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John P.


Lewis K Downing Hall, Room 2013

Faculty Details


B.Tech.1982: Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India
M.S., 1983: Engineering Science, University of California, San Diego, California
Ph.D., 1986: Biochemical Engineering, University of California, San Diego, California


Bioenvironmental Engineering, Biochemical Engineering, Sustainable Development, Appropriate Technology, Ethics in Engineering, Engineering Education, Service Learning


Prof. Tharakan’s research interests and experience are in environmental engineering and biotechnology, appropriate technology development and education, and sustainable development. His bioenvironmental engineering research has focused on the use of biological technologies for the remediation of contaminated environmental media. Appropriate technology research has had specific focus on technologies for water treatment and conservation, renewable energy production using solar and biomass resources, and waste management and resource recovery. Professor Tharakan’s scholarly work has also focused on the ethics and philosophy of technology, with particular emphasis on the role of the research university in sustainable development. As Faculty Adviser to Howard University’s Engineers Without Borders student chapter, he has worked on appropriate water, sanitation and energy technology implementation in developing communities in Senegal and Kenya (http://www.howard.edu/Kenya). He has also served as Chair or Co-Chair of an on-going series of International Conferences on Appropriate Technology (2004 – 2014) that have been held across Africa bringing together academics, researchers, practitioners and community groups to facilitate knowledge and technology transfer for social justice (http://www.appropriatetech.net).

Subjects Taught: 

Blackboard Use for Engineering and Technology Faculty,
Philosophy and Ethics of Appropriate Technology,
Fundamentals of Hazardous Waste Treatment I: Biological Processes,
Fundamentals of Hazardous Waste Treatment II: Applications of Biological Processes,
Bioprocess Engineering,
Environmental Justice,
Kinetics and Reactor Design – Undergraduate and Graduate,
Introduction to Chemical Engineering Design,
Introduction to Engineering,
Chemical Engineering Material Balances,
Chemical Engineering Energy Balances,
Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics,
Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering

Detailed Information

About Me: 

John Tharakan is Professor, College of Engineering, Howard University (HU), and Director, Graduate Studies, Chemical Engineering. His research is in bioenvironmental engineering, appropriate technology (AT), education, sustainable development, and ethics. Bioenvironmental research focuses on bioremediation. AT research is on water, renewable energy, and waste management. Ethics of technology research has emphasis on university roles in development. As Faculty Adviser to HU’s Engineers Without Borders, he has taken students on projects in water, sanitation and energy to Senegal, Kenya and El Salvador. He is Co-Chair of series of International Conferences on AT, held across Africa, to facilitate knowledge/technology transfer for social justice.

Appointments and Affiliations
2010 – Present Member, Board of Scientific Counselor’s, UE EPA
2009 – Present Faculty Leadership Council, Engineers Without Borders-USA
2009 – 2013 Chair, Faculty Performance Evaluation System Committee, College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences, Howard University.
1994 - Present Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Chemical Engineering, Howard University, Washington, DC
2009 – 2010 Interim Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering, Howard University
2002 - 2005 Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering Architecture and Computer Science (CEACS), Howard University.
2002 – Present Chair, Educational Programs and Policies Assessment Committee, Department of Chemical Engineering, CEACS, Howard University
1990-Present Director, Biochemical and Bioenvironmental Engineering Research Laboratory, Howard University

2008 – 2009 CETLA Fellow (Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Assessment), Howard University, Washington, DC, USA
2006 – 2007 Senior Fulbright Research Scholar, New College, Chennai, India
2001 – Present: Professor of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering Architecture and Computer Sciences, Howard University
2004 – Present Adjunct Professor of Public Health, College of Medicine, Howard University.
1994 – 2000: Research Collaborator, Brookhaven National Laboratories, LI, NY
1986 – 1990: Scientist I, American Red Cross, Blood Research Lab, Rockville

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions
Scientific and Research Awards and Honors:
2006 – 2007: Senior Fulbright Research Scholar to India
1997 – 2005: Consistently Received Faculty Merit Award, Howard University
1996 – 1997 Faculty Sustained Superior Performance Award
1995 – 1996 Faculty University Merit Service Award

