Biomolecular Engineering

Baskin Engineering
335 Baskin Engineering Building
(831) 459-2158

Programs Offered

Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics B.S.

Biotechnology B.A.

Bioinformatics Minor

Biomolecular Engineering Contiguous Bachelor's/Master's Pathway

Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics M.S.

Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics Ph.D.

The Department of Biomolecular Engineering (BME) is an interdisciplinary department that combines expertise from biology, mathematics, chemistry, computer science, and engineering to train students and develop technologies to address major problems at the forefront of biomedical and bio-industrial research. Students trained in the Department of Biomolecular Engineering can look forward to careers in academia, the information and biotechnology industries, public health, or medical sciences.

The department offers a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in biomolecular engineering and bioinformatics, a minor in bioinformatics, a contiguous B.S./M.S. pathway for well-prepared undergraduate students, a graduate master of science (M.S.) and a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in biomolecular engineering and bioinformatics. The department co-sponsors the Program in Biomedical Science and Engineering (PBSE), a doctoral training program, with the departments of MCD Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology.

Departmental faculty advise undergraduate and graduate researchers enrolled in the bioinformatics, bioengineering, and related degree programs. Members of the Department of Biomolecular Engineering actively collaborate with faculty from other Baskin School of Engineering departments, such as Applied Mathematics and Statistics, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and Electrical Engineering; and with the Physical and Biological Sciences departments of MCD Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Ocean Sciences.

Undergraduate Program

The Department of Biomolecular Engineering offers a Bachelor of Science in Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics (BMEB), a Bachelor of Arts in Biotechnology, and a minor in Bioinformatics. The BMEB B.S. program has two distinct tracks: one in biomolecular engineering which provides undergraduate training in experimental engineering, and a second with a computational focus in bioinformatics. The Biotechnology B.A. program provides an overview of the field and is suitable for those students intending to double major in humanities or social sciences.

Courses for Nonmajors

BME 5, Introduction to Biotechnology, presents a broad overview of the impact of biotechnology on the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

BME 18, Scientific Principles of Life, covers the principles of life as it exists on this planet and how they generalize. Discusses Darwinian evolution, genomes, scientific theories of life (mechanistic, thermodynamic, information theoretic), and future of life (Internet, machine learning and adaptation, artificial intelligence, genome editing, fully artificial life).

BME 80G, Bioethics in the Twenty-First Century: Science, Business, and Society, is particularly appropriate to all students interested in the societal issues surrounding the revolutions in bioinformatics and biotechnology.

BME 80H, The Human Genome, covers principles of human inheritance and techniques used in gene analysis and discusses the evolutionary, social, ethical, and legal issues associated with knowledge of the human genome.

BME 110, Computational Biology Tools, provides an introduction to the tools and techniques of bioinformatics from a user's view. It is intended for biologists and biochemists who need to use bioinformatics tools, but are not primarily interested in building new bioinformatics tools.

BME 130, Genomes, teaches the principles of genome-scale analysis to answer biological questions.

BME 160, Programming for Biologists and Biochemists, provides an introductory programming class using Python to analyze, transform, and publish biological data.

BME 163, Applied Visualization and Analysis of Scientific Data, extends this life-science data focus with an emphasis on understanding and presenting that data.

Graduate Program

The Department of Biomolecular Engineering offers interdisciplinary M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biomolecular engineering and bioinformatics and accepts students from a wide-variety of backgrounds. A typical cohort includes incoming students from molecular biology, genetics, computer science, engineering, and mathematics. The unifying theme of our research training program is using quantitative approaches to addressing fundamental questions in biology and biomedical science. The Ph.D. program prepares students to lead independent research programs in academic or industry settings. The M.S. program is designed to prepare students for careers in contemporary biomedical research settings in the biotechnology industry.

Program coursework is designed to provide the technical skills in programming and other technical skills required for independent and advanced scientific discovery. Incoming students undertake rigorous core coursework, conduct laboratory rotations (Ph.D. only), and are exposed to a rich environment of regular seminars and group meetings. Students interact closely with biomolecular engineering and bioinformatics faculty members while undertaking their dissertation research (Ph.D.) or capstone projects (M.S.), and have first-hand access to state-of-the-art computation tools and laboratory facilities throughout their training, including cluster computing and high-throughput sequencing facilities.