Organizing Committee

Kevin Redding, Conference Chair

Kevin Redding received a B.A. in biochemistry from Rice University in 1987. He obtained a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Stanford University in 1993, working with Robert Fuller on the mechanism of cellular localization of a yeast Golgi protein. He was a postdoctoral fellow working on structure/function relationships in Photosystem I in the research group of Jean-David Rochaix at the University of Geneva in Switzerland from 1994 to 1998, during which time he was supported by an NSF Plant Biology fellowship and a Human Frontiers in Science fellowship. He started his academic career at the University of Alabama in 1998, received a DuPont Young Professor award and NSF CAREER award. After a one-year stint at the Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique in Paris as a Fulbright Scholar, he joined ASU in 2008. He is a full professor and now serves as the Director of the Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis. His current research interests include structure/function studies of photosynthetic reaction centers, re-engineering photosynthetic electron transfer, and fundamental processes in heliobacteria.

Jesus Badillo

Dr. Badillo is a Professor in the Department of Bioprocesses at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional of México. His recent work has focused on use of algae for waste water treatment, recombinant protein expression, and biofuel production. His research group has developed new techniques for mRNA imaging in algae, analysis of metabolic networks, and identification of biologically active peptides.

Tom Beatty

Dr. Beatty is a Professor in the Dept. of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of British Colombia. His laboratory’s research activities are centered on the general areas of bacterial molecular biology, physiology and genetics, with an emphasis on the regulation of gene expression, and protein structure and function. Some of the techniques used are molecular cloning, gene fusions, site-directed mutagenesis, RNA analyses, and purification of proteins.

Don Bryant

Bryant is a microbial (eco)physiologist, who has rigorously applied genomics, genetics, biochemistry, and molecular biology to study chlorophototrophs—Cyanobacteria, Chloroflexi, Chlorobi, and Acidobacteria—for 45 years. He has seminally contributed to understanding phototrophic ecosystems, phycobiliprotein biogenesis, chlorophyll and carotenoid biosynthesis, structure-function of light-harvesting complexes (phycobilisomes, chlorosomes), and type-1 reaction centers.

Fiona Davies

Fiona Davies received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Otago in New Zealand in 2008, studying the assembly and repair processes of PSII in cyanobacteria under the guidance of Prof. Julian Eaton-Rye. Between 2009 and 2012 she completed postdoctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley in the research group of Prof. Anastasios Melis, where she employed cyanobacteria as a photosynthetic platform for the production of industrially-relevant terpenoid hydrocarbons. After moving to work with Prof. Matthew Posewitz at Colorado School of Mines in 2012, Fiona continues to focus on cyanobacterial bioengineering for renewable chemical production and is now a Research Assistant Professor. Fiona is also a Senior Research Scientist for Living Ink Technologies, a biomaterials company on a mission to use sustainable algae technologies to replace petroleum-derived ink products.

Woodward Fischer

Professor of Geobiology in Geological and Planetary Sciences. PhD Harvard University. BA Colorado College. I’m often called by my nickname, Woody. My research generally falls in the discipline of Geobiology—combining techniques from field geology, analytical chemistry, and biology— to understand and explore the relationships between of life and Earth surface environments through diverse and fundamental transitions in Earth history. Much of this effort is to understand and contextualize key steps in the redox history of our planet, including the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis and rise of atmospheric oxygen.

John Golbeck

Dr. John Golbeck is Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at The Pennsylvania State University. He received his B.S. in Chemistry from Valparaiso University, and his Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from Indiana University, the latter under the supervision of Prof. Anthony San Pietro. His postdoctoral studies were carried out at Martin Marietta Laboratories, Baltimore, MD, with the biophysicist Dr. Bessel Kok. Prof. Golbeck spent sabbatical leaves at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1984), the Centre d’Etudes Nucl´eaires de Saclay (1991/2), the Freie Universität, Berlin (2002/3), and Brock University (2017/8). He is an Emeritus Fellow of the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany. His research interests include the protein factors that confer thermodynamic properties to organic and inorganic cofactors, the structural composition of homodimeric and heterodimeric Type I reaction centers from cyanobacteria and anaerobic bacteria, the composition of electrically conductive bacterial nanowires, the modification of halorhodopsin to pump alternative anions, and the modification of Photosystem I to produce biohybrid devices. Prof. Golbeck is a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Biophysical Society, and the International Society for Photosynthesis Research.

