Conversion: Turning Plants into High-value Chemicals

The scientists in this theme will further develop a versatile, automated “biofoundry” for rapidly engineering microbial strains that can efficiently produce diverse, high-value molecules such as biodiesel, organic acids, jet fuels, lubricants, and alcohols. Using the design-build-test-learn framework, research in the Conversion theme will overcome the challenges associated with driving biological systems to produce non-natural compounds.

Check out a video of an integral part of the CABBI Conversion theme: the Illinois Biological Foundry for Advanced Biomanufacturing (iBioFAB) >>>

Huimin Zhao: Theme Leader

Zhao, the Steven L. Miller Chair of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is also a Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, and Bioengineering. He has 17-plus years of experience directing research projects funded by DOE, NSF, NIH, DOD, the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, and various companies. His research develops and applies synthetic biology approaches to engineer functionally improved or novel proteins, pathways, and genomes. An expert in industrial biotechnology, Zhao received his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1998 from the California Institute of Technology.

His Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering page >>>

His lab page >>>

Joshua Rabinowitz: Deputy Theme Leader

Rao, a Professor of Chemistry and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University, is an expert in chemical biology. He aims to achieve a quantitative, comprehensive understanding of cellular metabolism as it relates to disease — as well as small molecules that can be the basis of many important pharmaceuticals and other biochemicals. His research is in technology development
, metabolic regulation in model microorganisms , biofuel production, metabolic impact of viral and malaria infection
, and cancer cell metabolism. Rabinowitz received his Ph.D. in Biophysics in 1999 at Stanford University.

His Chemistry page >>>

His lab page >>>

Christopher Rao: Deputy Theme Leader

Rao, a Professor and and Robert W. Schaefer Scholar of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, researches the rational engineering of non-model, living organisms for production of chemicals and fuels from plant biomass. His lab uses genetics, biochemistry, mass spectrometry, microscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance on the experimental side to bioinformatics, finite element analysis, molecular dynamics, and stochastic and multi-scale simulation on the modeling/theory side. He received his Ph.D. in 2000 in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

His Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering page >>>

His lab page >>>

The Research Team

Bruce Dien

Research Chemical Engineer, U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Peoria, IL

His USDA ARS page >>>

The Bioenergy Research Unit page >>>

The Research Team

James A. Dumesic

Ernest Micek Distinguished Chair in Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin at Madison

His Engineering page >>>

His lab page >>>

 

The Research Team

David Flaherty

Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Dow Chemical Co. Faculty Scholar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

His Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering page >>>

His lab page >>>

Yong-Su Jin

Associate Professor of Food Microbiology, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

His Food Science and Human Nutrition page >>>

His lab page >>>

His research profile >>>

Ting Lu

Associate Professor of Bioengineering, Assistant Professor of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

His Bioengineering page >>>

His lab page >>>

Yi Lu

Jay and Ann Schenk Professor of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

His Chemistry page >>>

His lab page >>>

Sergei Maslov

Professor of Bioengineering and Bliss Faculty Scholar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

His Bioengineering page >>>

His lab page >>>

Brian Pfleger

Jay and Cynthia Ihlenfeld Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin at Madison

His Chemical and Biological Engineering page >>>

His lab page >>>

Nathan Price

Associate Director and Professor, Institute for Systems Biology

His ISB page >>>

His lab page >>>

Vijay Singh

Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

His Agricultural and Biological Engineering page >>>

His Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory page >>>

Saurabh Sinha

Professor of Computer Science, Associate Professor of Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

His Bioengineering page >>>

His lab page >>>

Patricia Slininger

Research Chemical Engineer, U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Peoria, IL

Her USDA ARS page >>>

The Bioenergy Research Unit page >>>

 

Jonathan Sweedler

James R. Eiszner Family Endowed Chair and Professor of Chemistry, Director of School of Chemical Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

His Chemistry page >>>

His lab page >>>

Martin Wühr

Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University

His Chemical and Biological Engineering page >>>

His lab page >>>

Yasuo Yoshikuni

Biologist/Staff Scientist, Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

His LBNL page >>>

Chengxiang Zhai

Professor of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

His Computer Science page >>>

His lab page >>>

The Operating Team

An alphabetical listing of all researchers, postdocs, technicians, and graduate students doing CABBI research in the Feedstock Production Theme.

