- Advisor: Junyoung Park
- Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Campus: UCLA
- BioPACIFIC MIP Research: SET 1 - Bioderived Materials
What is your research focus?
Terpenoids are a class of natural products that are polymers of the 5-carbon starter units isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP). Terpenoids can be linear or cyclized hydrocarbons, and many terpenoid natural products are further functionalized. These functional groups can serve as chemical handles for further chemical reactions and thus, terpenoids represent a panoply of chemical diversity for potential polymer production. My research will be focused on developing a yeast-based platform for efficient bio-based production of terpenoids that have industrial relevance as polymers.
This past year in my BioPACIFIC MIP-related work, I have engineered a strain of Y. lipolytica with increased production of mevalonate, the precursor to IPP and DMAPP. I have also expressed heterologous terpenoid pathways, both natural and combinatorial, into Y. lipolytica. I am currently working on maximizing heterologous production of aspterric acid as well as a new-to-nature terpenoid diacid, both which functionality amenable to polymerization. I plant to quantify metabolic flux through the pathway to determine rate limiting steps and guide rational design for further pathway optimization.
My research overlaps with SET 1, as I am interested in engineering yeast to discover, optimize, and produce new monomers with terpenoids and consider potential polymerization through various enzymatic oxidations. Furthermore, with my research I hope to utilize recent advances in synthetic biology, computational metabolomics, and automation to scale up production of novel terpenoids without the utilization of petroleum or other non-renewable sources. I am excited to continue working with the Living Biofoundry to helps with these processes.
What excites you about NSF BioPACIFIC MIP?
The BioPACIFIC MIP training has and will continue provide an excellent interdisciplinary platform for me to engage in. I have enjoyed engaging with various researchers from UCLA and UCSB involved in BioPacific, as some have led to talks for exciting collaborations, as materials and synthetic chemistry can be complementary to my metabolic engineering for chemoenzymatic synthesis of sustainable materials. Thus, the many different fields represented in BioPacific will allow me to not only gain a greater understanding and scope of related fields, but also allow me to contribute to fruitful joint efforts in sustainability. Furthermore, connections with industry will allow me to ground my research in producing bio-based polymers that have industrial applications. The high-throughput and automated instrumentation will also allow me to conduct more experiments and scale up reactions to an industrial scale, further augmenting my research and tailoring it towards industrial relevance, and this will be accompanied by the educational programs that will help with industrial experimental design and mentality. I have worked a bit designing protocols for the Living Biofoundry and would like to continue to do that as my research progresses and requires more high throughput work.