Jeffrey Rimer

Professor’s crystal research making advances in medicine, energy

water droplets on glass during daytime

Photo by Braňo on Unsplash

Photo by Braňo on Unsplash

It is often said that one of the most important attributes of a business or home is location, location, location. That can apply to universities as well. Just ask Jeffrey Rimer, the Abraham E. Dukler Endowed Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering.

Rimer’s crystal engineering research includes work in the health care field — studying diseases and ailments like kidney stones and malaria that produce crystals in the body and developing treatments to prevent the crystals from forming. His research also focuses on the energy sector since crystals are used in the production of gasoline and chemicals.

Rimer said UH’s location attracted him to the University 13 years ago, providing the ideal spot for his research. “What I knew being at UH was its proximity to two resources that would really help my research, one being the Texas Medical Center is so close,” he said. “The biomedical work that I do could benefit from that close proximity. Then, all the companies, especially in oil and gas, being here.”

In addition to his research, Rimer enjoys teaching and mentoring graduate students. In fact, he recently earned the Graduate Mentoring Award from the University. “That really meant a lot because that’s the most enjoyment I get personally out of the job,” he said. “It’s working with a lot of the young students and seeing them mature over the course of a four- or five-year project.

Endowed positions awarded to Rimer and other faculty are vital to supporting their educational and research interests. “The ability of the University to get outside funding to support endowments is really about two things,” Rimer said. “Number one, there’s prestige with that. To have an endowment is a point of pride for faculty. And it’s what can attract people to UH. It’s a big tool for retention, to keep people here.”

Rimer encouraged donors to support UH, referring to their gifts as “an investment” that will be stretched to accomplish much more than at other universities.

“But there’s also a hunger at the University, there’s an upward trajectory,” he said. “There’s a feeling across the campus that starts from upper administration, from the president all the way down, that we want to improve in the (Top 50 public university) rankings and want to really rise. So that hunger drives a lot of us, unlike other institutions that are maybe at the top and where some complacency can come into that.

“Money that comes to the University is spent very well in terms of what those companies or donors get in return for their investment.”