Future of Chemical Engineering: Integrating Biology into the Undergraduate ChE Curriculum


  • Patricia Mosto Rowan University
  • Mariano Savelski Rowan University
  • Stephanie H. Farrell Rowan University
  • Gregory B. Hecht Rowan University


Integrating biology in the chemical engineering curriculum seems to be the future for chemical engineering programs nation and worldwide. Rowan University’s efforts to address this need include a unique chemical engineering curriculum with an intensive biology component integrated throughout from freshman to senior years. Freshman and Sophomore Engineering Clinics introduce students to biochemical processes using hands-on experiments. A novel sophomore course taught by Biology faculty introduces biological topics relevant to engineering. Junior and Senior Engineering Clinics provide an opportunity for Engineering and Biology students to work together on bio-oriented engineering research and design projects supervised jointly by Biology and Engineering faculty. Specialized, upper-level chemical engineering elective courses provide an opportunity to further explore bio-related engineering topics. A new concentration in bioengineering allows students to graduate with a cadre of bio-related courses. This collaborative approach to integrating biology in the chemical engineering curriculum helps prepare students for careers in food, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. This paper describes the implementation, impact and benefits of this collaborative approach to the chemical engineering curriculum.

Author Biographies

Patricia Mosto, Rowan University

Patricia Mosto has extensive environmental science experience. She has been actively involved with field and laboratory projects related to water quality and pollution issues for the last 30 years. She has worked with the Departments of Water and Power and Sanitation in Los Angeles for 1 o years. In her 14 years at Rowan, she has supervised more than 50 independent undergraduate projects, taking many students to national and international conferences. She is author of over 100 publications.

Mariano Savelski, Rowan University

Mariano Savelski has seven years of industrial experience in design and manufacturing. He has received a Lind back Foundation Award to continue his research in the area of industrial wastewater minimization, as well as a U.S. EPA Award to investigate zero water discharge cycles in manufacturing and chemical plants. He has been recognized as a rising star in chemical engineering and participated as a panelist in the 2001 Galaxy of Stars at the ASEE meeting in Albuquerque. He has been actively involved in undergraduate research through Rowan Engineering's clinic.

Stephanie H. Farrell, Rowan University

Stephanie H. Farrell received her B. S. in 1986 from the University of Pennsylvania, her M.S. in 1992 from Stevens Institute of Technology, and her Ph.D. in 1996 from NJIT. Prior to joining Rowan in 1998, she was a faculty member at Louisiana Tech University. Her research expertise is in the field of drug delivery and controlled release, and she is currently focusing efforts on developing laboratory experiments related to membrane separations, biochemical engineering, and biomedical systems for students.

Gregory B. Hecht, Rowan University

Gregory B. Hecht has extensive research experience in prokaryotic genetics and molecular biology. With Dr. Mosto, he has developed a new course for chemical engineering students, Biological Systems and Applications. He is the creator and coordinator of the Rowan University Student Research Symposium, an annual forum at which Rowan students from all of the SMET disciplines present the results of their independent research.