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 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

Rabinowitz, 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, Department Head, and Robert W. Schaefer Scholar of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois 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 Lead Scientists

José Avalos

Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University

His departmental 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

George Huber

Richard L. Antoine Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin at Madison

His Chemical and Biological Engineering page >>>

His lab page >>>

Heng Ji

Professor of Computer Science, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Her Computer Science page >>>

Her lab page >>>

Article on her joining CABBI >>>

Yong-Su Jin

Professor of Food Microbiology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

His Food Science and Human Nutrition page >>>

His lab page >>>

His research profile >>>

Ting Lu

Professor of Bioengineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

His Bioengineering page >>>

His lab page >>>

Costas Maranas

Donald B. Broughton Professor of Chemical Engineering, Penn State University

His Chemical Engineering page >>>

His lab page >>>

Article on Penn State joining CABBI >>>

Melanie McReynolds

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Penn State University

Her Eberly College of Science page >>>

Her 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 >>>

Zengyi Shao

Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Jack R. and Carol A. Johnson Faculty Fellow, Iowa State University

Her Chemical and Biological Engineering page >>>

Her lab page >>>

Vijay Singh

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

His Agricultural and Biological Engineering page >>>

His Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory page >>>

Jonathan Sweedler

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

His Chemistry page >>>

His lab page >>>

Yasuo Yoshikuni

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

His LBNL page >>>

The Research Team

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

A-F

SHIVALI BANERJEE

Postdoc

PI: Singh

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

AASHUTOSH BOOB

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

DANIEL BUN

Chemical & Biological Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Shao

Iowa State University

JUNYU CHEN

Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

JEREMY CORTEZ

Chemical and Biological Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Avalos

Princeton University

SETH CROSLOW

Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Sweedler

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

DEGAULLE DAI

Food Science & Human Nutrition M.S. Candidate

PI: Jin

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

NARENDRA DESHAVATH

Postdoc

PI: Singh

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

HOANG DINH

Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Maranas

Penn State University

KRISTEN EILTS

Lab Research Specialist

PI: Singh

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

CARLOS ESQUERRE FERNANDEZ

Postdoc

PI: Singh

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

THASNEEM BANU FROUSNOON

Postdoc

PI: Yoshikuni

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

G-L

WESLEY HARRISON

Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

PING-HUNG HSIEH

Postdoc

PI: Yoshikuni

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

MENGQI HU

Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Maranas

Penn State University

SUSAN HUBBARD

Chemical & Biological Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Pfleger

University of Wisconsin at Madison

More >>>

SUJIT JAGTAP

Postdoc

PI: Rao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

JAEWAN JANG

Postdoc

PI: Avalos

Princeton University

YUYAO JIA

Agricultural and Biological Engineering M.S. Candidate

PI: Singh

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

EBIN JOSEPH

Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering M.S. Candidate

PI: Rao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

MIN SOO KIM

Chemical & Biological Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Huber

University of Wisconsin at Madison

SAINT MOON KIM

Food Science & Human Nutrition Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Jin

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

HYUN GI KOH

Postdoc

PIs: Jin/Rao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

STEPHAN LANE

iBioFAB Manager

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

MAOLIN LI

Postdoc

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

XI LI

Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Rabinowitz

Princeton University

YIFEI LI

Bioengineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: T. Lu

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

DAIANE LOPES

Postdoc

PI: Dien

USDA Agricultural Research Service, Peoria, IL

M-R

SHRADDHA MAITRA

Postdoc

PI: Singh

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

ANNA MANGUS

Chemical & Biological Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Pfleger

University of Wisconsin at Madison

ELIA MANZO

Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Sweedler

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

TERESA MARTIN

Coordinator of Research Programs

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

BLAKE MIRMAN

Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Sweedler

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

MIRAI MIURA

Food Science & Human Nutrition Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Jin

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

ERIC MOONEY

Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Maranas

Penn State University

ALEXANDRIA MURPHY

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Ph.D. Candidate

PI: McReynolds

Penn State University

EVAN NEU

Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Rabinowitz

Princeton University

HYUNJOON OH

Food Science & Human Nutrition M.S. Candidate

PI: Jin

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

SERGEY PAVLYUCHENKO

Postdoc

PI: Ting Lu

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

JENIFFER PEREA-LOPEZ

Chemical & Biological Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Shao

Iowa State University

JIMMY PRATAS

Lab Technician

PI: Rabinowitz

Princeton University

TIRATH RAJ

Postdoc

PI: Singh

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

S-Z

LEONCIO SANTIAGO MARTINEZ

Postdoc

PI: Huber

University of Wisconsin at Madison

YIHUI SHEN

Postdoc

PI: Rabinowitz

Princeton University

JOY SHI

Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

NILMANI SINGH

Automation Engineer

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

More >>>

SHUCHI SINGH

Postdoc

PI: Singh

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

PATRICK SUTHERS

Research Scientist

PI: Maranas

Penn State University

More >>>

HARRY (SHIH-I) TAN

Visiting Scholar

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

LINRUI TAN

Postdoc

PI: Jin

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

HANNA WALUKIEWICZ

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Senior Research Scientist

PI: Rao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

YUAN WEI

Postdoc

PI: Shao

Iowa State University

DANIEL WEILANDT

Postdoc

PI: Rabinowitz

Princeton University

WILLIAM WOODRUFF

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Rao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

