Biological & Chemical Engineering Program Area

Within their engineering sciences degree, students may choose a concentration in biological and chemical engineering (BCE). The BCE Program Area provides structure and guidance for this concentration in fields such as bio-inspired systems, circuits, and processes as well as biotherapies and biofuels, and encourages paths with human-centered impact.

BCE Program Area Lead: Margie Ackerman

The Student Experience

We are committed to offering individualized mentoring of our student's professional development toward becoming enabled, independent professionals, and to maximizing the quality our student's experience through scholarship, coursework, and community.

A professor and student work together in the cellulosic biofuels lab.

Students are expected to propose a plan of study that supports their interests, potentially including distinctive intellectual paths unconstrained by disciplinary boundaries and enriched by interdisciplinary synergies.

Most graduate study is advanced through the research thesis and disseminated through contributions to the peer-reviewed literature, presentations at professional meetings, and in some cases patents and other forms.

We seek to foster stimulating and accessible intellectual communities among students and faculty interested in BCE within Thayer, across Dartmouth, and among researchers and practitioners from around the US and the world.

Biological & Chemical Engineering Research

BCE research at Dartmouth has been chosen strategically to address key trends and challenges—such as applying deep learning to biological problems with a focus on sustainability, accessibility, and implementation—and is supported by leading faculty in their fields.

Impact and Scale

Our collective research activities can be mapped onto a landscape defined by both impact (health and energy), and scale (molecular, cellular, and systems). These activities include:

Lab Spotlight

Two students pose in the Ackerman Lab.

New Insights into How Antibodies Function Against HSV

The study's authors, including students in the Ackerman Lab, are hopeful their research may lead to new treatments for neonatal herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections.

Learn more


Individualized plans of study are developed by students with their faculty mentors pursuant to gaining both a broad understanding of science and engineering relevant to BCE, and also depth in one or more technical area within the student's focus area. Technical depth is addressed through courses often relevant to the research areas listed above.

To foster a broad understanding, students select one course each from groups based on three different scales of engineering:

  1. Systems
  2. Cellular
  3. Molecular

Graduate Degrees

Students interested in obtaining a PhD, MS, or MEng focused on BCE are encouraged to contact faculty lead Margie Ackerman or other individual faculty in their areas of interest. Applicants are also invited to visit campus and meet with engineering students and faculty.

Undergraduate Degrees

Students interested in the AB/BE, or Partner School Dual-Degree program with a focus on BCE are encouraged to contact Applicants are also invited to visit campus and meet with engineering students and faculty.