Biomolecular Engineering

Biomolecules, including DNA, RNA, proteins, peptides and the constellation of small molecules made by cells, are the molecules that fuel life. Biomolecular engineering is the analysis and engineering of these living systems. Our research uses techniques from synthetic biology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering, and cell biology to quantify and manipulate the three-dimensional structure and function of molecules and macromolecular assemblies for potential medical applications.

Synthetic biology includes the development of biosensors or genetic circuits to assist in the design and optimization of metabolically engineered strains. An important tool in this area — recognized by the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to Princeton Engineering alumna Frances Arnold — is directed evolution, which involves the generation of large libraries of protein mutants at the genetic level followed by screening or selection of functional variants.

Computational efforts in this area help illuminate the structure and conformations of biomolecules over a range of physiological environments, including unusual environments like subfreezing temperatures or solutions with high concentrations of denaturants.


José L. Avalos

Metabolic Engineering; Synthetic Biology; Structural Biology and Protein Engineering; Systems Biology; Protein Biochemistry and Biophysics

Clifford P. Brangwynne

Patterning in Developing Embryos; Physical Properties and Function of RNA/Protein Bodies; Architecture and Dynamics of the Cytoskeleton

Mark P. Brynildsen

Host-pathogen Interactions; Bacterial Persistence

Jonathan M. Conway

Plant-Microbe Interactions; Systems Biology; Microbiome; Bacterial Genetics; Synthetic Biology; Enzymology

Pablo G. Debenedetti

Liquid State Theory; Glass Transition; Nucleation Theory; Protein Thermodynamics; Molecular Simulation; Biopreservation

David B. Graves

Ionized Gas Plasma-Aided Nanofabrication; Plasma Catalysis; Molecular Simulations of Plasma-Surface Interactions

Jerelle A. Joseph

Theory and simulation of biomolecular self-assembly; Design and bioengineering of protein/RNA compartments; Multiscale computational models

A. James Link

Protein Engineering; Peptides; Natural Products; Antibiotics; Microbiology; Genomics; Supramolecular Chemistry

Michael A. Webb

Theory and simulation of soft/polymeric materials; computational materials design; multiscale simulation; machine-learning in molecular modeling

Associated Faculty

Daniel Cohen

Bioengineering: biomaterials, biomechanics, swarm behavior

Mohamed S. Donia

Small-molecule-mediated interactions, the human microbiome in health and disease, metagenomics and computational biology, drug metabolism

William M. Jacobs

Theory and simulation of molecular self-assembly; multicomponent fluids; biomolecules; design of soft materials

Cameron A. Myhrvold

CRISPR-based technologies for studying viral and host RNA and to detect and destroy viral RNAs.

Sabine Petry

Molecular architecture and function of the microtubule cytoskeleton; X-ray crystallography and engineering; biophysical methods

Stanislav Y. Shvartsman

Quantitative Analysis of Pattern Formation and Morphogenesis in Developing Tissues; Genetics, Genomics and Computation of Signaling Pathways

Jared E. Toettcher

Cell Signaling Pathways; Cellular Optogenetics; High-resolution Microscopy; Biochemistry/Cell Biology; Systems Biology; Signal Processing

Martin H. Wühr

Molecular Self-organization; Protein Partitioning; Quantitative Proteomics