Meet Dr. Curtis

Principle Investigator & Professor of Chemical Engineering

Pennsylvanian thoroughbred.

Eternal college kid.


Invented Selfies.

Loves plants, biology, engineering, & teaching.

Lives for innovation, creativity, and fun.

Pennsylvania born-and-raised, I graduated first in my class (the first graduating PSU Schreyer's class) in 1984 in Chemical Engineering, although I had initially enrolled in Biochemistry ironically to avoid pursuing graduate school. As it turns out, I love learning and teaching so I went on to graduate school and never looked back. Though technically receiving my Ph.D. at Purdue in Chemical Engineering, I completed my work on scale-up of (opium) poppy physically within its Horticulture Department. I came back to Penn State (if you check the dates closely, I even graduated two graduates students while I was setting up my lab and writing my own Ph.D. dissertation). My initial tenure-track position was a dual teaching position and directorship, where I oversaw the now-defunct Biotech Institute or what-is-now the $20M+ Shared Fermentation Facility. This included spending ~5 years assisting with industrial projects, including hosting workshops for more than a decade that served over 1,000 industrial participants. In that time, I scaled-up...anything and everything, where I now feel comfortable tackling growth of nearly any organism. Noting that CurtisLab has easily worked with more than 50 organisms to date, here are some examples:

  • yeast

  • CHO

  • HeLa

  • parasitic nematodes

  • edible

  • mycorrhizal and entomopathogenic fungi

  • plants

  • microalgae and cyanobacteria

  • syngas-fermenting, autotrophic, and even magnetotactic bacteria

Thus, rather than narrowing my work to one (myopic) field of expertise, this experience enabled me to leapfrog into multiple disciplines i.e. Plant Science and Biomedical Engineering - in which I am an Adjunct Professor of both - under the larger umbrella of bioreactor design.

How to get in touch?


Phone: 814.863.4805

Fax: 814.865.7846

Where is Dr. Curtis' Office?

409 Chemical and Biological Engineering Building (CBEB)

University Park, PA 16802