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I received my Ph.D. degree (2000) in the Department of Genetic Engineering of Kyungpook National University, Republic of Korea. My postdoctoral research involves many interesting areas of Biomolecular Engineering, including Biocatalysis, Metabolic Engineering, and Enzyme Engineering. The varied projects, such as cyclodextrin glycosyltransferase engineering, metabolic engineering of polyhydroxyalkanoate biosynthesis (PHA) pathway, enzymatic chiral resolution of 2-arylpropionic acids, provided me rich opportunities to grow my technical skills and expertise in Biomolecular Engineering. Prior to joining Dr. Chen's group, I worked as a research professor, and in addition to research, I lectured on Molecular Biotechnology, Enzyme Engineering, Biochemical Engineering, and Applied Microbiology in several universities. Since joining Dr. Chen's group, I have been primarily involved in enzyme discovery, gene cloning and expression, and bioconversion of lignocellulose to value-added bioproducts. The projects involve cellulase and hemicellulase sytems and biofuel production. So far, I have co-authored 51 papers, 12 patents, and 1 book chapter.
Current Research Interests:
One of our efforts is directed toward the utilization of abundant renewable sources as basis for valuable products. For example, one project involves using xylan as chemical feedstock. Xylan, a major constituent of hemicellulose, is the second most abundant renewable resource. Xylans are ß-1,4-linked polymers of D-xylopyranose substituted with acetyl, arabinofuranoside, glcuronosyl residues and phenolic groups such as ferulic and p -coumaric acids. My efforts, as well as others' of the group, have led to the discovery of several novel microbial feruloyl esterases and other hemicellulases, which are potentially useful in production of vanillin, xylose, xylooligosaccharide, and other valuable products from hemicellulose. Another interesting project involves using cellulose for ethanol production. Due to its insolubility and heterogeneity, cellulose (the most abundant renewable resource), is recalcitrant for enzymatic hydrolysis. Our research will focus on a unique extracellular multienzyme complex, called cellulosome, and bioconversion of lignocellulose, such as softwood and corn stover, to bioethanol by the combined processes of enzyme hydrolysis and fermentation. This system not only provides an efficient way to break down cellulose, but the self-assembled protein nanostructure could also be developed as multi-functional therapeutic agents and for other biotechnological applications.