Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical and Biological Engineering (PhD)

Overview

Chemical and Chemical & Biological engineers create and develop processes to change raw materials into the products that society depends on; food, chemicals, fuels, energy, metals, pharmaceuticals, paper, plastics, and personal care products. Chemical and process engineers help to manage natural resources, protect the environment, control health and safety procedures, and recycle materials, while developing and managing the processes which make the products we use.

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering was established in 1999 at UBC, and reflects the growing need for engineers in the fields of biotechnology, biomedical and bio-resource engineering. At present there are 24 full-time faculty in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, together with a support staff of 17.

We have established a world-class reputation in several areas of chemical engineering science including fluid-solids contacting, pulp and paper engineering, heat exchanger fouling and, more recently, biotechnology.

The Department is actively engaged in applied research, CHBE faculty-led research provides innovative and sustainable solutions to pressing local and global challenges to industry and society.

  • Energy and Fuels: Sustainable clean energy and fuels supply and use
  • Natural Resources: Managing and maximizing the value of Canada’s forest and fossil carbon reserves
  • Environment: Mitigating climate change/pollution; Clean water and biodiversity security
  • Health: Rising medical costs in the face of aging population; Cancer and other deadly diseases
  • Industry: Increasing pressure from emerging economies

Solutions to the above challenges are inextricably linked to our understanding of complex chemical and biological systems.

 
 

Program Enquiries

Still have questions after reviewing this page thoroughly?
Contact the program

Admission Information & Requirements

1) Check Eligibility

Minimum Academic Requirements

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:

Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Please review the program website carefully to understand the program requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitive process.

English Language Test

Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.

Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:

TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language - internet-based

Overall score requirement: 90

Reading

22

Writing

21

Speaking

21

Listening

22

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 6.5

Reading

6.0

Writing

6.0

Speaking

6.0

Listening

6.0

Other Test Scores

Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:

The GRE is not required.

2) Meet Deadlines

Application open dates and deadlines for an upcoming intake have not yet been configured in the admissions system. Please check back later.

3) Prepare Application

Transcripts

All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.

Letters of Reference

A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.

Statement of Interest

Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.

Supervision

Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical and Biological Engineering (PhD)
Applicants should browse faculty profiles and indicate in their application who they are interested in working with. No commitment from a supervisor prior to applying is necessary, but contacting faculty members is encouraged.

Citizenship Verification

Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.

4) Apply Online

All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$108.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,698.56$2,984.09
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,095.68$8,952.27
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$969.17 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,242.00 (check cost calculator)
* Regular, full-time tuition. For on-leave, extension, continuing or part time (if applicable) fees see UBC Calendar.
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Financial Support

Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.

Program Funding Packages

Applicants who are interested in catalysis research with a focus on programs addressing waste generation, environmental compatibility, energy efficiency, and alternative energy sources may consider the SusSyn program that provides additional funding and professional development opportunities. Applicants who are interested in the production, preparation, and application of nuclear isotopes for science and medicine may consider the IsoSiM program. 

All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2021 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $22,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $22,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 40 students within this program were included in this study because they received funding through UBC in the form of teaching, research/academic assistantships or internal or external awards averaging $30,152.
  • 20 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 20 students was $3,786.
  • 31 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 31 students was $20,467.
  • 40 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 40 students was $9,331.
  • 4 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 4 students was $30,667.

Study Period: Sep 2019 to Aug 2020 - average funding for full-time PhD students enrolled in three terms per academic year in this program across years 1-4, the period covered by UBC's Minimum Funding Guarantee. Averages might mask variability in sources and amounts of funding received by individual students. Beyond year 4, funding packages become even more individualized.
Review methodology
Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)

All applicants are encouraged to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund their graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.

Teaching Assistantships (GTA)

Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.

Research Assistantships (GRA)

Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Some research projects also require targeted research assistance and thus hire graduate students on an hourly basis.

Financial aid (need-based funding)

Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.

All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.

Foreign government scholarships

Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.

Working while studying

The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.

International students enrolled as full-time students with a valid study permit can work on campus for unlimited hours and work off-campus for no more than 20 hours a week.

A good starting point to explore student jobs is the UBC Work Learn program or a Co-Op placement.

Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals

Students with taxable income in Canada may be able to claim federal or provincial tax credits.

Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.

Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.

Cost Calculator

Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.

