Research Areas

Chemical Engineering

The rapid pace of globalization provides unprecedented opportunity for developed and developing countries to restructure and grow their economies. However, society must meet the heightened demand for energy and materials utilizing sustainable resources and with technologies that will have limited environmental impact. Our department is ideally positioned to be a major contributor in chemical engineering to address this global need. The focus of our department in this research area is:

Advanced Materials 
& Nanotechnology


Research includes:

  • Biomaterials and biomass-derived materials with advanced properties
  • Energy storage and conversion
  • Carbon capture, utilization and storage
  • Photothermal materials
  • Nanoparticle synthesis
  • Hydrogels
  • Thin film coating and interface engineering

Advanced materials are prepared by various synthesis technologies (e.g., atomic/molecular layer deposition, flame spray pyrolysis and synthetic biology) for very broad applications including carbon capture, utilization, storage, and energy storage and conversion.


Novel Chemical Processes
& Technologies


Research includes:

  • Electro- and thermo-catalysis for the renewable chemical production
  • Operando analysis of energy storage and chemical production processes
  • Carbon dioxide capture, utilization, and storage
  • Low-temperature plasma processing
  • Novel analytical tools and methods for chemical composition and reactions
  • Novel extraction methods for critical element recovery
  • Decarbonized energy technologies
  • Process intensification

Novel chemical processes and technologies, including but not limited to electro- and thermo-catalysis process, low-temperature plasma processing, and processing intensification, are applied for renewable chemical production, lignocellulose valorization, critical element recovery and decarbonization.


Synthetic Biology & Bioproduct Engineering


Research includes:

  • Designing and optimizing microbial and algal cell factories
  • Improving efficiencies and robustness of microbial production systems
  • Sustainable biofuel and biochemical production
  • Synthetic biological material discovery and biomanufacturing
  • Bioproduct engineering
  • Valorization of lignocellulose, wastewater and other waste streams
  • Integrated biorefining
  • Understanding the behavior of microbial consortia

Addressing global challenges related to the need for sustainable solutions to meet the world's growing materials and energy demand by harnessing the molecular building blocks of renewable resources and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes to develop and manufacture sustainable industrial and consumer products.