A-F

PRIYANKA BALONI

Postdoc

PI: Price

Institute for Systems Biology

More >>>

MINGFENG CAO

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Research Scientist

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

MING-HSUN CHENG

Postdoc

PI: Singh

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

KISURB CHOE

Microbiology Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Sweedler

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

WILLIAM CORDELL

Chemical and Biological Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Pfleger

University of Wisconsin at Madison

PAYAM DIBAEINIA

Bioinformatics M.S. Candidate

PI: Sinha

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

BEHNAM ENGHIAD

Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

ZIA FATMA

Postdoc

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

G-L

EMILY GAITHER

iBioFAB Technician

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

MEERA GUPTA

Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Wühr

Princeton University

More >>>

PING-HUNG HSIEH

Postdoc

PI: Yoshikuni

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

XIAOQIANG HUANG

Postdoc

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

SUJIT JAGTAP

Postdoc

PI: Rao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

YUYAO JIA

Agricultural and Biological Engineering M.S. Candidate

PI: Singh

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

MICHAEL JINDRA

Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Pfleger

University of Wisconsin at Madison

More >>>

NAM KYU KANG

Integration Postdoc

PIs: Ort (Feedstock Production)/Jin (Conversion)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

DONGWON KI

Integration Postdoc

PIs: Guest (Sustainability)/Rao/Jin (Conversion)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

NURZHAN KUANYSHEV

Postdoc

PI: Jin

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

DEEPAK KUMAR

Agricultural and Biological Engineering Research Assistant Professor

PI: Singh

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More >>>  

RYAN LAKE

Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Yi Lu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

STEPHAN LANE

Food Science and Human Nutrition Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Jin

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

JAEWON LEE

Food Science and Human Nutrition Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Jin

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

ISMINI LOURENTZOU

Computer Science Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Zhai

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

M-R

W. LANCE MARTIN

Senior Scientist

PI: Wühr

Princeton University

More >>>

TERESA MARTIN

Coordinator of Research Programs

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

DANIEL McCLELLAND

Postdoc

PI: Dumesic

University of Wisconsin at Madison

EVAN MIRTS

Postdoc

PI: Yi Lu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

THAO NGUYEN

Chemical and Biological Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Wühr

Princeton University

More >>>

CONGJIAN NI 

Biophysics and Quantum Biology Ph.D. Candidate

PI: T. Lu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

PARTHA PRATIM PANDEY

Postdoc

PI: Maslov

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

GREG PAWEL

Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Yi Lu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

MATTHEW PLUTZ 

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Senior Research Scientist

PI: Rao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

LILLIA RYAZANOVA

Research Specialist

PI: Wühr

Princeton University

More >>>

S-Z

YIHUI SHEN

Postdoc

PI: Rabinowitz

Princeton University

TONG SI

Postdoc

PIs: Sweedler/Zhao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

His research profile >>>

JORDAN SICKLE

Center for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Ting Lu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

SHAYAN TABE BORDBAR

Computer Science Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Sinha

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

VINH TRAN

Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

LAM VO

Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

HANNA WALUKIEWICZ

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Senior Research Scientist

PI: Rao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

LIN WANG

Postdoc

PI: Rabinowitz

Princeton University

More >>>

XIAOYI WANG 

Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Rao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

YAJIE WANG

Postdoc

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

MATTHEW WAUGH

Postdoc

PI: Yi Lu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

WILLIAM WOODRUFF

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Rao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

TIANXIA XIAO

Chemistry M.S. Candidate

PI: Rabinowitz

Princeton University

More >>>

XI XING

Chemistry Research Scientist

PI: Rabinowitz

Princeton University

More >>>

MASON XUE

Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

QIANG YAN

Postdoc

PI: Pfleger

University of Wisconsin at Madison

ZHENGLIN YANG

Biochemistry Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Yi Lu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

SANGDO YOOK

Food Science and Human Nutrition Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Jin

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

FORMER TEAM MEMBERS

Chang Cui, Chemistry Graduate Student (Yi Lu), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Arian Ghorbanpour, Postdoc (Flaherty), University of Illinois at Urbana-C. Research profile >>>

Paul Hanke, Chemical Engineering Research Technician (Zhao), University of Ill. at Urbana-C.

Chen Liao, Postdoc (Ting Lu), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Jing-Jing Liu, Postdoc (Rao), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Research profile >>>

Vangelis Simeonidis, Research Scientist/Program Manager (Price), Institute for Systems Biology

Will Streyer, Postdoc (Zhao), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign