Associate Professor Justinus Satrio works with a student in a lab.

In the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, exciting opportunities exist for students and faculty at all levels to address some of the Earth's greatest challenges. We consider it our mission as engineers to serve the common good, encompassing humanity and the natural world.



Biological Engineering encompasses traditional biochemical engineering (design of bio-based unit operations) and chemical engineering approaches to biomedical designs, such as protein engineering, systems biology, and cellular engineering. At Villanova, its applications include drug discovery and development, biomaterials and drug delivery, pharmaceutical processes, and biological and environmental systems.

Affiliated Faculty: Dr. Noelle Comolli, Dr. Jacob Elmer, Dr. Zuyi “Jacky” Huang, Dr. William Kelly

Grounded in socially responsible engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering faculty focus their environmental and sustainability research on wastewater and hazardous waste treatment, alternative energies and biomass resources and conversion.

Affiliated Faculty: Dr. Vito Punzi, Dr. Justinus Satrio, Dr. Dorothy Skaf

Research is conducted in the use of nanomaterials as catalysts and adsorbents to engineer improved inorganic materials for energy storage and transformation.

Affiliated Faculty: Dr. Charles Coe, Dr. Rees Rankin, Dr. Michael Smith





NovaCell, the Center for Cellular Engineering, is leading efforts to improve cell and gene therapy products, and the bioprocesses used to make them.





Chemical and Biological Engineering research funding comes from:  

Air Products


National Institutes of Health

National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals

National Science Foundation


Advances in Earthworm Hemoglobin Blood Substitute Research

Advances in Earthworm Hemoglobin Blood Substitute Research

Dr. Jacob Elmer has developed cross-linked derivatives of earthworm hemoglobin (LtEc) that are stable at temperatures up to 40oC for seven days or more. He is now partnering with IO Biosciences, a Philadelphia-area biotechnology company, to express the LtEc genes in Chinese hamster ovary cells instead of extracting it from worms, which will allow for much larger batches and also provide control over the gene sequences.

Dr. Jake Elmer

New State-of-the-Art Instrumentation to Support Professor’s Research

A new liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometer, used to identify and characterize small quantities of chemical species in complex samples, will support the work of Associate Professor Dr. Jacob Elmer. The instrumentation can be used for elucidating host cell response to gene therapy and improving transgene expression by inhibiting or circumventing host cell defenses. In addition, it benefits the development of earthworm hemoglobin as a possible blood substitute.

Dr. Jacky Huang’s

Patent-Awarded Research Reveals Treatment for Deadly Listeriosis Infection

Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Given its resistance to commonly used antibiotics, the infection has a high case-fatality rate. Since the production of new antibiotics has significantly slowed in the last two decades, identifying cocktails of existing antibiotics with synergistic compounds is a top priority for treating this multi-drug-resistant pathogen. Newly patented findings by Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Dr. Zuyi “Jacky” Huang and his Biological and Environmental Systems Engineering Laboratory (BESEL) team holds promise for more easily identifying these life-saving compounds.