PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering
Our department's research environment is vibrant and growing, and holds more promise with the recently-formed PhD program in chemical and biological engineering. This program is different from the majority of chemical and biological/biomolecular engineering (i.e., CBE) departments across the country. Generally, CBE departments require PhD students to take the core chemical engineering graduate courses for their degree, and provide elective courses in biology, microbiology, biotechnology, etc., to supplement the training of students focusing on biological-related dissertations. In our program, students are required to take both chemical engineering and biology/biological engineering graduate courses to fulfill their degree requirement. At a minimum, students will take two courses from the following biological engineering topics: biochemical engineering, industrial microbiology and biotechnology, metabolic engineering, biocatalysis, bioseparations, and molecular biology. This structure ensures that graduates have the foundation and skill set to be proficient as both a chemical and biological engineers.
Founded in concert with our new PhD program was the Center for Bioprocessing Research and Development (CBRD), a 2010 Research Center of the State of South Dakota. CBRD's focus is on research that leads to new technologies for processing plant-derived lignocellulose materials into biomaterials such as ethanol and key building-block chemicals. In 2008, the department was awarded status as the lead site for a National Science Foundation Industrial/University Cooperative Research Center (NSF I/UCRC), formally titled the Center for BioEnergy Research and Development (CBERD). Furthermore, the biological-research component of our department has received a significant boost from another NSF/DOE funded center – the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) – in Lead, South Dakota, approximately 50 miles from campus. In the area of polymers and materials, department researchers take advantage of the school’s Composite and Polymer Engineering Laboratory (CAPE), a 9,500-plus-square-foot facility for advanced research and development of polymer and composite processing, prototyping, and tooling. Current research activity covers a range of areas, including bioenergy, biofuels, polymers/nanocomposites, combustion synthesis of ceramic and intermetallic powders, biochemical engineering and bioseparations, bioremediation and extremophiles, nano-structured materials, catalysis and reaction engineering, and molecular modeling. Current funding in the department exceeds $1M per year, with an average level of support of more than $200K/faculty.
For more information on the PhD degree, please see the catalog.
For questions regarding the SDSM&T CBE graduate programs, please contact the graduate program coordinator:
Dr. Todd Menkhaus
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
501 East Saint Joseph Street
Rapid City, South Dakota 57701