Chemical and Biological Engineering

Chemical and Biological Engineering

This session was hosted on November 19, 2020 at 10am. Information about graduate programs at Northwestern can be found below. Quantitative biology touches the research programs of faculty across the university, from applied math to math, developmental biology to biomedical sciences, epidemiology to synthetic biology, neuroscience to physics. This session is meant for undergraduates. We will present how to navigate Northwestern’s graduate school application, introduce graduate programs with faculty who utilize quantitative biology, and meet the graduate program directors. 

 

Participating Program Directors:

  • Antonio Auffinger  (Mathematics)

  • Gregory Beitel (Masters in Quantitative and Systems Biology)

  • Pamela Carpentier (Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences)

  • David Chopp (Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics)

  • Deborah Klos Dehring (Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Program)

Chemical and Biological Engineering

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering has two primary goals: to train students to be leaders in research and development in industry or government, and to be faculty members at colleges and universities.

We strive to develop innovative strategies and techniques in the fields of chemical and biological engineering. Relative to many peer institutions, Northwestern places a great deal of emphasis on interdisciplinary and cross-school research interactions. Of the research-active faculty in our department, more than half have formal associations with other departments through full, joint, or courtesy appointments, and half of these advise graduate students from other departments.

Quantitative Biology Faculty

Luis Amaral, Mike Jewett, Josh Leonard, Julius Lucks,
Danielle Tullman-Ercek, Keith Tyo

Featured Faculty Research Program:  Professor

Luis Amaral

Application due date

December 15, 2020

Professor Amaral conducts and directs research that provides insight into the emergence, evolution, and stability of complex social and biological systems. His research aims to address some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity, including the mitigation of errors in healthcare settings, the characterization of the conditions fostering innovation and creativity, or the growth limits imposed by sustainability. Professor Amaral has published over 170 scientific peer-reviewed papers in leading scientific journals. Those papers have been cited in excess of 24 thousand times. His research has been featured in numerous media sources, both in the US and abroad.

Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences

The Walter S. and Lucienne Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences offers a comprehensive, interdisciplinary PhD program that trains students in biomedical sciences while giving them the flexibility to pursue a variety of research interests, dual degrees.

The program has approximately 175 pre-doctoral students who share courses and labs with members of other life science programs at Northwestern. Typically, graduates go on to postdoctoral work to continue their training in preparation for careers in research at universities or in industry. However, several students choose less traditional career paths, including business, teaching, law, medicine, consulting and scientific writing.

Quantitative Biology Faculty

Mazhar Adli, Rosemary Braun, Lee Cooper, Vladimir Gelfand, Zhe Ji, Jennie Lin, Yuan Luo, Elizabeth McNally, Joshua Meeks, Marc Mendillo, Alexander Misharin, Clara Peek, Arthur Prindle, Ali Shilatifard, Deborah Winter, Rui Yi, Jindan Yu, Feng Yue, Wei Zhang

Featured Faculty Research Program:  Professor

Arthur Prindle

Application due date

December 1, 2020

We are interested in understanding how molecular and cellular interactions give rise to collective behaviors in microbial communities. We use synthetic biology, quantitative microscopy, and microfluidics to directly investigate the molecular mechanisms behind how cells communicate across broad spatial and temporal scales. Our goal is to apply these principles to develop new synthetic biology approaches to biomedical problems through microbiome engineering.

Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics

The Department of Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics offers two graduate programs in engineering sciences and applied mathematics: a master of science program and a doctoral program. Qualified students with backgrounds in engineering, mathematics, or science are eligible for admission to either program.

Not all of our incoming graduate students have a bachelor of science in math. Many have degrees in engineering or science. The first-year courses are designed in such a way that a common applied math background is formed for all the students, regardless of their undergraduate background.