ZONG-YEN WU

Postdoc

PI: Yoshikuni

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

XI XING

Chemistry Research Scientist

PI: Rabinowitz

Princeton University

More >>>

CINDY YANG

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Rao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

JOSHUA YE

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Rao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

SANGDO YOOK

Food Science and Human Nutrition Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Jin

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

PENGFEI YU

Computer Science Ph.D. Candidate

PI: Ji

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

ZHENGYI ZHANG

Postdoc

PI: Zhao

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

FORMER TEAM MEMBERS

Priyanka Baloni, Postdoc (Price), Institute for Systems Biology

Shounak Bhogale, Biophysics Ph.D. Candidate (Sinha), U. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

William Bothfeld, Postdoc (Pfleger), University of Wisconsin at Madison

Mingfeng Cao, Chem. & Biomolecular Eng. Research Scientist (Zhao), Univ. of Ill. Urbana-C.

Li Chen, Postdoc (Rabinowitz), Princeton University

Ming-Hsun Cheng, Postdoc (Singh), University of Illinois Urbana-C. Research profile >>>

Kisurb Choe, Microbiology Ph.D. Candidate (Sweedler), U. of Illinois U-C. Research profile >>>

William Cordell, Chemical & Biological Eng. M.S. Candidate (Pfleger), U. of Wisconsin at Madison

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

Anshu Deewan, Chemical and Biomolecular Eng. Ph.D. Candidate (Rao), U. of Illinois Urbana-C.

Marco Dell’Anna, Postdoc (Huber), University of Wisconsin at Madison

Payam Dibaeinia, Bioinformatics M.S. Candidate (Sinha), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Veronika Dubinkina, Bioengineering Ph.D. Candidate (Maslov), University of Illinois Urbana-C.

Co-PI James Dumesic, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, U. of Wisc. at Madison

Behnam Enghiad, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-C.

Zia Fatma, Postdoc (Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Research profile >>>

Co-PI David Flaherty, Professor of Chem. and Biomolecular Eng., University of Illinois Urbana-C.

Alex Frese, Molecular Biology Ph.D. Candidate (Wühr), Princeton University

Emily Gaither, iBioFAB Technician (Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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

Meera Gupta, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Wühr), Princeton U. Research profile >>>

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

Xiaoqiang Huang, Postdoc (Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Matthew Jacobson, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Flaherty), U. of Ill. U.-C.

Guangde Jiang, Postdoc (Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Michael Jindra, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Pfleger), U. of Wisconsin at Madison

Alexander Johnson, Chemical & Biological Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Wühr), Princeton U.

Sam Johnstone, Chemical & Biological Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Huber), U. of W. at Madison

Nam Kyu Kang, Integration Postdoc (Jin/Ort), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Dongwon Ki, Integration Postdoc (Guest/Rao/Jin), University of Illinois Urbana-C.

Chanwoo Kim, Food Science & Human Nutrition Ph.D. Candidate (Jin), U. of Illinois Urbana-C.

Min Soo Kim, Chem. & Bio. Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Huber), U. of Wisconsin at Madison

Wentao Kong, Research Scientist (T. Lu), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Nurzhan Kuanyshev, Postdoc (Jin), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Deepak Kumar, Ag. & Biological Eng. Research Asst. Prof. (Singh), U. of Illinois Urbana-C.

Sahiti Labhishetty, Computer Science Ph.D. Candidate (Zhai), U. of Illinois Urbana-C.

Tuan Lai, Computer Science Ph.D. Candidate (Ji), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Ryan Lake, Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate (Y. Lu), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Quan Lam, Biochemistry Ph.D. Candidate (Y. Lu), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Jaewon Lee, Postdoc (Jin), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Ye-Gi Lee, Postdoc (Jin), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Xiaoyu Liang, Postdoc (Price), Institute for Systems Biology

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

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

Yiwei Liu, Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate (Y. Lu), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Ismini Lourentzou, Computer Science Ph.D. Candidate (Zhai), University of Illinois Urbana-C.

Co-PI Yi Lu, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Mingkuan Lyu, Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate (Y. Lu), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

W. Lance Martin, Senior Scientist (Wühr), Princeton University

Co-PI Sergei Maslov, Professor of Bioengineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Daniel McClelland, Postdoc (Huber), University of Wisconsin at Madison

Christopher Mehrer, Grad Student (Pfleger), University of Wisconsin at Madison

Bryan Mejia-Sosa, Chem. & Biomolecular Eng. Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), U. of Illinois Urbana-C.

Danielle Meyer, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Rao), U. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Evan Mirts, Postdoc (Y. Lu), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Shekhar Mishra, Chemical & Biomolecular Eng. Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), U. of Illinois Urbana-C.

Quanbing Mou, Postdoc (Y. Lu), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Ananthan Nambiar, Bioengineering Ph.D. Candidate (Maslov) University of Illinois Urbana-C.

Thao Nguyen, Chemical and Biological Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Wühr), Princeton University

Viviana Nguyen, Bioengineering Ph.D. Candidate (T. Lu), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Congjian Ni, Biophysics and Quantum Biology Ph.D. Candidate (T. Lu), University of Ill. Urbana-C.

Michel Nofal, Postdoc (Rabinowitz), Princeton University

David Ollodart, Chemical and Biomolecular Eng. Ph.D. Candidate (Flaherty), U. of Illinois U.-C.

Greg Pawel, Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate (Y. Lu), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Partha Pratim Pandey, Postdoc (Maslov), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Vassily Petrov, Software Engineer (Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Priyanka, Postdoc (T. Lu), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Matthew Plutz, Chem. & Biomolecular Eng. Senior Research Scientist (Rao), U. of I. U.-C. Research profile >>>

Co-PI Nathan Price, Associate Director and Professor, Institute for Systems Biology

Lillia Ryazanova, Research Specialist (Wühr), Princeton University

Yusuke Sasaki, Postdoc (Yoshikuni), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Carl Schultz, Chemical and Biomolecular Eng. Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), U. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Vijay Shah, Chemical & Biomolecular Eng. Ph.D. Candidate (Flaherty), U. of Illinois Urbana-C.

Chengyou Shi, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), U. of Illinois U.-C.

Jamin Shin, Visiting Scholar (Jin), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tong Si, Postdoc (Sweedler/Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Research profile >>>

Jordan Sickle, Biophysics and Quantitative Biology Ph.D. Candidate (T. Lu), U. of Illinois U.-C.

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

Ramkrishna Singh, Postdoc (Singh), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Co-PI Saurabh Sinha, Prof. of Computer Science, Assoc. Prof. of Bioeng., University of Ill. Urbana-C.

Co-PI Patricia Slininger, Research Chem. Engineer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Peoria, IL

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

Liang Sun, Food Science & Human Nutrition Ph.D. Candidate (Jin), U. of Illinois Urbana-C.

Wan Sun, Microbiology Ph.D. Candidate (Shao), Iowa State University

Shayan Tabe Bordbar, Computer Science Ph.D. Candidate (Sinha), University of Ill. Urbana-C.

Ivy Tang, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), U. of Illinois Urbana-C.

Ipek Tasan, Postdoc (Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Qiqi (Sherry) Tian, Chemical & Biomolecular Eng. Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), U. of Illinois U.-C.

Narumi Toda, Visiting Scholar (Jin), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Payman Tohidifar, Postdoc (Rao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Vinh Tran, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), University of Ill. Urbana-Champaign

Mothi Viswanathan, Postdoc (Singh), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Lam Vo, Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Michael Volk, Chem. & Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), U. of Illinois U.-C.

Bo-Xun Wang, Chemical & Biological Eng. Ph.D. Candidate (Huber), U. of Wisconsin at Madison

Lin Wang, Postdoc (Rabinowitz), Princeton University

Xiaoyi Wang, Chemical & Biomolecular Ph.D. Candidate (Rao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Yajie Wang, Postdoc (Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Matthew Waugh, Postdoc (Y. Lu) University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Research profile >>>

Co-PI Martin Wühr, Asst. Prof. of Molecular Bio. / Lewis-Sigler Inst. for Integrative Genomics, Princeton U.

Tianxia Xiao, Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate (Rabinowitz), Princeton University

Hao Xu, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), U. of Illinois Urbana-C.

Mason Xue, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), University of Ill. Urbana-Champaign

Guanhua (Daniel) Xun, Bioengineering Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-C.

Qiang Yan, Postdoc (Pfleger), University of Wisconsin at Madison Research profile >>>

Zhenglin Yang, Biochemistry Ph.D. Candidate (Yi Lu), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tianhao Yu, Ph.D. Candidate (Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Danim Yun, Postdoc (Flaherty), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Research profile >>>

Co-PI Chengxiang Zhai, Professor of Computer Science, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Zhengyi Zhang, Postdoc (Zhao), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Zhongyao Zhang, Chem. and Biomolecular Eng. Ph.D. Candidate (Flaherty), U. of Illinois U.-C.

Yuxin Zhao, Visiting Scholar (Shao), Iowa State University

Shuaizhen Zhou, Postdoc (Sweedler), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Zhengyong Zhou, Food Science & Human Nutrition Ph.D. Candidate (Jin), U.of Illinois Urbana-C.