Brian Pfleger, a synthetic biologist and metabolic engineer from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, stepped into the #LabChat to answer questions about his work developing advanced biofuels. Moderating the #LabChat was John Greenler, director of education and outreach for the center.
Storified by Energy Department ·
Thu, Sep 27 2012 14:48:51
Let's start off by parsing his title. Is he a biologist or an engineer?
Your interests include synthetic biology. Can you what that means in simple terms? #LabChat
Ask 10 synbio rschers=9 different answers! In short, making complex living systems from nucleic acids & recombinant DNA tech #LabChat
He's both, really. Synthetic biology is a new(er) form of biological research that combines science and engineering. As a synthetic biologist, you might approach one these "complex living systems" with the eye of a biologist, chemist and engineer.
@GLBioenergy How did the summer's drought affect thinking about future biofuels? #LabChat
It emphasizes the need for engineering drought-resistant crops & ag water mgmt practices #LabChat
Synbio used to devo energy-rich plants, improved traits (eg drought-resistance) faster enzymes, metabolic pthwys to adv biofuels #LabChat
1. Engineering plants like switchgrass to store more sugar (developing energy-rich plants)
What modeling/simulation tools do you use in biofuel R&D? Is there open source development? #LabChat
Many sim techs. In my lab we use genome-scale metabolic models, kinetic models of cell behavior & technoecon process models #LabChat
As Tim Donohue mentioned, it takes all these people to eventually commercialize advanced biofuels for the biofuels mission.
These processes are neither the beginning nor end of the road to the future of biofuel. But we understand their role better thanks to Brian Pfleger and John Greenler joining us for our latest #LabChat.