Quantitative Biology Faculty

Daniel Abrams, Rosemary Braun, William Kath, Erik Luijten, Madhav Mani, Niall Mangan, Hermann Riecke

Featured Faculty Research Program:  Professor

Madhav Mani

Application due date

December 31, 2020

The group is comprised of problem-solvers that come from diverse backgrounds, including mathematicians, physicists, engineers, and biologists. The problems we address are those revealed by cutting-edge imaging and sequencing data in biology, and a recognition of inappropriate descriptions/parametrizations/representations of phenomena in living systems. While traditional modeling approaches are still pursued when necessary, we often take a statistical approach to modeling. Modeling is always done in close collaboration with rigorous statistical analysis of experiments done performed in collaborating biology labs, often by ourselves. The goal is to synthesize diverse observations into an explanatory and predictive framework, with the eventual goal to guide and inspire new experiments in the lab. The over-arching theme in the group is to take a statistical (physics) approach to open questions in biology in close collaboration with experimental labs.

Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Graduate Program

IBiS provides the resources and training environment necessary to promote the development of Ph.D. students into independent, creative research scientists and teachers. The program includes approximately 60 training faculty from diverse science and engineering departments on Northwestern's main campus, who are linked by common interests in addressing fundamental questions in the biological and biomedical sciences.

Quantitative Biology Faculty

Luis Amaral, Erik Andersen, Xiaomin Bao, Greg Beitel, Shelby Blythe, Rosemary Braun, Jason Brickner, Richard Carthew, Yuan He, Curt Horvath, Michael Jewett, Neil Kelleher, Carole LaBonne, Laura Lackner, Keara Lane, Joshua Leonard, Madhav Mani, Niall Mangan, John Marko, Kelly Mayo, Rick Morimoto, Tom O'Halloran, Chris Petersen, Daniell Tullman-Ercek, Keith Tyo, Ishwar Radhakrishnan, Reza Vafabakhsh, Alec Wang

Featured Faculty Research Program:  Professor

Carole LaBonne

Application due date

December 15, 2020

The LaBonne lab uses biochemical and computational approaches to understand the genetic and epigenetic control of the stem cell state, and the relationship of “stemness” to the capacity for invasive cell behavior. We use in vivo approaches in developing vertebrate embryos, and ex vivo analyses, to elucidate the contributions of retained cellular potential to the evolution of vertebrate animal such as humans.

Masters in Quantitative and Systems Biology

The mission of the one-year QSB program is to train students in quantitative and systems biology approaches and techniques that will enable them to succeed in top Ph.D. and M.D. programs or directly enter research careers in industry or academia.

Quantitative Biology Faculty

Luis Amaral, Erik Andersen, Xiaomin Bao, Greg Beitel, Jason Brickner, Richard Carthew, Yuan He, Curt Horvath, Neil Kelleher, Carole LaBonne, Laura Lackner, Madhav Mani, John Marko, Kelly Mayo, Rick Morimoto, Tom O'Halloran, Chris Petersen, Ishwar Radhakrishnan, Reza Vafabakhsh, Alec Wang

Featured Faculty Research Program:  Professor

Laura Lackner

Application due date

December 1, 2020

In the Lackner Lab, we study how mitochondria are positioned in cells. Central to mitochondrial positioning are molecular tethers, which function to anchor mitochondria to specific cellular sites. While tethering of mitochondria is observed in cells from yeast to neurons, very little is known about this positioning mechanism. Using multidisciplinary biochemical, cytological, and genetic approaches, we are working to elucidate the molecular mechanism, regulation, and physiological significance of mitochondrial tethering.

Mathematics

Our program aims to develop graduate students into productive research mathematicians. We offer the benefits of an internationally-renowned faculty together with the close-knit collegiality of a small department. Our extremely low student-faculty ratio, small class size, and close interactions among students and faculty allow us to give you individualized, expert attention that would be hard to find at a larger school.

