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Annette Bunge

Professor Emeritus, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Annette BungeAnnette Loch Bunge began her engineering career in 1972 as a student of Chemical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma.  In 1975 she transferred to the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, where she graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1976. She then continued her education at the University of California, Berkeley, completing her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 1982. Dr. Bunge’s search for a Chemical Engineering Department that emphasized both research and teaching led her to the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), where she became an Assistant Professor in Fall 1981.  She quickly distinguished herself by receiving the highly competitive National Science Foundation research initiation grant in her first year. Based on continued achievements, she was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 1985. Six years later she was promoted to full Professor, becoming the first woman to achieve this rank at CSM.

Dr. Bunge has a consistent record of research achievement. Through 2009 after 28 years at CSM, she has been Principal Investigator on projects totaling almost $6.2 MM and a significant contributor on an additional $3.2 MM in projects. As a result of this research, she has authored nearly 60 refereed publications, over 20 book chapters, and more than 100 conference proceedings. At the same time, she has remained committed to educating students, which was recognized in 1986 by the Dow Outstanding Young Faculty Award. Dr. Bunge is an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher, who, while technically demanding, emphasizes preparation of engineering students for life-long learning and adaptability in rapidly changing technical, social and economic environments. In her own career, she responded to shifting scientific needs by moving from her Ph.D. research in enhanced oil recovery to novel techniques for remediating chemically contaminated soils and to membrane separation methods applied to wastewater cleanup. These research areas led to her focus of the past 20 years: absorption of chemicals into and through human skin. Her goal is to understand the mechanisms of skin barrier function, with the objective of predicting dermal absorption of chemicals from a variety of media (e.g., liquids, particulate materials, and solid residues) under diverse circumstances (e.g., medical, environmental and occupational). This research is necessarily multidisciplinary and Dr. Bunge has several long-standing collaborations with pharmaceutical chemists, dermatologists, pharmacologists and toxicologists in the United States and around the world. She is recognized as a technical expert and has worked for many years with the United States Environmental Protection Agency to develop consistent, scientifically based, methods for estimating dermal absorption of toxic chemicals from water, soils and pesticide residues. Her chief contribution in these endeavors has been to bring an engineering approach to a biological field of study.

In addition, Annette has advocated by example the importance of balancing an engineering career with outside interests. In her case, she has passionately practiced many athletic pursuits, enjoying significant personal achievements in some (e.g., marathon running, skiing and rock climbing), including an appearance on the cover of Rock & Ice. She has shared these interests with students formally (as the school’s ski coach for seven years from 1989 – 1995) as well as informally (in conversation and as they observe her participating in various sports).


Alderson Hall 153
1613 Illinois Street
Golden, CO 80401
(303) 273-3722



  • BS – State University of New York, Buffalo
  • PhD – University of California, Berkeley

Current Research Projects

Manifestation of therapeutic or toxic effects following chemical contact with skin will only occur if there is dermal absorption. The ultimate objective of this research is to develop algorithms for predicting the rate and extent of absorption following dermal contact with a chemical. This prediction can then be used for health risk assessments or drug delivery and design. Research on this subject is conducted in collaboration with pharmaceutical chemists, toxicologists, dermatologists and computational scientists at several research facilities around the world. Our goals are to conduct experiments that produce well-defined and interpretable data, identify absorption mechanisms, and develop descriptive mathematical models of barrier membranes like skin.