Dorothy Skaf, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, works with a student in the lab.

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering is a dynamic community of undergraduate and graduate students and faculty.

Our professors excel in both the classroom and the laboratory, with many possessing decades of experience in traditional chemical engineering industries such as fuels, alternative energy, bulk chemicals and polymers. Other faculty are leading the way in the rapidly growing fields of biotechnology, biomedical engineering, cell therapy, bio-inspired materials, pharmaceuticals and more.

Regardless of your area of interest, at Villanova, you will be taught to creatively solve relevant technical problems with solutions that respond to economic constraints as well as social, ethical, environmental and safety implications.

At a Glance

  • 13 Full-time faculty members
  • 231 Chemical Engineering undergraduates (42% female)
  • 26 Master's students (Chemical)
  • 24 Master's students (Biochemical)
  • 14 PhD students

The size of our department allows for a variety of hands-on research opportunities and the ability for focused faculty mentorship.



The department is associated with the College of Engineering’s research center:

NovaCell, the Center for Cellular Engineering

NovaCell’s mission is to lead efforts to improve cell and gene therapy products, and the bioprocesses used to make them.


Students at all levels are encouraged to pursue research opportunities with Chemical and Biological Engineering faculty in the areas of:

  • Biopharmaceutical processing
  • Biomaterials for drug delivery
  • Cell and gene therapy
  • Computational chemistry models to improve catalyst design
  • Decontamination of wastewater
  • Systems biology approaches to understanding antibiotic resistance
  • Utilizing biomass for energy and bio-sourced materials
  • Zeolite and catalyst design for increased process efficiency

Department Chair
Dr. Noelle Comolli
Associate Professor



Dr. William Kelly stands with two students.

NovaCell Partners with Redbud Labs on Improved Bioreactor for T-Cell Therapy

Redbud Labs has invited Dr. William Kelly, director of NovaCell, Villanova’s Center for Cellular Engineering, to participate in a National Institutes of Health project to improve the bioreactors used to provide controlled delivery of nutrients and biomimetic stimuli in order to influence T-cell growth.


The Search for COVID-19 Inhibitors

The Search for COVID-19 Inhibitors

Associate Professor Dr. Zuyi “Jacky” Huang and doctoral students Tianhua Zhai and Betty Zhang are working to stop the COVID-19virus in its tracks at the cellular level. Using a computational platform they had previously developed, they identified 13 existing Food and Drug Administration-approved drug candidates that inhibit 3CLpro, an enzyme crucial to COVID-19’s replication process. The team is testing its compounds against 3CLpro at Villanova and looking for clinical collaborators to test their COVID-19 inhibitors.


Dr. Scott Jackson

Professor Speaks on Fracking as a Bridging Fuel to Renewable Energy

Visiting Professor Dr. Scott Jackson, an expert in petroleum engineering, addresses President-Elect Joe Biden’s willingness to support fracking. He explains, that this is not a contradictory stance to their aggressive renewable energy policy, but rather, “it is recognition that cheap energy – especially natural gas produced as a result of fracking – can be a bridging fuel needed to get to the end point of renewable energy sooner."