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About Our Students

Students who choose Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering come to Penn eager to tackle real-world problems. They relish the challenges posed by math, chemistry, physics, and the biological sciences.

A major in chemical and biomolecular engineering opens a wide range of opportunities. The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering program teaches them to think across length scales that span from the molecular to the macroscopic. It enables them to move from studying chemical reactions at the nanoscale to designing industrial plants. Our graduates may move on to discover a unique molecular reaction in a cell, or they may develop a method to deliver a drug to that cell. Both our undergraduate and graduate students are uniquely positioned to influence the worlds of business, medicine, industry, and the environment and to advance to the highest levels of research and academia.

Undergraduate Spotlight

Andrew Parsons, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Class of 2016
CBE junior Andrew Parsons didn’t spend his summer in a typical internship with a local industry. Instead, he managed to combine his chemical engineering studies with one of his extracurricular interests: the Russian language. Parsons interned with the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for the Environmental, Science, Technology, and Health Division.

"Russian was always a mysterious, beautiful language to me," Parsons says. Once he learned the Cyrillic alphabet in high school, he moved on to basic grammar and eventually mastered enough to read Russian-language news articles.

Last year, Parsons applied to the State Department in hopes of finding an opportunity that aligned his educational and personal pursuits and was offered the internship with the ESTH section in Moscow. His projects included following developments in Russia’s pharmaceutical industry and infectious disease treatments under import substitution, meeting with contacts and diplomats from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and helping to increase U.S.-Russian nuclear cooperation.

Every day was “new, exciting. I am very grateful I got the chance to be part of such a great team,” he says.

He gets the same sense of novelty from his studies of chemical engineering, which he likens to solving puzzles because it involves fitting pieces together, testing new approaches, and pulling from interdisciplinary fields. “It keeps me on my feet,” Parsons says.

Learn more about the BSE in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Graduate Spotlight

Ankur Pariyani, Ph.D. Candidate
Ankur hails from Kota, Rajasthan - the desert state of India.  He did his undergraduate study in chemical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Guwahati, where he learned about "the exciting dimensions of chemical engineering and particularly, how we can innovate and tackle the most challenging problems using engineering principles."

At Penn, Ankur has developed new dynamic risk analysis techniques to identify "near-misses" in chemical plants and to predict their shutdowns and accidents - in time to take actions to prevent them.  His work uses Bayesian analysis of large plant databases to provide "leading indicators" for operating personnel.  He has experimented with a large fluidized catalytic cracking unit, hydrogen and air separation processes.  "With an increasing uncertainty in the occurrence of low-probability, high-severity events, particularly chemical accidents, risk management using engineering principles is a proactive approach to minimize risks and overcome the myopia associated with such events," he remarks.  His favorite aspect of Penn Engineering is that "it offers vast opportunities to do inter-disciplinary and collaborative research with other schools like Wharton, Medicine, etc., and with several chemical and pharmaceutical companies in the proximity."  He also notes that "there is a stimulating research environment at Penn that helps you nurture your ideas and develop a broad and long-term vision to whatever you want to do." Learn more about the Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering.