Chemical and Biological Engineering

Program Offerings

Offering type

The next generation of technological solutions will come from making unforeseen connections between ideas. With that in mind, the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering curriculum builds in the flexibility for students to pursue their passions. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for a future beyond Princeton. The mission of CBE is mainly (a) to offer educational and research programs of the highest quality that will prepare students for leadership positions in the chemical, biochemical and materials industries; academia; and government laboratories; (b) to help define the frontiers of knowledge in modern chemical and biological engineering through intellectual leadership in research and scholarship; (c) to contribute to the nation’s technological leadership by accomplishing research that stimulates the development of new technologies.

Goals for Student Learning

The Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE) curriculum is designed to provide students with a solid foundation in the principles of engineering, mathematics and science, with an emphasis on chemistry and biochemistry. The goal is to enable students to pursue careers in a wide range of industries including manufacturing, pharmaceutical, energy, materials, biotechnology and many others. To achieve this, the chemical and biological engineering curriculum has a core of common technical courses that is complemented with program electives tailored to the career objectives for each individual student. The program electives explore areas including biotechnology/life sciences, environmental sciences, materials and product engineering, entrepreneurship and management, systems engineering and information technology and engineering science. In addition, all students are required to complete a year-long senior thesis, which provides students with the vital experience of integrating their training in an independent research project.


All B.S.E. students must meet the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the University general requirements within the first year. The student's course of study is planned in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies and the academic adviser and requires a year-long thesis, which counts as two courses. The CBE curriculum is flexible to provide opportunities for students to pursue minors and certificate programs across the University, and to study abroad in their sophomore year.

Program of Study

In the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering a student must choose courses during the sophomore, junior and senior years to provide a core knowledge of chemical and biological engineering and advanced knowledge in a major. The advanced science and core chemical and biological engineering courses in the sophomore and junior years provide the fundamental tools of thermodynamics, transport processes and reactor analysis. In the spring semester of junior year, students take a laboratory-based course that utilizes core chemical and biological engineering knowledge. In their senior year, students undertake an in-depth design analysis with state-of-the-art design and optimization tools.

Students can tailor their specific interests in chemical and biological engineering by pursuing a major that culminates with a senior thesis project. The majors, reflective of the practice of modern chemical and biological engineering, include bioengineering and biotechnology, entrepreneurship and management, energy and environmental technology, materials and product engineering, optimization, dynamics, and information technology, science and engineering for new technologies. Students are required to designate a major and take three courses within that major, and two more courses in two separate areas of concentration for breadth. For a list of preapproved courses, consult the CBE Undergraduate Handbook. The senior thesis is usually undertaken within the major. In addition, students are required to take at least one course each from two of the advanced areas outside their major to provide technical diversity. The advanced chemistry or biology course requirement and the advanced chemical and biological engineering course requirement can both be satisfied by electives in the major.

The program of study is accredited as a program in chemical engineering by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. CBE students complete a minimum of 12 engineering topic courses as required by ABET. This is satisfied by completing the CBE core courses (double credit thesis makes the CBE core equivalent to nine courses), School of Engineering and Applied Science computer science requirement (COS 126) and at least two program electives identified as ET (Engineering Topic content) within the six majors.

Chemical and Biological Engineering Core

The courses listed below are required of all chemical and biological engineering majors:

245 Introduction to Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Principles
246 Thermodynamics
250 Separations in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology
341 Mass, Momentum, and Energy Transport
346 Chemical and Biological Engineering Laboratory
441 Chemical Reaction Engineering
442 Design, Synthesis, and Optimization of Chemical Processes
451, 452 Independent Work or 454 Senior Thesis

Mathematics Requirement

MAE 305 Mathematics in Engineering I

Chemistry Requirement

CHM 201 General Chemistry I, or CHM 207 Advanced General Chemistry: Materials Chemistry
CHM 202 General Chemistry II, or CHM 215 Advanced General Chemistry: Honors Course
CHM 301 Organic Chemistry I: Biological Emphasis

Molecular Biology Requirement

MOL 214 Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology

Advanced Requirements

Advanced Chemistry or Advanced Biology. Students may choose to take either an advanced chemistry course or an advanced biology course. The advanced courses provide greater depth in the underlying science of chemistry and biology. The course may be any 300-level or above chemistry or biology course, including those cross-listed by the chemistry and molecular biology departments. The approved courses are designated in the department's Undergraduate Handbook.