Beverly Green

Dr. Green is a Professor in the Dept. of Botany at the University of British Colombia.. Her research areas include (1) genomics, molecular evolution and chloroplast protein import in algae with chlorophyll c (diatoms, dinoflagellates and other chromists); (20 evolution of genes for light-harvesting antenna proteins and their stress-induced relatives; (3) photoacclimation in diatoms; and (4) replication and transcription of minicircular chloroplast genes in dinoflagellates.

Arthur Grossman

Dr. Grossman is at the Department of Plant Biology in the Carnegie Institution for Science, located at Stanford University. His research group has explored areas ranging from identifying new functions associated with photosynthetic processes, the mechanism(s) of coral bleaching and the impact of temperature and light on the bleaching process, metagenomic and genomic diversity among primary producers in hot spring mats, metabolic switching in mat communities (going from oxic to anoxic conditions), the regulation of sulfur metabolism in green algae and plants, the use of nanoelectrodes and atomic force microscopy to probe the structure and dynamics of the photosynthetic apparatus, and pathways for photosynthetic electron flow in photosynthetic microbes in marine and fresh water environments. They have also devoted significant effort toward generating a more thorough analysis of the Chlamydomonas genome and establishing various methods for examining the transcriptome and the function of proteins involved in photosynthesis and acclimation processes.

David Kehoe

David Kehoe received his B.A. in zoology from the University of Washington, then was awarded a Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship at the University of Tokyo for a year to study molecular microbiology in 1986. He completed his Ph.D. in plant molecular biology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1992, working with Elain Tobin on the elucidation of the signal transduction pathway controlling phytochrome regulation of light harvesting gene expression. In 1993 he joined the laboratory of Arthur Grossman in the Carnegie Institution of Plant Biology at Stanford University as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Plant Biology, studying the responses of cyanobacterial light harvesting systems to changes in ambient light color. He joined the Biology Department at Indiana University in 1998, where he is a full professor. He was named a HHMI/United States National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences in 2010 and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology of the ASM in 2015. His current research focuses on elucidating molecular and biochemical mechanisms underlying light sensing pathways in a globally abundant marine cyanobacteria.

Cheryl Kerfield

Cheryl A. Kerfeld is the Hannah Distinguished Professor of Structural Bioengineering in the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Michigan State University. She also holds appointments with the Physical Biosciences Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Berkeley Synthetic Biology Institute. Her research group (www.kerfeldlab.org) focuses on structure-based characterization and engineering of photoprotection and the carbon concentrating mechanism in cyanobacteria; her group is also developing bacterial microcompartment-based systems for metabolic engineering.

Kris Niyogi

Dr. Niyogi is a Professor in the Dept. of Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. His long-term research goals are to understand how photosynthetic energy conversion works, how it is regulated, and how it might be improved to help meet the world’s needs for food and fuel. His group uses a wide array of experimental organisms and interdisciplinary approaches to investigate fundamental questions about assembly, regulation, and dynamics of photosynthesis. Current lab members study the biosynthesis and function of photosynthetic pigments, assembly of photosynthetic reaction centers, structure and dynamics of the photosynthetic membrane, mechanisms involved in sensing excess light, and regulation of photosynthetic light harvesting in saturating light. By comparing how photosynthesis works in diverse organisms, they hope to uncover general design principles of natural photosynthesis as well as unique adaptations to different environments.

Himadri Pakrasi

Himadri B. Pakrasi, Ph. D., is currently the Myron and Sonya Glassberg/Albert and Blanche Greensfelder Distinguished University Professor and Director of the International Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (InCEES) at Washington University in St. Louis. He holds faculty appointments in the Department of Biology, School of Arts & Sciences and as a Professor of Energy in the School of Engineering & Applied Science. Professor Pakrasi has been an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at Munich University, Germany; a Distinguished Fellow at the Biosciences Institute, Nagoya University, Japan; and a Lady David Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science as well as of the American Society for Microbiology. Pakrasi serves as the Washington University ambassador from the McDonnell International Scholars Academy to the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India.

