Hansen Tjo

HMEI-STEP Fellow 2023
Chemical and Biological Engineering

HMEI-STEP Topic: Land Use Impacts of Lignocellulose-derived Ethanol Production on Corn Farming

HMEI-STEP Adviser: David Wilcove

Thesis Topic: Advancing Genetic and Metabolic Engineering Strategies for Cellulosic Biofuels Production in Caldicellulosiruptor bescii

Thesis Adviser: Jonathan Conway

I am a 3rd-year PhD candidate under Prof. Jonathan Conway in the CBE Department. My dissertation research focuses on developing genome-editing and metabolic engineering tools in lignocellulose-degrading, non-model thermophiles. By lowering barriers to the manipulation of their metabolic pathways, such non-model microbes can be rapidly deployed in industrial contexts as next-generation cell factories for renewable biofuels and biochemicals production.

I am also interested in the policy implications of a sustainable bioeconomy reliant on lignocellulose feedstocks. Under Prof. David Wilcove in SPIA, my STEP research explores how farmland currently used for growing corn-ethanol can be "freed up" for conservation as a result of increasing utilization of corn stover, the lignocellulosic component of corn, made possible by advances in microbial engineering.