About Our Students

Students in ENIAC computer labStudents who choose Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering come to Penn eager to tackle real-world problems. They relish the challenges posed by math, chemistry, physics, and the biological sciences.

A major in chemical and biomolecular engineering opens a wide range of opportunities. The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering program teaches them to think across length scales that span from the molecular to the macroscopic. It enables them to move from studying chemical reactions at the nanoscale to designing industrial plants. Our graduates may move on to discover a unique molecular reaction in a cell, or they may develop a method to deliver a drug to that cell. Both our undergraduate and graduate students are uniquely positioned to influence the worlds of business, medicine, industry, and the environment and to advance to the highest levels of research and academia.

Undergraduate Student Spotlight

Cesar Ruiz de CastillaUndergraduate Spotlight

Cesar Ruiz de Castilla
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Class of 2022

Hometown: Annapolis, MD

Research Interest: Advanced Materials and Technology, Medicinal Research

What motivates your interest in Engineering?
It’s really the final step in what I consider to be a remarkably interesting and important process. Science is the way we understand the universe, math is the language we use to do so, and then engineering is the way to apply that knowledge to real-world situations. It has tremendous potential.

What made you choose CBE as a major?
I’ve always had a passion for the combination of technology and the pharmaceutical industry, especially with the promise of technology! CBE seemed like the perfect major to pursue that.

Why did you choose Penn Engineering?
The culture in the campus is a very accepting and uplifting one, and Penn Engineering is well known for innovations in a variety of different fields, including computing and biomedicine.

What is your favorite thing to do?
Mountain biking.  One of my best experiences was at Spiro, but what I want to try eventually is “The Whole Enchilada” at Moab.

Learn more about the BSE in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Graduate Student Spotlight

Ph.D. Spotlight

Kevin Juan
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Class of 2024

Hometown: Pennington, New Jersey

Where did you receive your undergraduate degree?

I received my undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University.

Who is your current advising professor?

My current advising professor is Dr. Amish Patel.

What made you interested in chemical engineering?

I became interested in chemical engineering because I enjoyed chemistry and math during high school and wanted a way to use my knowledge of both to solve problems at the microscopic and macroscopic levels. I especially wanted to use my skills to solve problems that would greatly influence society in a positive way.

What is your specific field of interest/research?

My research interest is in computational science. Specifically, I am interested in using molecular simulation and machine learning to study proteins to help develop novel materials.

Why did you choose CBE at Penn?

I chose CBE at Penn because there is a large cohort of faculty working in various sub-fields of computational science, which presented me with many options to explore my research interests. The students and faculty at Penn were also very welcoming when I visited and made it extremely easy to find people I would get along with and had similar interests as me.

What are your future plans and how do you plan to use your Ph.D.?

Right now, I think I am interested in applying my knowledge to industrial research involving, computational science. I think one of the great benefits of doing computational research is that it will give me the tools to explore exciting, new areas in technology that a standard chemical engineering education prepares for.

What do you enjoy in your spare time?

In my spare time, I enjoy working out, hanging out with friends and family, spending time with my dogs, cat, and exploring restaurants and spirit options around Philadelphia. I’ve also played ice hockey since the age of seven and currently play for Penn’s Men’s Club Hockey Team.

Tell us something interesting or unusual that readers may like to know about you.

I played ice hockey on the same rink where the “Miracle on Ice” occurred in 1980 when the US beat the Soviet Union.

 

 

Ph.D. Spotlight

Kaushik Shankar
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Class of 2023

Hometown: Chennai, a city in the southernmost State of Tamil Nadu, India

Where did you receive your undergraduate degree?

I received my undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.

Who is your current advising professor?

I am co-advised by Drs. Scott Diamond and Talid Sinno.

What made you interested in chemical engineering?

I was amazed by the widespread applicability of chemical engineering fundamentals. It equips one with the skillset to address solutions to a variety of problems, be it in human health, environment, or energy, among several others.

What is your specific field of interest/research?

My research is in the area of blood systems biology. More specifically, I am working toward developing a multiscale mathematical model to simulate platelet aggregation and deposition underflow. This would be useful in studying patient-specific blood function and thrombotic risk.