Advanced Chemical and Biological Engineering. One advanced chemical and biological engineering course is also required. This can be any 300-level or above course (excluding independent work) offered by the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Societal Impact Requirement

Of the seven required Humanities and Social Science electives, undergraduates in chemical and biological engineering must take at least one course in the Ethical Thought and Moral Values area (EM).

Additional Information

Special Programs and Options. The flexibility built into the chemical and biological engineering curriculum provides an opportunity for students to obtain a thorough education in the fundamentals of chemical and biological engineering science and at the same time pursue a cognate field (a track) such as biology, business, medicine, chemistry or physics. Students simply elect as few or as many courses in the cognate field as they desire. While some students may concentrate all their electives in a single field, others may prefer to divide their time between two tracks — for example, chemistry and the biological sciences, or physics and mathematics. The following list suggests the many tracks available.

Applied and Computational Mathematics: Elective courses in mathematics, modeling and applications.

Applied Mathematics and Computer Technology: Elective courses in statistical studies, mathematics, electrical and computer engineering, computer science, mechanical and aerospace engineering, and civil engineering and operations research.

Applied Physics: Elective courses in physics, mathematics and chemical and biological engineering.

Biotechnology: Elective courses in chemical and biological engineering, molecular biology and chemistry.

Business and Finance: Elective courses in decision theory, engineering administration and economics.

Chemistry: Additional courses in chemistry and the biological sciences beyond those required in the regular program.

Energy Conversion and Resources: Elective courses with emphasis on conversion of energy as given by the Departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering and Physics.

Environmental Studies: Elective courses in ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular biology, chemistry, chemical and biological engineering and civil and environmental engineering.

Materials Science: Elective courses in materials science and engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, chemical and biological engineering and civil and environmental engineering.

Premedical: Elective courses in ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular biology and chemistry.


  • Chair

    • Christos Maravelias
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies

    • José L. Avalos
  • Director of Graduate Studies

    • Sujit S. Datta (fall)
    • A. James Link (spring)
  • Professor

    • Clifford P. Brangwynne
    • Mark P. Brynildsen
    • Pablo G. Debenedetti
    • David B. Graves
    • Bruce E. Koel
    • A. James Link
    • Lynn Loo
    • Christos Maravelias
    • Celeste M. Nelson
    • Athanassios Z. Panagiotopoulos
    • Rodney D. Priestley
    • Robert K. Prud'homme
    • Richard A. Register
    • Sankaran Sundaresan
  • Associate Professor

    • José L. Avalos
    • Sujit S. Datta
  • Assistant Professor

    • Pierre-Thomas Brun
    • Jonathan M. Conway
    • Emily C. Davidson
    • Jerelle A. Joseph
    • Marcella Lusardi
    • Michele L. Sarazen
    • Michael A. Webb
  • Associated Faculty

    • Mohamed S. Abou Donia, Molecular Biology
    • Ian C. Bourg, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Daniel J. Cohen, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
    • Adji Bousso Dieng, Computer Science
    • Kelsey B. Hatzell, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
    • William M. Jacobs, Chemistry
    • Cameron A. Myhrvold, Molecular Biology
    • Glaucio H. Paulino, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Sabine Petry, Molecular Biology
    • Z. Jason Ren, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Stanislav Y. Shvartsman, Molecular Biology
    • Howard A. Stone, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
    • Jared E. Toettcher, Molecular Biology
    • Claire E. White, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Martin Helmut Wühr, Molecular Biology
  • Lecturer

    • Charles M. Smith
    • Babak Vajdi Hokmabad

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.


CBE 214 - Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology (also EEB 214/MOL 214) Fall/Spring SEL

CBE 228 - Energy Technologies in the 21st Century (also EGR 228/ENE 228/MAE 228) Spring SEN

CBE 245 - Introduction to Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Principles Fall SEN

Application of the principles of conservation of mass and energy to the design and analysis of chemical processes. Elementary treatment of single and multiphase systems. First law of thermodynamics for closed and open systems. Steady state and transient analysis of reacting and nonreacting systems. Three lectures, one preceptorial. Prerequisite: CHM 201. J. Avalos

