Denise McKahn, PH.D.
Assistant Professor of Engineering
Denise McKahn is a cross-disciplinary engineer who has studied environmental, mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering through both research and education. She is dedicated to the development of renewably derived fuel and electricity generation technologies through the design, modeling and control of dynamic and complex systems. She is particularly interested in both fuel cell electricity and electrolytic hydrogen production. Her recent work has explored the modeling and experimental validation of reactant and water dynamics in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, as well as polymeric membrane based gas humidification for active fuel cell water management.
A passion for environmental issues, combined with a love of mathematics, propelled Denise to pursue a B.S. in Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University. During these formative years, Denise focused her attention on appropriate technology and energy resources.
While obtaining her degree, she worked on fuel cell design and optimization as a Research Engineer at the Schatz Energy Research Center, a group dedicated to the advancement of clean and renewably produced technologies. Receiving a tremendous opportunity to help establish the Fuel Cell Control Laboratory at the University of Michigan, Denise explored the modeling and control of fuel cell power systems while obtaining an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering.
Having recently joined the faculty of the Picker Engineering program at Smith, Denise is excited for the opportunity to help shape a holistic engineering education within a liberal arts environment in order to challenge the next generation of engineers to not just solve technological problems, but to evaluate the social and environmental impacts of competing alternatives and explore the appropriate use of technology. Denise is committed to encouraging women and minority groups to play critical roles in both engineering and the sciences in search of unique solutions to the unprecedented challenges our society will face in the years to come..