Career Outcomes

106 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 1 graduate is seeking employment; 1 is in a non-salaried situation; for 8 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 96 graduates:


RI (Research-Intensive) Faculty: typically tenure-track faculty positions (equivalent of the North American Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor positions) in PhD-granting institutions
TI (Teaching-Intensive) Faculty: typically full-time faculty positions in colleges or in institutions not granting PhDs, and teaching faculty at PhD-granting institutions
Term Faculty: faculty in term appointments (e.g. sessional lecturers, visiting assistant professors, etc.)
Sample Employers in Higher Education
University of British Columbia (10)
McGill University (2)
King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (2)
University of Costa Rica
Iran University of Science and Technology
Shandong University
Universiti Malaysia Sabah
Universidad Veracruzana
South University of Science and Technology of China
Daegu University
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Coanda Research and Development Corporation (3)
Ballard Power Systems (2)
Honeywell (2)
ZincNyx Energy Solutions, Inc. (2)
NORAM Engineering and Constructors Ltd. (2)
DuPont
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research
TAKREER (Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company)
Wood Group
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Research Engineer (4)
Research Scientist (3)
Scientist (2)
Research and Technology Advisor (2)
Senior Research Scientist (2)
Engineer (2)
Director (2)
Senior Process Research Scientist
Research Engineer, Strategic Technology Planner
Head, Process Modeling & Simulation Section
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
Disclaimer
This program underwent a name or structural change in the study time frame, and all alumni from the previous program were included in these summaries. These data represent historical employment information and do not guarantee future employment prospects for graduates of this program. They are for informational purposes only. Data were collected through either alumni surveys or internet research.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical and Biological Engineering (PhD). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.

Enrolment Data

 20192018201720162015
Applications8191778466
Offers122191816
New registrations10821514
Total enrolment7270748591

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 95.74% based on 47 students admitted between 2007 - 2010. Based on 53 graduations between 2016 - 2019 the minimum time to completion is 3.32 years and the maximum time is 7.83 years with an average of 5.14 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 10 March 2020]. Enrolment data are based on March 1 snapshots. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Rates and times of completion depend on a number of variables (e.g. curriculum requirements, student funding), some of which may have changed in recent years for some programs [data updated: 29 October 2020].

Research Supervisors

This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.

  • Baldwin, Susan (Bioprocess engineering, bioremediation, biomedical reaction modelling)
  • Berlinguette, Curtis (Combinatorial Chemistry; CO2 conversion and utilization; clean energy; advanced solar cells; electrochromic windows; dynamic windows; hydrogen fuels production; catalysis; robotics and automation; machine learning / artificial intelligence)
  • Bi, Xiaotao (Chemical engineering; Biomass and Bioenergy; Electrostatics of Powders; Fluidization; Fuel Cells Water Management; Green Engineering; Industrial Symbiosis; Life Cycle Analysis; Multiphase Chemical Reactors; Particle technology)
  • Cao, Yankai (Chemical engineering; Optimization, Control and Operations Research; Solar and Wind Energy; Artificial Intelligence; Large Scale Optimization)
  • Cranston, Emily (Nanoparticle synthesis, properties and applications; Bio-based materials and nanocellulose; Atomic force microscopy (forces, adhesion, friction, imaging); Colloid and interface science; Polymer chemistry; Cellulose nanocrystals; Bioproducts; Foams, emulsions, aerogels)
  • Ellis, Naoko (Chemical engineering; Chemical Processes; CO2 capture and utilization; Interdisciplinary teaching and learning; multiphase systems; thermochemical conversion of biomass)
  • Englezos, Peter (Carbon capture engineering; Natural gas hydrates and other clathrates: science, engineering and novel applications; CO2 capture & storage; Novel materials from forest bio-resources, High-value papermaking)
  • Feng, James (Chemical engineering; Mathematics and statistics; Biophysics; Complex fluids; Fluid mechanics; Mathematical biology)
  • Foster, Johan (Chemical engineering; 3D Printing; Biomaterials; Biomedical Devices; Bioproducts; Cellulose Nanomaterials; Fibers; Polymers)
  • Frostad, John (Chemical engineering; Food sciences (including food engineering); Emulsions; Fluid mechanics; Foams; Functional Foods; Interfacial Phenomena; Interfacial Rheology; Novel Instrumentation; Nutriceuticals and Functional Foods; Physics of Soft Matter; Sensory Analysis)
  • Gopaluni, Bhushan (Modelling and experiment design, identification for control)
  • Gyenge, Elod Lajos (Electrochemical engineering, fuel cells, batteries, electrodes)
  • Hatzikiriakos, Savvas (Polymer melt and suspension rheology, food rheology, polymer melt processing, superhydrophobicity, surface science, winter sports expert, ski/skate performance and snow/ice friction. )
  • Haynes, Charles (Protein purification, recombinant proteins, molecular thermodynamics, biocompatible polymers)
  • Lau, Anthony K (Environmental engineering, waste-to-resource recycling, composting, odor control, biohydrogen energy )
  • Lim, Choon Jim (Biomass and fossil fuels, Spouted bed, Gas-particle system hydrodynamics, heat transfer, Hydrogen production)
  • Martinez, Mark (Chemical engineering; Complex fluids; Flow visualization; Fluid mechanics)
  • Mohseni, Madjid (Chemical engineering; Drinking Water; Chemical Pollutants; Used Water; Clean Technologies; Advanced oxidation; Drinking water quality and treatment; Electrochemical water treatment processes; UV based water purification and treatment; Water re-use)
  • Piret, James (Biomedical engineering, regenerative medicine Cell-based therapies have the potential to provide improved treatments for major diseases such as cancer and diabetes)
  • Rojas, Orlando (Nanopolysaccharides (based on cellulose, chitin, starches and others); Bacterial nanocelluloses; Cellulose derivatives; Lignins, colloidal lignins, nanolignins and their uses; Renewable biopolymers (hemicelluloses, proteins, chitin and chitosan, alginates and others); Multiphase systems (emulsions, foams, dispersed systems), gels, aerogels; Films, filaments and hybrid materials; Nanocomposites; Bioactive systems; Fiber processing; Pulp and paper)
  • Smith, Kevin (Fossil Fuels; Biomass (Energy); Chemical Processes; Applied catalysis)
  • Srebnik, Simcha (Chemical engineering; Bioinspired engineering and biomimetic design; Carbon nanotubes; Developing models for interfacial polymerization membraned; Diffusion in nanostructured materials; Functional materials; Hierarchical modeling; Mechanical properties of polymers melts and polymer networks; Molecular simulation of polymers and composite materials; Molecular simulations; Optimization of protein-imprinted polymers; Polymers and biopolymers; Protein folding and stability; Statistical thermodynamics of polymers and biopolymers; Understanding polymer-carbon nanotube interactions)
  • Taghipour, Fariborz (Clean Technologies; Solar and Wind Energy; Drinking Water; solar fuels; Artificial Photosynthetic Systems; UV Photoreactors; UV-LED Reactors; UV Microplasma; Modeling of Chemical and Biochemical Reactors; Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD))
  • Trajano, Heather (Chemical engineering; Biomass (Energy); Wood; Pulp and paper; Biochemicals; Biomass extractives recovery and utilization; Biorefining; catalysis; Hemicellulose; Kinetics; Pretreatment)

