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Chemical & Biological Engineering About

Welcome to the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UW-Madison.

Our department has a long tradition of excellence in research and teaching. The consistently strong emphasis on fundamentals provides our students with the solid background needed to succeed in their careers in both academic and industrial environments. As a result, many of our graduates are leaders in chemical engineering throughout the world. Undergraduate and graduate students at Wisconsin experience an environment that is characterized by a unique diversity of opportunities, ranging from cutting-edge highly impactful world-class research, to service and outreach activities and to international educational programs, both within the department and across campus—UW-Madison as a whole ranks consistently as one of the world’s leading universities and for decades our department has maintained the highest rankings in both undergraduate and graduate programs. We hope you find this web site interesting and informative. To learn more, contact us at (608) 262-1092 or

Brian Pfleger
Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, Karen and William Monfre Professor, and R. Byron Bird Department Chair

Collaboration within the Department

To illustrate the extent to which collaboration is encouraged in the department, the image below highlights a graph of ongoing research collaborations between core and affiliate faculty.

Diagram with showing connections between various research areas

Several faculty members are also affiliated with other departments and programs across campus, including biomedical engineering, the Biophysics Program, chemistry, engineering physics, materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering, the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program, neurological surgery, the Wisconsin Energy Institute, and the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, which promotes interdisciplinary research collaborations.


Entrepreneurship is another key aspect of CBE research activities, supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Fund and campus resources such as Discovery to Product, the WARF Accelerator program, the Morgridge Entrepreneurial Bootcamp, and gBETA Madison. CBE faculty and students have also launched successful start-up companies as detailed below.

Research Areas and Training Programs

CBE researchers lead or are members of numerous research centers to maximize opportunities for collaborative breakthroughs. Recent centers led by CBE faculty include the Center for the Chemical Upcycling of Waste Plastics and the Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies. Other major research centers that collaborate with or include CBE faculty are the Center for Dairy Research, Forest Products Laboratory, Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, UW Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, UW Carbone Cancer Center, Wisconsin Energy Institute, and the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

CBE graduate students also benefit from numerous training programs that unite students from a range of scientific backgrounds. These programs promote interdisciplinary training in the biological aspects of biotechnology and provide valuable experience through an industrial internship. Current training programs include:

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering Climate and Diversity Statement

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering recognizes the immense role that diversity and inclusion play in:

The department is committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive, and collegial environment through strategies including:

Named Lectures

The department honors faculty and alumni through these educational lecture programs.

Founders’ Lectureship

Hougen Lectureship

Summer lab

Two summer lab sessions take place at the UW-Madison campus, with a few summer labs taking place internationally. One cohort travels to the Universidad de Oviedo in Asturias province in northern Spain, another to Hangzhou, China, and a final group takes the course at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in Hong Kong, China.
summer lab montage

Summer lab is a long-standing tradition in the department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. We have a photo archive dating back to 1948.