Finding paths for sustainable energy production is one of the foremost challenges as worldwide demand is quickly growing and increased concern of climate effect due to increased concentration of greenhouse gasses. One promising direction, especially for production of liquid transportation fuels, is re-engineering the metabolism of microbes like baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to convert sugar into a chemical with desirable biofuel characteristics. A chief challenge is not only in building the metabolic pathway for performing this conversion but also making this conversion efficient while maintaining a healthy cell. I will describe work being done to produce biofuels using the rapidly emerging approaches of Synthetic Biology.
John Dueber is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley. His research interest focuses on employing protein engineering and synthetic biology approaches to gain designable control over biological systems. He is particularly interested in bioenergy applications with the desire to develop strategies that can also be generalized to other applications. He was the 2012 winner of the US Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Award.
The East Bay Science Café is an informal forum for discussing interesting and relevant scientific issues. The goal is to encourage public engagement with science by inviting members of the scientific community to present topics for a casual evening of conversation. Cafés may vary in length and format depending upon the speaker and the topic. Audience questions are encouraged both during and after! The East Bay Science Café is brought to you by the University of California Berkeley Natural History Museums and Science@Cal!