Our department has research strength in many areas of mathematics, including (but not limited to!) algebra, algebraic topology, differential equations, probability, dynamical systems and ergodic theory, homotopy theory, mathematical physics, number theory and representation theory. Students with a particular interest in one of these fields, or with a general interest in mathematics, are likely to have their intellectual needs satisfied by our program. Students with a very specific mathematical interest not mentioned above should closely review the research interests of our faculty.

Quantitative Biology Faculty

Antonio Auffinger

Featured Faculty Research Program:  Professor

Antonio Auffinger

Application due date

December 15, 2020

Professor Auffinger's research is on probability theory (sub-additive processes, spin glasses, gaussian fields and random matrices) and its connections with other domains of mathematics (partial differential equations, dynamical systems), physics (statistical mechanics of disordered media), and theoretical biology (ecology). His main interest is in the complexity of such disordered systems and the universal aspects of their long time behavior.

Northwestern University Integrated Neuroscience

NUIN is one of 3 Life Science PhD programs at Northwestern, and the appropriate program for anyone wishing to obtain a PhD in the field of neuroscience. The Driskill Graduate Program in Life Science on the Chicago campus, and the Interdepartmental Biological Sciences Program (IBiS) on the Evanston campus, are appropriate for students interested in life science fields other than neuroscience. Note that most of the life science departments at Northwestern do not offer their own PhD programs.

The NUIN program currently has approximately 140 PhD students and 140 faculty distributed among over 20 departments across the Chicago and Evanston campuses. Approximately two-thirds of students do their thesis work in Chicago labs; approximately one-third in Evanston labs.

Quantitative Biology Faculty

Daniel Abrams, Ravi Allada, Erik Andersen, Yevgenia Kozorovitskiy

Featured Faculty Research Program:  Professor

Ravi Allada

Application due date

December 1, 2020

We are interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms and their links to various clinical disorders, such as insomnia, depression and even cancer(1-4). The origins of our molecular understanding of human circadian rhythms can be traced to genetic studies in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Since the cloning of the first clock gene period in Drosophila in the1980s, the cloning of new fly rhythm genes has led to the discovery of their mammalian counterparts, reflecting their remarkable evolutionary conservation. Indeed, a mutation in a human homolog of Drosophila period is responsible for an inherited sleep disorder, advanced sleep phase syndrome (ASPS)(5). Across evolutionary boundaries, transcriptional feedback loops form the core of circadian pacemakers. We believe the most efficient strategy to identify new components of human circadian feedback loops is through a molecular genetic approach in Drosophila. The wealth of genetic tools and short generation time (~10 days) facilitate high throughput phenotype-driven screens that will be required to decipher the functional significance of the human genome. Current efforts in our laboratory are focused on cloning a novel circadian rhythm mutant as well as the identification of molecular and cellular links between central pacemakers and output genes and behaviors.

Physics

The goal of the Northwestern Physics PhD program is to provide opportunity, education, and mentoring to develop each PhD student into a productive scientist. This training has two general phases: education and scientific activity.

The first phase of the PhD is characterized by an emphasis on education. In graduate classes, students learn fundamentals and also develop more specialized knowledge. In fulfilling teaching duties, PhD students learn communication skills and how to effectively teach science. In the early stages of working with a research group, PhD students learn fundamentals of their chosen area.

The second phase of PhD training is characterized by an emphasis on scientific activity. During this phase, students become increasingly effective at working with their research groups to push knowledge forward in their area of study, at communicating their results to a broad audience through publications and oral presentations, and at becoming leaders of scientific thought within their area of expertise.

Quantitative Biology Faculty

Michelle Driscoll, Pulak Dutta, István Kovács, John F. Marko, Adilson E. Motter

Featured Faculty Research Program:  Professor

John Marko

Application due date

December 30, 2020

Professor Marko's research is focused on the question of how DNA is organized and processed inside cells. His group carries out single-DNA stretching experiments to study protein-DNA interactions and chromatin structure, as well as experiments on living cells to directly study whole chromosomes. Prof. Marko's group also uses statistical mechanics to study problems in molecular biophysics.