Our Vision: From Molecules to Systems
The recent revolutionary advances in nanoscale science and molecular biology open exciting new avenues for developing new materials, biological products, and medical therapeutics. At the same time, economic and social forces are driving a transition towards more sustainable and environmentally-friendly production methods.
Chemical and biomolecular engineers are uniquely qualified to play leading roles in these revolutions. For more than a century, we have been very successful in developing and refining the tools necessary for translating molecular-level discoveries into new and cost-effective products. To meet the challenges of the new century, however, we must integrate molecular biology and nanoscale science into the scientific foundation of our discipline. This expanded knowledge base will enable us to engineer new products by scaling up processes from the molecular to the system level.
To achieve these goals, our department is continually working to develop and enrich an integrated research and educational program aiming at:
- conducting world-class research in the areas of advanced materials & complex fluids, biosystems engineering, and energy & environmental systems;
- educating outstanding undergraduate and graduate chemical engineers to rise to leadership roles in academia, industry, law, business, medicine and government; and
- promoting interdisciplinary collaborations and forming bridges linking Rice innovations to applications in the chemical, energy, biotechnology and materials industries.
The targeted research areas provide many opportunities for interdisciplinary research that emphasizes a combination of theoretical, computational, and experimental approaches. This culture of collaboration is an integral part of our departmental tradition. Starting with its involvement in the emerging petrochemical industry in the 1920’s and continuing with its pioneering work on artificial heart devices in the 1960’s, our department has a long history of successfully tackling multidisciplinary problems and expanding the reach of chemical engineering to new areas.
Over the past two decades, Rice has established several institutes and centers to promote interdisciplinary research on nanotechnology, biological sciences and engineering, information technology, and environmental engineering. Our faculty members play key roles in:
Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN),
The Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST),
The Shell Center for Sustainability (SCS),
Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB),
Energy and Environment Initiative (EEI)
Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology (K2I).