Prof. Henri EL ZAKHEM is the founding chairman of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University Of Balamand (UOB), and he led the Chemical Engineering Department at the UOB for consecutive 11 years (2008-2019). He pioneered the launching of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering major in Lebanon as this major did not exist in Lebanon before. He assisted in the Maroun Semaan Building design and infrastructure, he established 10 state-of-the-art academic and research laboratories, he set all BS, BE, and MS curricula, he prepared and presented the accreditation file for the Chemical Engineering program for the University of Balamand in Dubai in 2017, and he led the departmental team towards ABET accreditation in 2019.

Prof. EL ZAKHEM is a holder of PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Technology of Compiegne, France (2006), he completed his PhD in 2.5 years, he is a holder of a Master degree (D.E.A) in Food Processing Engineering, and on the other hand, and because he loves multidisciplinarity, he is a holder of a Teaching Diploma in Clinical Psychology from the Lebanese University.

He joined UOB in 2007, he was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 2014, and in 2020 he was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department.

Under his chairmanship, an international capacity-building grant “GOPELC” from the European Union was secured, after rigorous planning of the work packages. The total amount of the project was 563,656 Euros for the duration of 3 years (2016-2019). GOPELC stands for "Gas and Oil Processing, a Lebanese European Cooperation”. Partners are from Romania (Universitatea Petrol Si Gaza Ploeisti), Sweden (Kungliga Tekniska Hoegskolan), France (Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de Saint-Etienne), and Lebanon (Lebanese University, NDU, BAU, and Ministry of Higher education). The main objectives are to address the main issues that the Lebanese society and the Lebanese Higher educational system are facing: Energy problems, Gas and Oil offshore recently discovered in Mediterranean Sea, and to provide qualified professional resources capable of sustaining and managing the gas and oil industry development. The MS ChemE Curriculum was updated with the help of European partners who are expert in the Oil and Gas domains and more than 60 MS students already benefited from GOPELC outcomes. Workshops for UOB faculty members, and internships for UOB students were performed in prestigious Upstream, Midstream, and Downstream Oil European companies, having in mind that no equivalent to these companies exists yet in Lebanon.

Moreover, Prof. EL ZAKHEM championed securing the accreditation of the American Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) with no Concerns. This accreditation is an added value for UOB ChemE program as it is for the Bachelor of Science program while all other accredited programs are for the BE program. ABET accreditation process evidences Prof. EL ZAKHEMs obsession in perfection, and excellence in academia.
In 2015, he designed the BS Chemical Engineering curriculum to the UOB in Dubai. He accommodated all course contents with corresponding lab facilities over the 4 year program after making a thorough study of the Emirates benchmarket. He finalized his strategic planning according to UAE standards, and he presented it in Dubai in July 2017. The state accreditation was provided to the ChemE program accordingly.

Prof. EL ZAKHEM is a Senior Member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and he is a Member of the Order of Engineers in Lebanon. He chaired conference sessions in many international conferences, for instance the IEEE first International Conference on Energy, Power, Petroleum and Petrochemical Engineering, and Mediterranean Gas and Oil Conference.

Prof. EL ZAKHEM represented the ChemE faculty members in the Senate for 6 years (2013-2019). To promote the ChemE programs, he participated in the written and viewed media (i.e: Future TV interview, Shabab News, Globe Magazine …). Since 2017, he has been designated as a Technical Reviewer by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to assess the portfolios of other institutions seeking the legislative authorization of the Ministry.

With an h-index of 13, Prof. El Zakhems research was published in more than 28-refereed scientific papers, and 36 presentations in 24 international refereed conferences to date. He secured local research grants from UOB, Agence Universitaire de Francophonie (AUF), and Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research.

In collaboration with the chemical engineering research teams at University of Technology of Compiegne (UTC) France, he co-supervised a cotutelle PhD financed by the CNRS-L. The PhD candidate defended her thesis successfully in 2015. In 2018, he succeeded to secure another fund from Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie AUF/UOB for a new PhD candidate within the frame of co-tutorship with the UTC, France, as well. Prof. El Zakhem acts as Reviewer in several international peer-reviewed scientific journals, among them: Journal of Food Engineering, Journal of Applied Microbiology, and Journal Of Colloid & Interface Science.
Honors & Awards
PhD thesis selected among the best 13 out of 54 theses at the UTC in the Prix Denielou, 2006