This document has been archived. For current NSF funding opportunities, see
Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Systems
The Division of Bioengineering and
Environmental Systems (BES) supports research that
- expands the knowledge base of bioengineering at scales ranging
from proteins and cells to organ systems, large bioreactors, and biomanufacturing
systems, including mathematical models, devices, and instrumentation systems.
BES is particularly interested in postgenomic engineering, metabolic engineering,
and tissue engineering. BES continues its strong interest in upstream and
downstream processing of proteins and other biochemicals (see the Biochemical
Engineering and Biotechnology Program for more information).
- applies engineering
principles to the models and tools used in understanding living systems,
and to products for human health care. BES
supports the development of prototypes for new and improved devices and
software for persons with disabilities. Emphasis is placed on basic engineering
research that will contribute to better and more efficient health care
delivery and that will aid people with disabilities. Current areas of interest
biomedical photonics and sensing (see the Biomedical Engineering Program
for more information).
- improves our ability to apply engineering principles
to avoid and correct problems that impair the usefulness of land, air,
Current interest areas include environmental remediation, especially with
respect to understanding the fate and transport of surface and groundwater
pollutants; novel processes for waste treatment; industrial ecology; and
technologies for avoiding pollution (see the Environmental Engineering
and Technology Program for more information).
1. Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology
Supports research that
links the expertise of engineering with that of the life sciences to provide
a fundamental basis for economical manufacturing of substances of biological
origin. Engineers and small groups of engineers and scientists are encouraged
to apply for support. Synergy among the various disciplines in these types
of projects is a very important evaluation criterion. Current areas of interest
include the following:
- Postgenomic Engineering—Quantitative methods
for predicting the phenotypic behavior of proteins, pathways, and cells
from genomic data.
- Metabolic Engineering––Methods for understanding
and beneficially altering the chemical pathways of living systems.
- Tissue Engineering––Development of polymeric scaffolding,
imbedding of cells, cell-to-cell communications, tissue biomechanics, and
- Bioprocessing––Novel bioreactors and processing systems
and controls; major changes in downstream isolation and purification.
2. Biomedical Engineering and Research to Aid Persons with Disabilities
fundamental engineering research that has the potential to contribute to
improved health care and reduced of health care costs. Other areas of interest
include models and tools for understanding biological systems; fundamental
improvements in deriving information from cells, tissues, organs, and organ
systems; extraction of useful information from complex biomedical signals;
new approaches to the design of structures and materials for eventual medical
use; and new methods of controlling living systems. The program is also
directed toward the characterization, restoration, and substitution of normal
functions in humans. The research could lead to the development of new technologies
or to the novel application of existing technologies rather than to product
development. Also supported are undergraduate engineering design projects,
especially those that provide prototype "custom-designed" devices
or software for persons with mental or physical disabilities. New areas
of research interest include biomedical photonics and sensors.
3. Environmental Engineering and Technology
developmental research, the goal of which is to reduce the adverse effects
on land, fresh and salt water, and air that are brought on by the solid,
liquid, and gaseous discharges that result from human activity, causing
deterioration of those resources. The program also supports innovative
research in the areas of biological, chemical, and physical processes that
alone or as components of engineered systems to restore the usefulness
of polluted land, water, and air resources. Emphasis is on engineering principles
that underlie pollution avoidance, and pollution treatment and repair.
sensors, innovative production processes, waste reduction and recycling,
and industrial ecology are important to this program. Research may be directed
toward improving the cost-effectiveness of pollution avoidance as well
as developing new principles for pollution avoidance technologies. The program
places particular emphasis on engineering principles that underlie pollution