Message from Department Chair
On behalf of our faculty and staff, welcome to the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.
This is a wonderful time to be a chemical and biomolecular engineer, as our profession is prepared to solve the most pressing problems facing the world, namely in the areas of energy, the environment, and healthcare.
The field of chemical engineering traditionally lies at the nexus of physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Chemical Engineers created the first revolution of chemical technology in the early 20th century. As an example, the Habor-Bosch process, invented by the German chemical engineers in the 1900’s for artificial nitrogen fixation, solved the food shortage problem in the early 20th century and enabled the growth of the world population from 1 to 7 billion. The process is still being used today to synthesize fertilizers for the production of food and biofuels. This historical example demonstrates the profound impact made by the chemical engineering profession.
Another long-lasting problem of societal importance is the protection of the environment, such as ensuring the quality of our water and air. In the 1950’s to 1960’s, a group of chemical engineers here at UCLA played a key role in the development of reverse osmosis, which is still being used today for water purification. The development of the first asymmetric cellulose acetate membrane at UCLA was a significant invention that established the large scale commercial viability of reverse osmosis to produce fresh water from brackish water and sea water.
In addition, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, UCLA chemical engineers pioneered the catalytic air pollution control of exhaust emissions from automotive and stationary sources. During the 1980’s and 1990’s, UCLA chemical engineers established the theory of aerosol formation and developed ways for its control. These innovative breakthroughs established a strong foundation for the chemical engineering profession as well as for our department at UCLA.
As we entered the 21st century, the field expanded significantly into the arena of biotechnology and has included biology as one of the fundamental pillars of the field. In addition to chemical and physical methods, we now harness nature’s biological capability as a tool to provide vital solutions to the sustainable production of fuels, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, the protection of the environment, and the development of better healthcare solutions.
The expansion of the field into biotechnology prompted the change of our departmental name to Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2005. In additional to the core chemical engineering curriculum, undergraduates now have options to study a specialized path, including semiconductor manufacturing, for students planning to enter the microelectronics industry; environmental chemical engineering, for those who are passionate about environmentally friendly and sustainable technologies, and biomolecular engineering, for students with an interest in biotechnology. Students also have ample opportunities to learn from and to conduct research alongside eminent UCLA faculty conducting cutting-edge research.
Today, the faculty of our department has world-renowned strengths in multiple areas, including biological synthesis of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and biomaterials, water treatment, semiconductor materials processing, alternative energy, nanotechnology, process control and systems engineering. Our faculty has already developed novel approaches for drug delivery, designed smart water purification systems, perfected next-generation technology for microelectronics processing, invented novel battery designs, accomplished molecular-level processing, developed combinatorial methods for catalyst discovery, and advanced mathematical theories and computational methods for solving process control and systems engineering problems.
All of our faculty are world-class researchers in their respective fields and share a strong commitment to the education and professional growth of our students. We have solved critical problems in the past, and we are poised to make even more significant contributions by continuing to conduct world-class research and educating highly motivated and exceptionally talented UCLA students.
Please take a few moments to browse our Web site and to learn more about our curricula, research activities, and current events.
Panagiotis D. Christofides
Samueli Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 101
The UCLA School of Engineering was first established in 1944, with the goal of providing engineers with a broad array of talents to the emerging industrial base of Southern California. The School awarded its first B.S. in Engineering degree in 1947, and its first M.S. and Ph.D. in engineering degrees soon thereafter, in 1948 and 1949 respectively. This interdisciplinary philosophy permeated the school’s activities from the beginning and continues to act as catalyst for research collaborations even today. In tune with the nationwide prevalence of engineering disciplines, the School moved in this direction transforming its research units into departments.
The UCLA Chemical Engineering Program was established in 1983 and received ABET accreditation shortly thereafter. Despite its relative youth, the Department has established itself as the primary supplier of B.S. chemical engineers in Southern California and as a research force to be reckoned with. Departmental offices are located in Boelter Hall, adjacent to Mathematical Sciences, and across the Science Quadrangle from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UCLA prides itself on preparing its students for creative careers in industry, academia, and government. The Department is a community of outstanding researchers, experienced educators, distinguished visiting scholars, and talented students. Our weekly seminars also bring many outstanding visitors to the Department, thereby providing additional exposure to current research at other institutions. Research activities undertaken by the faculty span a wide range of chemical engineering topics and involve studies ranging from the molecular level (characterized by length scales on the order of Angstroms) to the design and control of large-scale production facilities (with length scales in the order of meters and kilometers).
Approximately 120 chemical engineering graduate students are in residence, most of them pursuing the Ph.D. degree. Nearly all graduate students receive financial support either from research and teaching assistantships, or from internal or external fellowships. Teaching is viewed as an integral part of the graduate experience, and all graduate students participate in the instruction of our approximately 400 undergraduates.
The Department has established an international reputation for research and education on the focus areas molecular/cellular bioengineering, process control and systems engineering, and semiconductor manufacturing as well as on the broad themes of energy and the environment and nanoengineering.
- All CBE faculty have won national and/or international awards
- CBE Ph.D. alumni are consistently placed in faculty positions at major institutions and senior engineer positions at leading corporations
To educate future leaders in chemical engineering who effectively combine their broad knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology with their engineering analysis and design skills for the creative solution of problems in chemical and biological technology and for the synthesis of innovative (bio)chemical processes and products.