Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Systems and Synthetic Biology
University of Wisconsin-Madison
In the 20th century, chemical engineers developed the methods and the underlying principles to convert fossil fuels into the array of chemical products that enable our current lifestyle. Unfortunately, this system is not sustainable and societal pressures to change it are increasing. The next generation of chemical engineers will develop new methods to make products from renewable resources such as biomass or harness solar energy to power the conversion of carbon dioxide to chemicals. A closed carbon cycle will require efficient chemical and/or biological routes to generate products that can be cleanly combusted to yield energy and carbon dioxide. My long term vision of the chemical industry involves the use of modern biotechnology, and specifically synthetic biology, to engineer systems where chemicals are produced sustainably from sunlight and carbon dioxide.