CBE 246 - Thermodynamics Spring SEN

Basic concepts governing the equilibrium behavior of macroscopic fluid and solid systems of interest in modern chemical engineering. Applications of the first law (energy conservation) and second law (temperature, entropy, reversibility) to open and closed systems. Thermodynamic properties of pure substances and mixtures. Phase equilibrium and introduction to reaction equilibrium. Introduction to the molecular basis of thermodynamics. Applications include thermodynamics of protein stability, the Earth's energy balance, energy conversion schemes, and the binding of ligands to proteins. Prerequisites: CBE 245 and MAT 201. M. Webb

CBE 250 - Separations in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Fall SEN

Fundamental thermodynamic principles and transport processes that govern separations in biotechnology and chemical processing. Staged operations, such as distillation and chromatography, are developed based on coupling phase equilibrium with mass balances. Transport processes driven by electric fields, centrifugal fields, or hydrodynamics provide the basis for understanding ultracentrifugation, membrane process, and electrophoresis. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Prerequisites: CBE 245 and CBE 246. CBE 341 may be taken concurrently. A. Link

CBE 260 - Ethics and Technology: Engineering in the Real World (also EGR 260) Spring EM

An examination of engineering as a profession and the professional responsibilities of engineers. The ethics of engineering will be considered through case studies (e.g., automobile safety, pollution control), and the social responsibilities of engineering will be distinguished from those of science and business. Quantitative decision-making concepts, including risk-benefit analysis, are introduced and weighed against ethical considerations to compare technology options. Ethical conflicts between utilitarian theories and duty theories will be debated. Two lectures and one preceptorial. B. Koel

CBE 305 - Mathematics in Engineering I (also EGR 305/MAE 305/MAT 391) Fall/Spring QCR

CBE 341 - Mass, Momentum, and Energy Transport Fall SEN

Survey of modeling and solution methods for the transport of fluids, heat, and chemical species in response to differences in pressure, temperature, and concentration. Steady state and transient behavior will be examined. Topics include fluid statics; conservation equations for mass, momentum and energy; dimensional analysis; viscous flow at high and low Reynolds number; thermal conduction; convective heat and mass transfer, correlations; diffusion and interphase mass transfer. Working knowledge of calculus, linear algebra and ordinary differential equations is assumed. Prerequisites: CBE 245, CBE 246 & MAE 305. Can take MAE 305 concurrently. C. Nelson

CBE 342 - Fluid Mechanics Not offered this year

Elements of fluid mechanics relevant to simple and complex fluids. Topics include macroscopic balances; derivation of differential balance equations and applications to unidirectional flows; treatment of nearly unidirectional flows through the lubrication approximation; introduction to turbulent flow; flow through porous media; capillary flows; dispersed two-phase flows; and hydrodynamic stability. Three lectures. Prerequisite: CBE 341. S. Sundaresan

CBE 346 - Chemical and Biological Engineering Laboratory Spring SEL

An intensive hands-on practice of engineering. Experimental work in the areas of separations, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, process dynamics and control, materials processing and characterization, chemical reactors. Development of written and oral technical communication skills. One lecture, two three-hour laboratories. Prerequisites: CBE 246, CBE 250, and CBE 341 or equivalents. J. Nunes, M. Brynildsen, E. Davidson

CBE 351 - Junior Independent Work Fall

Subjects chosen by the student with the approval of the faculty for independent study. A written report, examination, or other evidence of accomplishment will be required. J. Avalos

CBE 352 - Junior Independent Work Spring

Subjects chosen by the student with the approval of the faculty for independent study. A written report, examination, or other evidence of accomplishment will be required. J. Avalos

CBE 415 - Polymers (also CHM 415/MSE 425) Fall SEN

Broad introduction to polymer science and technology, including polymer chemistry (major synthetic routes to polymers), polymer physics (solution and melt behavior, solid-state morphology and properties), and polymer engineering (overview of reaction engineering and melt processing methods). Two lectures. Prerequisites: CHM 301 or CHM 337, which may be taken concurrently, and MAT 104, or permission of the instructor. R. Register

CBE 419 - Enzymes Spring SEN

Enzymes are the engines that fuel life, catalyzing a vast array of different chemical reactions. This course will focus first on enzyme kinetics and the structural biology of enzymes. With these tools we will next move to a series of case studies about different enzymes and enzyme families. A. Link

CBE 421 - Green and Catalytic Chemistry (also CHM 421/ENE 421) Not offered this year

Concepts of heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis applied to industrial processes associated with fuel refining and manufacturing of commodity chemicals and petrochemicals. Available routes for similar conversions using alternative, more sustainable feedstocks and processes will be discussed in the context of green chemistry and engineering principles. These case studies will serve as platforms to the fundamentals of heterogeneous acid and metal catalysis, including techniques of catalyst synthesis and characterization, as well as understanding of how reactions occur on surfaces. Two lectures. Prerequisite: CHM 301 organic chemistry. M. Sarazen

CBE 432 - The Cell as a Chemical Reactor Not offered this year

Presents a framework for the analysis of cellular responses, such as proliferation, migration, and differentiation. Emphasis on mechanistic models of biotransformation, signal transduction, and cell-cell communication in tissues. Focuses first on unit operations of cell physiology transcription, translation, and signal transduction. Models of these processes will rely on tools of reaction engineering and transport. Process dynamics and control will then be used to analyze the regulatory structure of networks of interacting genes and proteins. Prerequisites: MOL 214 and MAE 305 or their equivalents. S. Shvartsman

CBE 434 - Biotechnology (also GHP 433/MOL 433) Fall SEN

CBE 438 - Biomolecular Engineering (also BNG 438/MOL 438) Spring

This course will focus on the design and engineering of biomacromolecules. After a brief review of protein and nucleic acid chemistry and structure, we will delve into rational, evolutionary, and computational methods for the design of these molecules. Specific topics to be covered include aptamers, protein and RNA-based switches and sensors, unnatural amino acids and nucleotides, enzyme engineering, and the integration of these parts via synthetic biology efforts. Two lectures. J. Conway

CBE 440 - The Physical Basis of Human Disease (also GHP 450/MOL 440) Not offered this year

This course covers major diseases (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, infectious diseases), the physical changes that inflict morbidity and mortality, the design constraints for treatment, and emerging technologies that take into account these physical hurdles. Taking the perspective of the design constraints on the system (that is, the mass transport and biophysical limitations of the human body), the course will survey recent results from the fields of drug delivery, gene therapy, tissue engineering, and nanotechnology. Two lectures. C. Nelson

CBE 441 - Chemical Reaction Engineering Spring SEN

Stoichiometry and mechanisms of chemical reaction rates, both homogeneous and catalytic; adsorption, batch, continuous flow, and staged reactors; coupling between chemical reaction rates and mass, momentum, and energy transport; stability; optimization of reactor design. Application to environmental and industrial problems. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Prerequisites: CBE 246, CBE 250, and CBE 341. M. Sarazen

CBE 442 - Design, Synthesis, and Optimization of Chemical Processes Fall SEL

Introduction to chemical process flow-sheeting; process design, sizing and cost estimation of total processes; process economics; introduction to optimization, linear programming, integer programming, and nonlinear programming; heat integration methods, minimum utility cost, minimum number of units, network optimization. Two lectures, one laboratory. Prerequisites: CBE 341, CBE 346, and CBE 441. C. Maravelias

CBE 445 - Process Control Not offered this year

A quantitative study of the principles of process dynamics and control. Dynamic behavior of chemical process elements; analysis and synthesis of linear feedback control systems with special emphasis on frequency response techniques and scalar systems. Two lectures. Prerequisite: MAE 305, which may be taken concurrently. S. Sundaresan

CBE 447 - Metabolic Engineering (also GHP 457) Not offered this year SEN

Introduction to engineering metabolism. The objective of this course is to introduce students to current techniques and challenges within the field of metabolic engineering. Specific topics include introduction to metabolism, transcriptional regulation, signal transduction, flux balance analysis, and metabolic flux analysis. Designed for upper division students in engineering, chemistry, and molecular biology. Two lectures. Prerequisites: MOL 214 or equivalent. M. Brynildsen

CBE 451 - Senior Independent Work Fall

A one semester study of an important problem or topic in chemical and biological engineering. Projects may be experimental, computational, or theoretical. Topics selected by the students from suggestions by the faculty. Written report required. Departmental permission only. J. Avalos

CBE 452 - Senior Independent Work Spring

A one semester study of an important problem or topic in chemical and biological engineering. Projects may be experimental, computational, or theoretical. Topics selected by the students from suggestions by the faculty. Written report required. Departmental permission only. J. Avalos

CBE 454 - Senior Thesis Spring

A full year study of an important problem or topic in chemical and biological engineering culminating in a senior thesis. Projects may be experimental, computational, or theoretical. Topics selected by the students from suggestions by the faculty. Written thesis, poster presentation, and oral defense required. The senior thesis is recorded as a double course in the spring. Departmental permission required. J. Avalos