Speaker Biographies

Dr. Christopher Boddy

(This information will be updated in the near future).

Dr. Gjalt Huisman

Biography: Dr. Gjalt Huisman received his Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands for work on the microbial production of polyesters (PHAs) using recombinant Pseudomonas strains.  He continued his microbial physiological studies as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Roberto Kolter at Harvard Medical School developing new insights into gene expression in non-growing E. coli. From 1994-1998 he led the molecular biology group at Metabolix Inc. to develop robust, recombinant PHA manufacturing strains for the commercial production of biodegradable plastics.  In 1998, he joined Maxygen where he contributed to the company’s core shuffling technology portfolio as well as its application in projects for chemical and agricultural products.  In 2002, he continued the directed evolution journey with Codexis where he progressed through several positions leading to his current role of Vice-President, Pharma Technology and Innovation.  He led the teams that developed three biocatalysts for the commercial manufacture of hydroxynitrile, a key starting material for atorvastatin which was awarded the U.S. E.P.A. Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2006. Since then, Gjalt has led numerous teams to enable new biocatalytic processes for the commercial manufacture of multiple blockbuster pharmaceutical products.  In his current role, Gjalt is responsible for medicinal chemistry programs in which Codexis’ technology is applied to generate new small molecule drug candidates as well as potential new biologics.

Dr. Amnon Kohen

Biography: Amnon Kohen is Professor of Chemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Iowa. He trained in Chemistry at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, B.Sc. 1989, The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, D.Sc. 1994, and as Postdoctoral Scholar in The University of California at Berkeley 1999. He served on the faculty of the Department of Chemistry in The University of Iowa since then. His group investigates the catalytic mechanisms of enzymes and the physical features of their function, with implications on C-H bond activations. Special aspects include enzyme evolution, drug resistance, enzyme dynamics, hydrogen quantum tunneling, DNA biosynthesis, and more.

Dr. Connie Lu

Biography: Connie Lu was born in Taipei, Taiwan and grew up in Miami, Florida, USA.  She received her B.S. in Chemistry from MIT, where she got hooked on inorganic synthesis. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Caltech in 2006 under the guidance of Professor Jonas Peters. As a postdoctoral associate with Professor Karl Wieghardt at the Max Planck Institute for Bioinorganic Chemistry, she studied the coordination chemistry of ligand radicals. In 2009, she began her independent career as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She has received the NSF Career Award and is an Alfred P. Sloan fellow. Her current research focuses on creating and understanding metal-metal bonding between first-row transition metals, as well as developing earth-abundant catalysts for reducing small molecules.

Dr. Yi Lu

Biography: Dr. Yi Lu received his B.S. degree from Peking University in 1986, and Ph.D. degree from University of California at Los Angeles in 1992 under Professor Joan S. Valentine. After two years of postdoctoral research in Professor Harry B. Gray group at the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Lu started his own independent career in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 1994. He is now Jay and Ann Schenck Professor of Chemistry in the Departments of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Bioengineering and Materials Science and Engineering. He is also a member of the Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology and Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. His research interests lie at the interface between chemistry and biology. His group is developing new chemical approaches to provide deeper insight into biological systems. At the same time, they take advantage of recently developed biological tools to advance many areas in chemistry. Specific areas of current interests include a) design and engineering of functional metalloproteins as environmentally benign catalysis in renewable energy generation and pharmaceuticals; b) Fundamental understanding of DNAzymes and their applications in environmental monitoring, medical diagnostics, and targeted drug delivery; and c) Employing principles from biology for directed assembly of nanomaterials with controlled morphologies and its applications in imaging and medicine. Dr. Lu has received numerous research and teaching awards, including the Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2007), Early Career Award, Society of Biological Inorganic Chemistry (2007), Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor Award (2002), Camile Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (1999), Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (1998), Research Corporation Cottrell Scholars Award (1997), and the Beckman Young Investigators Award (1996). (http://www.chemistry.illinois.edu/faculty/yi_lu.html)

Dr. Shelley Minteer

Biography:  Dr. Shelley Minteer is a USTAR Professor in both the Departments of Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Utah. She received her PhD in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Iowa in 2000 under the direction of Professor Johna Leddy. After receiving her PhD, she spent 11 years as a faculty in the Department of Chemistry at Saint Louis University before moving to the University of Utah in 2011. She is also a Technical Editor for the Journal of the Electrochemical Society. She has published greater than 175 publications and greater than 300 presentations at national and international conferences and universities. She has won several awards including the Missouri Inventor of the Year, International Society of Electrochemistry Tajima Prize, Fellow of the Electrochemical Society, and the Society of the Electroanalytical Chemists' Young Investigator Award. In 2003, she co-founded Akermin, Inc. with her previous graduate student, which has focused on the commercialization of her biobattery technology and has moved on to commercializing carbon capture technology. Her research interests are focused on electrocatalysis and bioanalytical electrochemistry. She has expertise in bioelectrochemistry and bioelectrocatalysis for biosensors and biofuel cells.

Dr. Yi Tang

Biography: Yi Tang received his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering and Material Science from Penn State University.  He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from California Institute of Technology under the guidance of Prof. David A. Tirrell.  After NIH postdoctoral training in Chemical Biology from Prof. Chaitan Khosla at Stanford University, he started his independent career at University of California Los Angeles in 2004.  He is currently the Chancellor Professor at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UCLA, and holds joint appointments in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; and Department of Bioengineering.  His lab is interested in identifying new enzymes from the biosynthetic pathways of polyketides, nonribosomal peptides, terpenoids, alkaloids and hybrid compounds.   His group is also interested in combining enzyme discovery and protein engineering towards the green synthesis of important pharmaceuticals.

His recent awards include the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Allan P. Colburn Award (2009), the ACS Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (2012), the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2012), NIH DP1 Director Pioneer Award (2012) and the ACS Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry (2014).