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Photo courtesy of Dennis Schroeder | National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Photo courtesy of Dennis Schroeder | National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Lead Chemical/Biological Engineer

Alternate Title(s) Supervisory Biochemical or Agricultural Engineer Lead Biochemist; Supervisory Physical Scientist
Education & Training Level Description Doctorate in Chemical, Biological, Agricultural, or Environmental Engineering, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Physics, or related field.
Experience 10+ years
Job Skills
  • Knowledge of professional chemical and biological engineering theories, concepts, principles, techniques, and practices
  • Ability to analyze data and communicate results in oral and written presentations
  • Ability to apply systems and software engineering principles, as well as emerging software and hardware technologies to complex processes and to plan/organize work
  • Ability to organize, analyze, interpret, and evaluate scientific data in the solution of engineering problems
  • Excellent technical writing, interpersonal, and communication skills
  •  Management experience, including performance management, training, supervision and leadership.
Job Profile

A critical goal for the bioenergy industry is to develop commercially viable and sustainable technologies for converting biomass feedstocks into finished liquid transportation fuels (e.g., renewable gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel) as well as bioproducts (chemicals and materials) and biopower. With a strong foundation in chemistry, the biological sciences, and process engineering, biological and chemical engineers are in a unique position to deliver the key innovations that will drive the bioenergy industry forward.
Biological and chemical engineers apply their knowledge and understanding of the principles of biochemistry, cellular biology, molecular biology, physics, and engineering to develop, design, optimize, and eventually scale up processes that use living cells, thermodynamics, chemical catalysts, microorganisms, or biological molecules (e.g., enzymes) for the production of biofuels and bioproducts. Critical advances in conversion technologies can take the industry from the research stage to pilot scale, and eventually to large-scale commercialization.
Closely related to biological engineering is the equally important field of agricultural engineering. Individuals within this specialization apply their knowledge of biology, genetics, horticulture, natural resources, and crop science to enhance the productivity of biomass feedstocks and design agricultural systems that protect natural resources. Agricultural engineers can also help develop technologies for the cost-effective harvest, collection, preprocessing, storage, and transport of diverse biomass resources.

At the senior or supervisory level, chemical and biological engineers lead teams of scientists to improve the economics and efficiency of advanced biomass conversion using thermochemical processes and catalytic cracking, microbial physiology, fermentation, enzymatic hydrolysis systems, and processes monitoring and control. A Ph.D. in chemical or biological engineering or a related field with a focus on polymers, catalysis, thermodynamics, chemical separations, process microbiology, post-harvest operations, ecological restoration, or precision agricultural concepts and tools is highly recommended. Individuals at this level should have demonstrated experience conducting original research that results in major scholarly publications.