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Doctoral Citations

A doctoral citation summarizes the nature of the independent research, provides a high-level overview of the study, states the significance of the work and says who will benefit from the findings in clear, non-specialized language, so that members of a lay audience will understand it.
Year Citation
2020 Dr. Paterson explored and modelled the dynamic response of papermaking fibre suspensions undergoing compressive dewatering operations. His research advanced traditional deformable porous media models by including effects of the fibres' complex structure. The findings are valuable for optimizing designs of pulp and paper industrial equipment.
2020 Dr. Daniel studied the interfaces between layers in the multilayer structure of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell. His work resulted in an integrated multilayer architecture that eliminates detrimental gaps around the catalyst layer to improve the performance and operational flexibility of fuel cells, critical for automotive applications.
2020 Dr. Dara developed an innovation for the simultaneous conversion of waste brines and carbon dioxide produced during industrial operations to re-usable water and chemicals. The first of a kind technology is now being commercialized by Mangrove Water Technologies and has the potential to reduce lithium battery costs leading to increased EV adoption.
2020 Dr. Espid collaboratively designed, fabricated and tested a new photo-electro-chemical sensing technology to analyze contaminants in water and air, aiming to determine the level and type of treatment needs. This research illuminates the role of novel UV-LEDs to develop low cost and high performance sensors to monitor and control indoor air quality.
2020 Dr. Serrano-Mora studied the use of activated carbon electrodes to desalinate brackish water. He analyzed the long-term influence of commonly found water components and different approaches to restore their desalination capacity. This research advances the development of Capacitive Deionization for the production of freshwater using saline sources.
2020 Dr. Kim studied particle breakage in sorption-enhanced chemical looping, which produces H2-enriched synthesis gas while capturing CO2 from fuels. He examined the breakage of oxygen carrier and CO2 sorbent particles and developed a model to improve the efficiency and stability of the process to reduce the impact on public health and the environment.
2020 Dr. Ebneyamini's research focused on the regeneration of limestone-based particles as sorbents for the capture of CO2 via calcium-looping. His work introduced a novel technology, capable of efficient sorbent regeneration at relatively mild temperatures. The process also benefits from CO2 utilization, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
2020 Dr. Mitra examined the effect of separate refining and co-refining of mixtures of softwood and hardwood pulps in terms of paper tensile strength. He developed a scaling law for tensile strength increase during refining of pulp mixtures, which will help use NBSK pulp to the highest potential and achieve target strengths depending on grades of paper.
2020 What's the best way to utilize the limited biomass resources to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions? Dr. Wang investigated the environmental impacts, economic viability, and policy implications of producing bio-energy from the available resources in British Columbia. His work provides insight into a cost-effective transition to a sustainable future.
2020 Dr. Putra developed a process for bio-fuel production using renewable carbon from woody biomass and hydrogen from glycerol and water. He showed that gasoline-like compounds can be obtained in a single process. His findings will contribute to the development of sustainable and scalable bio-refineries.

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Further Information

Chemical and Biological Engineering provides innovative and sustainable solutions to pressing local and global challenges to industry and society, with faculty being engaged in the following broad areas:

  • Biotechnology,
  • Chemical Process Engineering,
  • Energy and Materials,
  • Environmental Engineering.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-D2

Classification

 
 
 
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