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.
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.
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.
The Research Team
The Research Team
The Research Team
Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Dow Chemical Co. Faculty Scholar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The Operating Team
An alphabetical listing of all postdocs, research technicians, and graduate students doing CABBI research in the Conversion Theme.
Mingfeng Cao, Chem. and Biomolecular Eng. Research Scientist (Zhao), Univ. of Ill. at Urbana-C.
Ming-Hsun Cheng, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Postdoc (Singh), University of Ill. at Urbana-C.
Kisurb Choe, Microbiology Ph.D. Candidate (Sweedler), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Behnam Enghiad, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), University of Illinois at Urbana-C.
Arian Ghorbanpour, iSEE Postdoc (Flaherty), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Meera Gupta, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Wühr), Princeton University
Paul Hanke, Chemical Engineering Research Technician (Zhao), University of Ill. at Urbana-C.
Ping-Hung Hsieh, Biology Postdoc (Yoshikuni), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Sujit Jagtap, Chem. and Biomolecular Eng. Postdoc (Rao), University of Ill. at Urbana-Champaign
Nurzhan Kuanyshev, iSEE Bioengineering Postdoc (Jin), University of Illinois at Urbana-C.
Stephan Lane, Food Science & Human Nutrition Ph.D. Candidate (Jin), U. of Ill. at Urbana-C.
Jaewon Lee, Food Science & Human Nutrition Ph.D. Candidate (Jin), U. of Ill. at Urbana-C.
Jing-Jing Liu, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology Postdoc (Rao), Univ. of Ill. at Urbana-C.
Tong Si, Carl R. Woese Inst. for Genomic Bio. Postdoc (Sweedler/Zhao), Univ. of Ill. at Urbana-C.
Vangelis Simeonidis, Systems Biologist and Chemical Engineer (Price), Institute for Systems Biology
Will Streyer, Chemical Engineering Postdoc (Zhao), University of Illinois at Urbana-C.
Vinh Tran, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), University of Ill. at Urbana-Champaign
Lam Vo, Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), University of Ill. at Urbana-Champaign
Hanna Walukiewicz, Chem. & Biomolecular Eng. Senior Research Scientist (Rao), U. of Ill. at Urbana-C.
Xiaoyi Wang, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Rao), University of Ill. at Urbana-C.
Matthew Waugh, iSEE Chemistry Postdoc (Lu), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Tianxia Xiao, Chemistry M.S. Candidate (Rabinowitz), Princeton University
Xi Xing, Chemistry Research Scientist (Rabinowitz), Princeton University
Mason Xue, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), University of Ill. at Urbana-C.