Why did you choose CBE at Penn?

I was greatly impressed by the CBE faculty at Penn, as well as their research program, which is highly interdisciplinary. Moreover, I wanted to work on something that would impact human health in some way, which made Penn an easy choice for me.

What are your future plans and how do you plan to use your Ph.D.?

I do not have a definite answer to this question. At the moment, I am leaning toward a career in academia, as I believe it would constantly challenge and enhance both my intellectual and creative abilities.

What do you enjoy in your spare time?

I enjoy watching sports in general, especially cricket and tennis. I also like watching movies and TV, and reading novels, especially fiction.

Tell us something interesting or unusual that readers may like to know about you.

I never originally envisioned myself majoring in engineering. I wanted to pursue commerce and economics in high school but ended up taking science and math, primarily due to peer pressure. I found the going quite tough and was regretful until I started appreciating its ingenuity, and it has been a fascinating journey since.

 

 

Ph.D. Spotlight

Anastasia Neuman
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Class of 2024

Hometown:  Abingdon, Maryland

Where did you receive your undergraduate degree?

I received my undergraduate degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering from MIT.

Who is your current advising professor?

I am co-advised by Drs. Daeyeon Lee and Rob Riggleman.

What made you interested in chemical engineering?

I became interested while working at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Chemical Defense in high school, studying bioscavengers for nerve agents.

What is your specific field of interest/research?

My research is in thermodynamics and transport phenomena in polymer nanocomposites under extreme nanoconfinement.

Why did you choose CBE at Penn?

I chose CBE at Penn because the faculty does interesting work, they are very friendly and supportive, and the location is great!

What are your future plans and how do you plan to use your Ph.D.?

My goal is to go into academia.

What do you enjoy in your spare time?

I love field hockey (I play for the club team at Penn and in local adult leagues), cooking, traveling (when I can find cheap flights), and exploring local beers gardens!

Tell us something interesting or unusual that readers may like to know about you.

I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie and I have sky-dived and bungee jumped into the Nile.

 

 

Ph.D. Spotlight

Luke R. Johnson
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Class of 2021

Hometown: Freeport, The Bahamas

Where did you receive your undergraduate degree?

I obtained my degree in chemical engineering from Youngstown State in Youngstown, OH.

Who is your current advising professor?

I am advised by Dr. Aleksandra Vojvodic.

What made you interested in chemical engineering?

My home island of Grand Bahama is very chemical industry-focused, with pharmaceutical processing plants, oil refineries, chemical engineering consultancies, and plastic producing plants. All of these exposures to practical engineering as well as my strong interest in chemistry as a kid inspired me to become a chemical engineer.

What is your specific field of interest/research?

I work on computational materials design of 2D materials called MXenes, discovered at Drexel. I use first-principle calculations to generate data on MXenes tuned by their physical and chemical properties and use data-driven approaches to predict and understand their catalytic properties.

Why did you choose CBE at Penn?

Besides the program here being very strong, my visit to Penn was a crucial factor in deciding to come here. I really liked the graduate students and could tell that they got along really well. Furthermore, the professors are very cordial amongst themselves and with other graduate students, showing a great department culture! Also, I felt that living in an affordable city as a graduate student would make things very convenient and easily accessible!

What are your future plans and how do you plan to use your Ph.D.?

I’d like to use my research skills and programming knowledge paired with my consulting experience to look for data-related roles in industry. The program here has trained me to tackle novel scientific problems and professional clubs at Penn help to hone the business side of things.

What do you enjoy in your spare time?

In the past, I mainly involved myself with student groups in the evenings. I’ve led the Graduate Student Engineering Group at Penn and was involved as a consulting project manager for Penn Biotech Group. Outside of being involved, I work out, cook Caribbean dishes, try new restaurants, and visit local parks.

Tell us something interesting or unusual that readers may like to know about you.

I’m a Dance Dance Revolution amateur, I worked at a shark research lab as an undergrad, my favorite dish is fried conch and fries, I love phở, and I’d like to visit D.C. & Boston in the future!