Professor and Department Chair, Chemical Engineering
Art Zafiropoulo Chair in Engineering
Affiliated Faculty, Bioengineering
What is the current size of the Chemical Engineering department in terms of graduate students (PhD and Masters) and Faculty? Proportion of growth of the department in the recent years.
Our program currently 70 PhD candidates, and 80 MS students. About half of our MS students are also completing a thesis. We have 32 faculty members. Our MS and PhD programs have grown 5X over the past 6 years, which has resulted in a wider range of research experiences our graduate students have.
According to you, what are the most exciting opportunities in terms of (1) research and (2) career advancement at Northeastern University?
We have numerous strengths in Chemical Engineering at Northeastern. In particular, due to our location in one of the hottest biotech areas in the world, our faculty have expertise in tissue engineering, medical devices, biomaterials, biochips, bacteria, stem cells, neural systems, drug delivery, and much much more. We also have expertise in alternative energy from magnetic to electronic materials to energy storage. Many of our faculty use nanotechnology to develop new materials for bio, electronic, and other areas. We also have expertise in modeling numerous chemical processes. Safety is a critical issue in any chemical process, and we have expertise in that area as well. Since we are educators, we also have expertise in hands-on learning to maximize the educational experience. We have added 15 faculty over 6 years, constantly broadening our expertise to many of the most exciting research areas in chemical engineering. Due to our co-op program at the graduate level, many of our students begin their industry careers when still a student. Some of our students even complete a co-op for their faculty advisor’s start-up company.
What is the best thing about being at Northeastern University? Best thing about Boston?
Definitely collaborations. Not only within Chemical Engineering but across campus, we have numerous collaborations with faculty in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, all other Engineering fields, and so much more. Even thinking outside of Northeastern, we are leading collaborations with all area Universities. In fact, our students have been initiating new conferences and groups which are bringing researchers from all over Boston together at Northeastern to solve some of our greatest chemical engineering challenges.
What does the future of Chemical Engineering department look like to you?
Although we have grown so much over the past 6 years, we are still looking for more growth to continue to innovate in chemical engineering education and research. We are currently developing our curriculum to be more flexible and to take advantage of the fact that students learn in many different ways, not always in the classroom. We call is Learning 2025. In terms of research, we are looking very closely at sensors that can be used in the body to predict the onset of a heart attack before it happens or to determine a cell mutation into a cancer cell before a tumor grows, as well as to monitor various chemical processes.
Any advice to the incoming batch of PhD and master’s students?
My advice to new PhD and MS students is to take advantage of all of the wonderful programs we have to offer. For example, our graduate students can do co-op in hospitals, industry, government labs, and so much more. Our graduate students can learn about entrepreneurship through the Sherman Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship Education, RISE, the Husky Challenge, and more. We provide leadership opportunities to our graduate students that other Universities do not, for example, graduate students can run conferences, start new organizations, create new courses, and begin to be leaders in their field.