Educational Honors and Awards:
2013 Outstanding Contribution to Africa and the African Diaspora, Howard University Faculty Senate Award.
2011 Best Presentation Award, International Engineering and Technology Education Conference (IETEC 2011), Kuala Lumpur, January 2011.
2009 Outstanding Teaching Award, Howard University, Faculty Senate
2008 Outstanding Syllabus Award, Howard University, Center for Teaching, Learning and Assessment (CETLA), Honorable Mention
2007 Teaching with Technology Award, Howard University, Center for Teaching, Learning and Assessment, Honorable Mention
2006 Inspirational Interdisciplinary Project Award, Howard University Faculty
2005 Outstanding Paper Contribution Platinum Award, 8th UNESCO
International Center for Engineering Education Conference on
Engineering Education, Kingston, Jamaica, February 2005
2004 1st Honorable Mention Award, 1st International Conference on
Appropriate Technology, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, July 2004.
2002 Best Paper Award, Environmental Engineering Division, American
Society of Engineering Education
2001–2002 Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Engineering, Architecture and
Computer Sciences, Howard University
1996-1997: Outstanding Teacher Award, School of Engineering, Howard University

Representative Publications
• Tharakan, J., “Integration of Indigenous Knowledge Systems into Appropriate Technology Development,” Proc. 6th International Conference on Appropriate Technology, K. Madzima (ed) Policy and Standards Section; Nairobi, Kenya, November 2014.
• Tharakan, J., “Indigenous Knowledge Systems – A Rich Appropriate Technology Resource,” African J. Sci.Tech.Innovation and Development, In Press (2014).
• Verharen, C., B. Gutema, J. Tharakan, F. Bugarin, J. Fortunak, G. Kadoda, M. Liu and G. Middendorf, “African Philosophy: A Key to African Innovation and Development,” African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development, DOI: 10.1080/20421338.2014.902565 (2014).
• Verharen, C, J. Tharakan, G. Middendorf, G. Kadoda, J. Fortunak and F. Bugarin, “Survival Ethics in the Real World – The Research University and Sustainable Development,” J. of Science and Engineering Ethics, 20, 135-154, March 2014.
• Tharakan, J., “Service Learning in Engineering Education for Capacity Building and Sustainable Development”, Proc. 2nd Intl. Engineering and Technology Education Conference, November 3-7, 2013, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
• Verharen, C, J. Tharakan, G. Middendorf, G. Kadoda, and M. Castro, “Introducing Survival Ethics into Engineering Education and Practice,” J. of Science and Engineering Ethics, 13, December, 2011.
• Tharakan, J., “Cradle to Cradle: Pollution Prevention and Resource Management in the 21st Century,” Workshop on Knowledge Management for Environmental Sustainability: Towards a Sudanese Society that is Environmentally Conscious and Conserving, DAL Excellence Center, Khartoum, Sudan, June 2013 (Keynote Presentation).
• J Tharakan, “Hollow Fiber Bioreactors: From Biotherapeutics Production to Wastewater Treatment,” in Chandra, S (ed) Proc. Intl.Conf. on the Impact of Physical Sciences on Biology, pp.45 – 52, Queen Mary’s College, Chennai, India, July 2011.
• J Tharakan, “An Investigation of Biotransformation and Bioaccumulation of Polychorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in Vermicompost Systems with Eisenia foetida Earthworms,” Proceedings of the International Conference on Environmental Pollution, Restoration and Management, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, March 2010.
• J Tharakan, “Potential for Algal Biomass as a Sustainable Resource for Energy Production and Environmental Remediation,” in Krishnamurth, V (ed) Proc. Intl Conf.Algal Biomass, Resources and Utilization (ICABRU 2009) pp 11 – 17; Algal Biomass, Krishnamurti Institute of Algology, Chennai, India (2010).
• J Tharakan, “Decentralized Renewable Energy Systems as a Core Rural Development Policy,” Proceedings Symposium on Anaerobic Degradation and Renewable Energy Through Microbes, Birla Institute of Science and Technology, Goa, India, January 13 – 15, 2009.
• J Tharakan (ed), Proceedings of Symposium on Biological Methods of Waste Treatment and Management in South India, The New College, Chennai, February 2007.


Associate Professor Preethi Chandran Awarded $500K NSF Grant for Biological Research

Tue, September 29, 2020

Chemical Engineering Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Preethi Chandran, Ph.D., received a $500K grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Excellence in Research (EiR) program to study the biophysics of the shield of sugars (glycans) that typically covers pathogens.Read More >>

Associate Professor Preethi Chandran Partners with Heart of Tabitha Foundation on STEM and College Readiness Workshop

Fri, September 11, 2020

The Heart of Tabitha Foundation partnered with Howard University Chemical Engineering Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Preethi Chandran, Ph.D., and Catholic University Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Otto Wilson, Ph.D., to continue offering its annual summer workshop for local high school students in a virtual setting. The workshop focused on college readiness and STEM careers and featured speakers from several professions. Read More >>


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