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Advancing Adaptive Laboratory Evolution (ALE) for the Next-Generation Biomanufacturing


   Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering


Sheffield United Kingdom Chemical Engineering Environmental Engineering Microbiology

About the Project

Future manufacturing of chemicals, fuels, energy, materials, and drug therapeutics will be circular, sustainable, and biological at its heart. Microbes are increasingly applied as cellular factories for manufacturing from bio-based or renewable energy and carbon feedstocks. However, Nature has not evolved microbes for industrial-scale applications. More often than not, the properties of microbes (e.g., carbon repertoire, tolerance to inhibitors) would require fine-tuning in order to develop economically viable bioprocesses.

Adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE) is a proven technique for microbial optimization, leveraging the power of evolution (i.e., Survival of the Fittest). Through genome sequencing of adapted strains, it also generates big data directly contributing to our understanding of the rules of life. However, ALE can be slow and resource intensive. In this project, the candidate can choose to tackle this challenge from either an engineering or a biological angle. The former involves developing novel microbial cultivation system and software to advance ALE. The latter concerns developing novel molecular biology tools to create genetic diversity for evolution.

During the project, the candidate will receive training at the interface of engineering and biological sciences. The candidate will gain expertise in the areas of industrial biotechnology. The candidate will also benefit from the resources, supports, and training from the Engineering Graduate School, the Faculty and the Departmental Employability Teams, allowing the candidate to develop themselves into a future leader in bioeconomy.

For more information about the research conducted in Wong and Tee research groups, please visit:

Wong Research Group: https://www.wongbiomanufacturing.com/.

Tee Research Group: https://sites.google.com/sheffield.ac.uk/kanglanteelab/.

Please see this link for information on how to apply: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/cbe/postgraduate/phd/how-apply. Please include the name of your proposed supervisor and the title of the PhD project within your application.

Applicants must have achieved or expect to achieve a 1st class or 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline in Chemical/Biochemical/Environmental Engineering, Bioscience/Microbiology/Molecular Biology or Chemistry. If English is not your first language then you must have an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) average of 6.5 or above with at least 6.0 in each component, or equivalent. Please see this link for further information: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/phd/apply/english-language.


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