Name change highlights links between engineering and biology

By Zaki Yamani ZakariaNo Comments

nanotechnologyThis news is adopted from Princeton University website.

Reflecting the growing intersection of biology and engineering, the Department of Chemical Engineering will change its name as of July 1, 2010, to the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

“Adding ‘biological’ to our name makes a public statement,” said Richard Register, who chairs the department. “It signals to the community — especially prospective graduate students and faculty — our commitment to leading in this area of great scientific and social importance.”

The name change was formally approved at the Faculty Meeting on Dec. 7.

The field of chemical engineering has had longstanding ties to biology, Register noted. Fermentation processes, discovered millennia ago, became a modern tool for chemical production and most recently in making advanced biofuels. Chemical engineers pioneered the use of polymeric materials (plastics) for implantable medical devices and controlled drug delivery.

These connections have developed rapidly in the last decade, and now about a third of the department’s faculty members focus a significant portion of their research on questions related to biology. Two senior faculty members, Christodoulos Floudas and Robert Prud’homme, have moved much of their research into biological engineering. Floudas collaborates with biologists to apply his expertise in optimization to the analysis and design of proteins. Prud’homme has leveraged his understanding of polymers and nanoscale processes to develop innovative drug-delivery technologies.

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