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Department Overview

The Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering (BEE) is diverse with two distinct and highly integrated program areas: Biological Engineering and Environmental Engineering. Although these two program areas share significant commonality in teaching, especially with regard to the core curriculum, there are significant differences in emphasis and course options. These differences result in a flexible program that satisfies the diverse interests of our students. Accordingly, the intellectual breadth of the BEE department is even more strongly reflected by the diversity of the department's research and outreach activities.

Biological Engineering

Biological Engineering integrates engineering practice and quantitative biology, with a focus on food systems, life sciences, human health and the environment.

Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering is aimed at combining engineering and environmental sciences in a coordinated manner so as to include a balance of basic, developmental and applied investigative efforts. Once concerned primarily with the rural environment, the program now addresses a wide range of environmental issues in both the private and public sectors.


Much of the approximately $6 million annual department expenditures are directed at sponsored research. This research includes the development of nanobiomechanical devices, biosensors, a bio-based industry center, food processing, controlled environmental agriculture, preferential flow, sustainable watersheds as well as many other projects and programs. Most BEE-led research is interdisciplinary and includes links to teaching and outreach.

Extension and Outreach

The approach to extension and outreach used in BEE has changed considerably over the past ten years. A program that was coordinated primarily by full time professional faculty funded almost totally through core college funds is now conducted largely by faculty working with full-time Senior Extension Associates in programs that are largely externally funded. The department has major extension/outreach programs such as local roads, dairy systems, water and watershed management, and controlled environmental agriculture.

Our Faculty

BEE is composed of an extraordinarily diverse faculty. Faculty members have Ph.D.s in agricultural engineering, biological engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, environmental engineering, electrical engineering, biotechnology and applied math. While the faculty bring diverse backgrounds and expertise they work in the two interrelated areas of biological and environmental engineering.

Looking to the Future

BEE has demonstrated the ability and courage to make the changes necessary to effectively address the challenges of the 21st century. We will continue to meet the ever-increasing student demand for technologically advanced and relevant programs. We will improve on our broad-based biological engineering program by placing special emphasis on applications to molecular and cellular biology. Advancements are being made in the biological engineering curriculum, with a rollout of the redesigned curriculum scheduled for Fall 2015.