Robbie Hable

Ph.D. Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
Previous Institution: Iowa State University
Hometown: Ankeny, IA
Primary office:


Why was the KU School of Engineering the right choice for you?

For my graduate experience, I was seeking 1) a research project in the field of renewable and sustainable fuels and chemicals and 2) an advisor who would be a dedicated mentor and guide me to success both of which I found at KU.  Coming from a large, highly-regarded engineering institution I had worked with many research groups and professors where the group was 10+ graduate students.  While the funding and reputation of the research and group were great, I wanted a closer relationship and better connection with my research advisor.  I found this great fit during a summer research internship (REU) at KU where I met and worked for my current advisor on the project that is now my thesis.

What are you currently researching?

My research is in algal biofuels. I create a biocrude oil from algae that is comparable to petroleum crude oil we get out from the earth. The unique and sustainability aspect of my research is the algae we convert to biocrude oil is grown and used to treat sewage water at the local wastewater treatment facility. Therefore, we collaborate directly with environmental engineers who study efficiency to which algae treats wastewater while my work focuses on characterization of the biocrude oil and by-products and trying to understand how those products are formed. 

What is your favorite thing on campus or in Lawrence that a prospective student should check out?

There is so much!  From all the bars and restaurants on Mass. St. in downtown to Clinton Lake State Park just outside of Lawrence.  It is very easy to find places to see, events to go to, or activities to get participate in.  I personally enjoy sports.  I am part of 4 different adult sports leagues in the Lawrence and Kansas City (KC) area.  With sports, there are 3 professional sports teams in KC: football, soccer, and baseball which is only a 40-minute drive from Lawrence.  In addition, KU is fortunate to have a successful and tradition-rich basketball program on campus.  The variety, and oftentimes success, of these different sports programs are fun to watch, follow, and cheer for. I also enjoy being outdoors, so when the weather is nice I’m at the beach or on the lake sailing or boating at Clinton or another nearby reservoir around Lawrence.

What advice do you have for prospective graduate students?

Find a research project that you’re passionate about and would be enthusiastic and motivated to study.  If your passionate and enthusiastic about the research, you will find that you are much more motivated to put in the work necessary to find the degree.  I have come to realize that the days and nights that I put in the most hours or most amount of work is not because my advisor told me to or because I have to for an upcoming conference, but because I want to know.  I want to know what the results are, so I can take the next step or make the next discovery, and that self-motivation and desire to persevere would not be there if I wasn’t passionate or enthusiastic about the research I’m doing.

Which committee are you on and what would you like to do in the next year to help current graduate students?

I am on the Public Relations and Marketing Committee, and my goal for the upcoming school year is to share and display the outstanding, engineering research that is conducted at KU as well as the many fun events and insightful workshops put on by GEA and the School of Engineering whether it be internally through newsletters or externally on social media.  I believe there is A TON of cool and interesting research and activities that occur at KU and in the School of Engineering, and I want share and expand upon them as much as possible.


Engineering Research Highlights

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times
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