ASU Engineering | Nielsen Lab


Who we are

We are a team of engineers and scientists focused on developing novel biotechnologies for efficiently converting renewable feedstocks into a variety of sustainable fuel and chemical products.  We work at the interface of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, while also incorporating key elements of industrial and applied microbiology, ‘re-programming’ microorganisms to carry out various functions of interest. Current applications include engineering novel biosynthetic pathways, expanding catabolic range and capacity, improving strain robustness, and enhancing other traits of industrial importance.  Learn more…


Research Areas


Novel pathway engineeringpathwaymap

Strain optimization

Product tolerance

Adaptive laboratory evolution



New strain engineering toolssynbio


Dynamic control

Synthetic microbial communities



Integrated bioreactorsFigure 1 - Overview

Product separation


Process modeling and optimization


Recent News & Announcements

Presenting research at SIMB Annual Meeting

Several of our projects were presented as posters at the 2017 SIMB Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.  Andrew Flores and Gavin Kurgan (from Xuan Wang's group) presented results from our collaborative projects, and Brian Thompson's work on muconic acid was presented as...

Newly Minted Ph.D.s!

A huge congrats to Drs. Thompson and Staggs, our two most recent Ph.D. grads, both of whom successfully defended their respective theses last week!  We wish you luck as you head off to bigger and better things!

New NSF Project Awarded

We are excited to be kicking off a new NSF project entitled 'Biological Auto-Enhancement of CO2 Absorption for Improved Cyanobacterial Growth and Biofuel Production'!   This 3-year grant was awarded through CBET - Energy for Sustainability and the SusChEM programs.

Congrats 2017 CHE Graduates!

Congrats to our undergraduate researchers Chris Gregson, Zeynep Ayla, and Kaleigh Johnson, as well as the rest of the Class of 2017!  Kaleigh received the special honor of being selected as the Outstanding Graduate of the entire Fulton Schools of Engineering.  Grad...

New DOE project coming soon!

We are part of a team recently selected for biofuels funding by the DOE (BETO 'Bioincubator'). This project will engineer cyanobacteria for the photosynthetic production of ethyl laurate - a biodiesel replacement. Read more about the project, as well as another...

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