Princeton's program in chemical engineering is part of a distinguished tradition of graduate education and scientific research at the University. Formal graduate study at Princeton was initiated in 1869 when three fellowships were established. In 1900, the Graduate School was formally chartered within the University, and 12 years later the first residential graduate college in America was dedicated.
In 1930, Sir Hugh Stott Taylor helped create the Department of Chemical Engineering, which separated from the Department of Chemistry in 1934 and awarded its first Ph.D. in 1948. Through the decades, the department's leaders have attained international stature: Joseph C. Elgin for research on liquid-liquid extraction, Richard H. Wilhelm for chemical reactor analysis, Leon Lapidus for the application of modern computational techniques to chemical engineering problems, William R. Schowalter for contributions to non-Newtonian fluid mechanics, William B. Russel for research on colloidal dispersions, and Pablo G. Debenedetti for the understanding of metastable liquids. In recognition of the increasing role of biotechnology in the chemical engineering discipline, and in our department’s research and curriculum, the department officially became Chemical and Biological Engineering on July 1, 2010.
Research directed by faculty in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering continues to explore and establish foundations of engineering science relevant to the technological and societal challenges facing modern industry and, indeed, our world. Research topics range from the applied to the fundamental, from cutting-edge experimentation to elegant and rigorous theories to sophisticated molecular simulation. Key research advances have been recognized through major awards to our current faculty from leading professional societies, including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (Colburn, Walker, Alpha Chi Sigma, Professional Progress, Wilhelm, Lewis, Stine, Founders); the American Chemical Society; the Society of Rheology, the American Ceramic Society; the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics; the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; and the American Physical Society. The current faculty includes four members of the National Academy of Engineering; ten Presidential, NSF, and CAREER awardees from the National Science Foundation; a Packard Fellow; two Guggenheim Fellows; three winners of New Faculty and Teacher-Scholar awards from the Dreyfus Foundation; two Bodossaki Foundation Academic Awardees; and four members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Our mission is to educate the leaders in Chemical and Biological Engineering by conducting research that defines the frontiers of knowledge in our field. We prepare chemical engineers for careers in teaching, research and development, and management in academia, government, and industry. Building on world-class research and scholarship, particular strengths of Princeton's Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering include our small student-to-faculty ratio, ensuring true mentorship during graduate study; the uniformly strong departments throughout the rest of Princeton University, fostering a diversity of mutually beneficial research collaborations; and our location, amidst the greatest concentration of chemical and pharmaceutical industrial research laboratories in the United States.