Institutes and Collaborations
Our faculty and students are an integral part of interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers across our campus, nation, and world. We are partnering with scientists in industry, national labs, and other universities to tackle societal problems together — below are some examples of our community's collaborative research efforts and world-class institutes. More information about our campus research initiatives and facilities can be found at the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR).
Research Institutes and Centers
The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology is a community of scholars and a physical space to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, inspire bold scientific risk-taking, and nurture new ideas and discoveries. The institute was founded to reduce barriers between traditional science and technology disciplines in order to yield research advances that otherwise would not occur. Our department's faculty members have a strong presence in the Molecular Design and Engineering research theme as well as Computational Molecular Science and Neurotechnology for Memory and Cognition. Our Beckman faculty include Qian Chen (MDE/, Ying Diao (MDE theme leader), Christopher Evans, Nicholas Jackson, Hyunjoon Kong, Deborah Leckband, Charles Schroeder (MDE theme leader), Kenneth Schweizer, Diwakar Shukla, Charles Sing, Antonia Statt, and Xiao Su.
The Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL) unites world-class faculty who uncover fundamental knowledge, innovate new technologies, and enable cancer-free lives. The CCIL is changing the way we take on cancer through interdisciplinary expertise in science and engineering, exceptional facilities, and novel educational experiences. Our CCIL faculty members include Rohit Bhargava, Ying Diao, Brendan Harley, Paul Kenis, Hyunjoon Kong, Deborah Leckband, and Diwakar Shukla.
The Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) is where science meets society—an interdisciplinary institute dedicated to transformative research and technology in life sciences using team-based strategies to tackle grand societal challenges. Chemical and biomolecular engineering faculty are an integral part of several research themes, including Biosystems Design (BSD), Center for Genomic Diagnostics (CGD), Environmental Impact on Reproductive Health (EIRH), Microbiome Metabolic Engineering (MME), Mining Microbial Genomes (MMG), Multi-Cellular Engineered Living Systems (M-CELS), and Regenerative Biology & Tissue Engineering (RBTE). Our IGB faculty members include Brendan Harley (RBTE theme leader/EIRH affiliate), Paul Kenis (RBTE faculty), Hyunjoon Kong (M-CELS theme leader/EIRH and RBTE affiliate), Deborah Leckband (RBTE faculty), Sara Pedron Haba (RBTE affiliate), Christopher Rao (BSD/MME faculty), Charles Schroeder (BSD affiliate), and Huimin Zhao (BSD theme leader/MMG faculty).
The Holonyak Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory (HMNTL) is one of the country’s largest and most sophisticated university facilities for conducting photonics, microelectronics, biotechnology, and nanotechnology research. HMNTL’s 15 class 100 and 1000 cleanrooms, 46 general purpose labs, and 2,500 square foot biosafety level-2 bionanotechnology complex contain all the tools researchers need to conduct their work. Our faculty affiliated with HMNTL include Brendan Harley, Paul Kenis, Hyunjoon Kong, Mary Kraft, and Deborah Leckband.
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) is a hub of trans-disciplinary research and digital scholarship. NCSA was the home of Blue Waters—one of the fastest supercomputers in the world—that ended its role as the NFS track 1 supercomputer after 6.75 years of production. At its launch, Delta will be the most performant GPU computing resource in NSF’s portfolio, making it a prime destination for advanced scientific research. Several chemical and biomolecular engineering faculty members rely on the resources and community that NCSA provides to aid computational research.
Research Projects and Collaborations
The Bioindustrial Manufacturing and Design Ecosystem (BioMADE) aims to advance sustainable and reliable bioindustrial manufacturing technologies. BioMADE is a collaborative effort by private and public entities who are supported by an $87 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense and more than $187 million in non-federal cost-share. BioMADE is led by chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Huimin Zhao and the collaboration also includes professor Christopher Rao.
The Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) develops efficient ways to grow bioenergy crops, transform biomass into valuable chemicals, and market the resulting biofuels and bioproducts. Led by the University of Illinois, CABBI is comprised of 20 institutions with more than 200 scientists and engineers. This effort is supported by a $125 million grant from the Department of Energy. Chemical and biomolecular engineering faculty working on the conversion research theme include David Flaherty, Christopher Rao (deputy theme leader), and Huimin Zhao (theme leader).
The Dow University Partnership Initiative investigates catalysis and reaction engineering, synthesis of electronic materials, and new methods to produce soft materials. David Flaherty is leading a project to develop catalysts and processes to selectively convert biomass-derived chemicals into monomers for functional materials with improved properties.
The Energy & Biosciences Institute (EBI) is a diverse portfolio of alternative energy inquiry that aims to help us achieve a clean energy future. The EBI is a collaboration between the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory with $250 million in support from BP, Shell, and other sponsors. The EBI team includes chemical and biomolecular engineering professors David Flaherty and Christopher Rao, who is the deputy director of the EBI.
The International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I²CNER) contributes to the advancement of low-carbon emission and cost-effective energy systems and improvement of energy efficiency. The array of technologies that I²CNER’s research aims to enable includes solid oxide fuel cells, polymer membrane-based fuel cells, biomimetic and other novel catalyst concepts, and production, storage, and utilization of hydrogen as a fuel. Our research also explores the underlying science of COâ‚‚ capture and storage or the conversion of COâ‚‚ to a useful product. Central to I²CNER’s mission is the establishment of an international academic environment that fosters innovation through collaboration and interdisciplinary research (fusion). The international team includes chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Paul Kenis.
The Molecular Maker Lab Institute (MMLI) works toward Artificial Intelligence-enabled synthesis planning, catalyst development, molecule manufacturing, and molecule discovery. The MMLI is supported by a five-year, $20 million grant to establish this NSF Artificial Intelligence Institute. The institute will focus on the development of new AI-enabled tools, such as AlphaSynthesis, to accelerate automated chemical synthesis and advance the discovery and manufacture of novel materials and bioactive compounds. Led by Huimin Zhao, the MMLI team also includes chemical and biomolecular engineering professors Ying Diao, Charles Schroeder, and Diwakar Shukla.