Guide to Programs Splash Page Skip Navigation Search Guide to Programs    NSF   Questions   NSF E-Bulletin   OLPA Home   NSF Site Map   NSF Home

This document has been archived. For current NSF funding opportunities, see

Directorate for Engineering
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 include 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, and water. 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 so forth.
  • 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

Supports 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

Supports sustainable 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 are used 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. Improved 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 avoidance.

Back to top
The National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22230, USA
Tel: 703-292-5111, FIRS: 800-877-8339 | TDD: 703-292-5090