BSE ChE '93
Senior Research Engineer
Cory Phillips is never shy about sharing his Michigan Wolverine experiences with his Oklahoma Sooner and Oklahoma State Cowboy neighbors in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Sometimes they get tired of all my boasting, but I can’t help it!” This Detroit native still stays informed about many of the activities going on in Ann Arbor and knows he and his wife, Erika, want to pass on their love for Michigan to their children.
Cory graduated with a bachelor’s degree in ChE in 1993 and received a PhD from the University of Iowa in chemical and biochemical engineering, concentrating on the production of renewable fuels and oxygenates. He returned to Michigan for post-doctoral work in 1998 with Levi Thompson.
“I owe so much to Levi and Derrick Scott of the Minority Engineering Program Office (MEPO) in the College. I’ve known Professor Thompson since high school and credit him for launching my career in chemical engineering. He is a dear friend, mentor, and colleague, who encouraged me to go to graduate school and to pursue a career in energy.”
After working with Honda R&D for a few years, Cory took a job at Conoco-Phillips, where he began his career at the Detroit office in the area of surface tribology/tribo-chemistry. His manager in Detroit was Gary Balzhiser, son of ChE alumnus and former department faculty member and chair, Dr. Richard Balzhiser.
Today, Cory is working with the Advanced Hydrocarbon Fuels group as a senior research engineer at the Bartlesville Technology Center. He is responsible for the molecular design and development of new fuels. “When I first joined ConocoPhillips I was concerned that I may have sold out to big oil and was turning my back on my work in renewable energy. Well… I did, but not really. It is more and more apparent to me that this industry is trying to transform itself, and I realize now this only can be accomplished with the help of researchers like me, who have backgrounds in renewable and alternative energy.”
Cory serves as the lead recruiter for ConocoPhillips to the University of Michigan and will be one of the newest members to the ChE alumni board this fall.
Cory says he puts more effort into family and community these days. He’s been actively involved in his company’s annual collaboration with the United Way. He’s also serving in various capacities with a few church, civic, and community organizations. It’s always been important for him to “give back” to society, and says he is teaching his kids to do the same.
“I was blessed to receive an incredible education from hard-working, gifted people and feel an obligation to do what I can to maintain the rich heritage and tradition of excellence that U–M faculty, staff and alumni share. It always makes me proud to part of this distinguished community, and I am amazed at Michigan’s ability to hire talented scholars and faculty who keep Michigan continually at the cutting edge of science and research.”