Award from the American Chemical Society, the 2009 E. O. Lawrence Award from the U.S. Department of Energy, and the 2014 E. V. Murphree Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. She has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Chemical & Engineering Data since 2010. Her 150+ research publications have garnered over 15,000 citations. She was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2012.


Dr. Justine E. Johannes (M.S. ’90, Ph.D. ’94)

Justine Johannes received her Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin before she went to work for Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1994. Her early career focused on chemical kinetics and integration of verification and validation in developing predictive capabilities. Justine has had many leadership positions including: Senior Manager for Materials Sciences, Program Manager for Advanced Simulation and Computing, and Senior Manager for Structural Dynamics and Solid Mechanics. In 2013, Justine was named Director for the Engineering Sciences Center, with responsibility for advancing and integrating theory, computational simulation and experimental discovery to predict the behavior of complex engineered systems. She is currently the Director for Asset Security and WMD Response providing technology development and emergency response. Justine is motivated to provide technical solutions that support the Sandia motto of, “exception service in the national interest.” She is responsible for leading the laboratory in promoting and growing the collaboration with the University of Texas in research and recruiting. Justine is married to Bill Johannes and they have three children.


Reuben F. Pfennig* (B.S. ’35, M.S. ’36)

Reuben F. Pfennig  was a Chemical Engineer in Research & Development for Humble Oil & Refining Co. in Baytown, TX, and Houston, TX, from 1937 to 1960. He held 13 patents related to butyl rubber synthesis and the extraction-purification of petrochemicals. His work on butyl rubber and aromatics manufacture was significant in the U.S. World War II efforts. In 1960, he transferred to Exxon’s New York City office where he worked in market development. His work at Exxon involved finding customers to build at the company’s Bayport Industrial Park in Friendswood, TX for the purpose of selling Exxon’s products. In 1970, he joined MacMillan Ring-Free Oil in New York City. He worked to develop two new refineries; Newfoundland Refining at Come-by-Chance, NL and Nova Scotia Refining at Halifax, NS. He was the former chairman of American Institute of Chemical Engineers Petroleum and Petrochemical Division, and active member of American Chemical Society, Chemical Market Research Association and Commercial Development Association. In 1980, he and his wife, Dorothy, retired to Austin, TX.


* Indicates posthumous honoree.