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ChBE research groups


Biosystems engineering focuses on the integration of molecular biology, protein engineering and high throughput technologies with systems modeling methodological approaches. It aims at: a) first obtaining a complete (vs by parts) understanding of the biological system, from the molecular up to the cell population level and b) developing and applying strategies to engineer (design, optimize and control) its performance in general.


Availability of inexpensive energy has long been identified as a key element for economic prosperity and national security. For decades, the energy industry has been a driver of research on new materials and tools for thermophysical property measurement. The production of hydrocarbons for meeting our energy needs and providing raw materials to the petrochemical industry will continue to be a dominant industry driver for decades to come. However, it is now recognized that production and use of hydrocarbons comes with an environmental cost. Therefore, emissions associated with hydrocarbon use and surface subsidence in areas around reservoirs will continue to be areas of important research.


For novel materials to be useful to society, they must be economical to manufacture. This is the reason why our departmental research efforts focus not only on the design and synthesis of materials at the molecular and nanometer scales (Biswal, Wong), but also on the development and optimization of processes to manufacture these materials for commercial applications (Mantzaris, Pasquali, Wong, Zygourakis).


Sibani Lisa Biswal

Biswal Lab

Colloids, polymers, lipids and foams are all examples of soft matter, the physical properties of which are easily deformed by thermal forces.  These systems are commonly found in nature and have a number of important applications.  By manipulating these systems using microfluidic devices or micromechanical structures, we are able to understand their fundamental properties and engineer materials with new functionalities.


Walter G Chapman

Chapman lab

In Chapman’s research group, we develop statistical mechanics based molecular theories to study structure-property relations in complex fluids. We also refer to molecular simulation, NMR and other experimental techniques to validate our models.

Our current interests include polymer solutions, blends, brushes and composites, associating fluids, confined fluids, asphaltenes and electrolytes.


Ramon Gonzalez

Gonzalez lab

The long-term goal of our research is the development of biological platforms for the production of chemicals and fuels from renewable sources. To this end, we use a wide spectrum of approaches and state-of-the-art techniques typically viewed under different disciplines such as Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Biochemistry, and Molecular & Cellular Biology.

Our research embraces three general areas: Metabolic Engineering, Functional Genomics and Systems Biology, and Microbial and Cell Cultures.


George Hirasaki

Hirasaki lab

Our core research areas include the study of surfactant and foam Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) processes, asphaltene deposition, NMR studies of core samples, core analysis, methane gas hydrates and carbon capture and storage. As the Director of this research consortium, I thank you for your interest in our research and welcome you to potential opportunities for collaboration and participation.


Deepak Nagrath

Nagrath lab

The goal of our work is to offer an important window to understand the role of environmental stress/factors interactions with the cellular components, and in modulating those interactions optimally to improve human health. In an effort towards understanding the energetic basis of embryonic stem cells (ESC) transcriptional network, Professor Nagrath is focusing on developing framework that can predict the abundance of topological motifs in the transcriptional regulatory network using combined thermodynamics and Pareto optimality analysis.


Matteo Pasquali

Pasquali lab

The unifying research theme of the cf2 group, led by Prof. Matteo Pasquali, is the interaction of flow and liquid micro- and nano-structure. Most engineered materials are formed and/or processed in the liquid state; they are complex fluids because they possess intrinsic length scales that are well-separated from the macroscopic length scales of the process (usually tens of micrometers to meters) and the nanoscopic length scales of the solvent (usually smaller than one nanometer). For example, in polymer solutions and melts the intrinsic length scale is the length of the polymer (usually hundreds of nanometers to few micrometers), which is well separated from the finer length scales (solvent diameter in solution, polymer diameter in melts). The large scale microstructural features relax on timescales that overlap the flow time scales; thus, the dynamic morphology can differ dramatically from the equilibrium one, and this changing morphology affects the flow and produced intriguing nonlinear dynamical phenomena that are not observed in flowing liquids of low-molecular weight.


Laura Segatori

Segatori lab

Our ultimate goal is to study and engineer the cellular networks that maintain protein homeostasis for applications in biomedicine and bionanotechnology. Our research focuses on: deciphering the relationship between protein misfolding and disease, manipulating cellular pathways that regulate protein degradation, engineering clearance of toxic cellular substrates, understanding the interaction of engineered nanoparticles with cells, and identifying the design rules to generate nanoparticles that enhance cellular clearance

Our laboratory is involved in both fundamental and applied research and it is highly multi-disciplinary, working at the interface between chemical engineering and biology.


Francisco Vargas

Vargas lab

Our research group is focused on developing innovative experimental approaches and simulation tools to understand and predict the structure, phase behavior, thermodynamic and transport properties of complex fluids, at high temperatures and pressures.

An important component of our current research program is dedicated to finding solutions to major flow assurance problems in the oil industry, such as asphaltene deposition.

We are also interested in developing integrated approaches for an efficient and sustainable enhancement of the production of conventional and unconventional energy resources.


Rafael Verduzco

Verduzco lab

Our research focuses on investigating the fundamental properties of polymeric materials and on the development of functional polymers. Current areas of interest include solution-processible photovoltaics, bottlebrush polymers, stimuli-responsive liquid crystal elastomers, and polymer-coated nanoparticles for enhanced oil recovery. In each of these project areas, we implement materials design and synthesis and nanoscale characterization tools.


Mike Wong

Wong lab

Our research program broadly addresses engineering problems using the tools of materials chemistry. We work in the thematic area of nanotechnology and currently in the application areas of energy (chemicals production from oil/gas and biomass), downhole oil detection and enhanced recovery, photovoltaics, rechargeable batteries) and the environment (water cleanup, green chemistry). We develop and apply materials synthesis techniques to understand better how structure affects the catalytic properties of a nanomaterial.


Kyriacos Zygourakis

Zygourakis lab

Research interests span several important areas of chemical reaction engineering and bioengineering. Applied mathematics, computer simulations, digital video microscopy, and chemical reactor design are integral parts of my research methodology. Currently, his group is focusing on cellular engineering, the development of multi-scale models that describe the growth of heterogeneous cell populations in the presence of mass transfer limitations, and the sustainable production of biochar for carbon sequestration and soil amendment.