Pakrasi is a biochemist recognized for his work on photosynthesis and bioenergy production. He has a keen interest in bridging the differences between the biological and physical sciences, and has led large-scale multi-institutional systems biology projects. Key areas of interest are systems biology, photosynthesis and synthetic biology.

Graham Peers

Nearly every biome on earth relies on photosynthesis to supply energy to its communities. While we are more familiar with the vascular plants that dominate the terrestrial environment, the algae rule aquatic systems. There is incredible diversity within the algae and they have evolved separately from plants (and in some cases from each other) for more than a billion years. My research explores this variety and strives to discover how the processes of photosynthesis differ between groups. The goals for the lab are to make discoveries that A) explain how it is that algae thrive in the face of abiotic stress and environmental adversity & B) to translate these discoveries to the challenge of increasing crop production. My lab uses a combination of model organisms that are amenable to genetic manipulation (such as Chlamydomonas, Synechocystis and Phaeodactylum). We identify proteins required for photosynthesis or photoprotection using forward or reverse genetics and investigate their specific roles using a combination of physiological, biochemical and -omics based observations. For more details about recent work and publications please visit our lab’s webpage!

Matthew Posewitz

Dr. Posewitz is an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Chemistry at the Colorado School of Mines. His group studies the diverse portfolio of bioenergy carriers that can be obtained from algae including hydrogen, lipids for transformation into diesel fuel surrogates, and starch and osmolytes for conversion into alcohols, lipids or hydrogen. Micro-algae have among the highest photosynthetic conversion efficiencies documented, are able to thrive in salt water, and are among the most metabolically versatile organisms known. Currently, their projects include the study of (a) hydrogenase enzymes and the production of hydrogen from phototrophic micro-organisms, (b) starch and lipid metabolisms in algae, (c) ‘omics’ based approaches applied to defining whole cell metabolic and regulatory pathways, (d) the diversity of water-oxidizing phototrophs that are adapted to saline ecosystems, and (e) the enzymatic control of metabolic flux in algae. Tehir research is firmly entrenched in developing a more informed understanding of central metabolism in these fascinating organisms, which can hopefully be applied in viable bioenergy technologies.

Alexandra Worden

Prof. Worden leads a microbial ecology research group at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, a non-profit organization focused on the intersection of oceanographic science and technology development. Her research focuses on photoautotrophic microbes and integrates across genomics, evolutionary biology and ecology to explore microbial roles in CO2 fixation and fate. Her group develops methods and technologies for systems biology and sea-going studies of unicellular eukaryotes and to quantify their contributions to global primary production and activities in the deep ocean. Her lab also studies the evolution of the land plant ancestor. Worden is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg (HWK) Institute for Advanced Study, and a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Marine Investigator.

Jianping Yu

Jianping Yu is a staff scientist at National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He received Ph.D. degree from Michigan State University in 1997. His research focus on cyanobacteria, and involves photosynthetic electron transport, carbon and nitrogen metabolism, and biotechnology.

Student and Postdoc Committee

Preston Dilbeck

Preston Dilbeck is a Research Associate at Michigan State University’s DOE Plant Research Laboratory.  He received a Ph. D in Microbiology, Cell and Molecular Biology from Oklahoma State University in 2012 where he worked in the laboratory of Professor Robert Burnap and studied how the proton exit pathway of Photosystem II affects its water oxidation mechanism.  He then began work as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the laboratory of Professor Dewey Holten at Washington University in St. Louis.  There he studied the transfer of energy between pigments in modified LH2 light harvesting complexes.  He is currently researching the regulation and function of homologs of the orange carotenoid protein in the cyanobacterium Fremyella diplosiphon in the laboratory of Beronda Montgomery.

Marina Klemencic

Marina Klemencic finished her PhD in 2013 after which she joined a group of prof. Marko Dolinar at the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical technology University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, where she was involved in research involving biochemistry and molecular biology of biotechnologically interesting cyanobacteria for their use as green factories. She was a Post-doc in prof. Christiane Funk’s group at the Umea University, Sweden, focusing on functional and structural aspects of metacaspases and orthocaspases, homologues of caspases in algae and cyanobacteria. She is now continuing with her career at University of Ljubljana and is currently involved in research involving biochemical in vivo and in vitro characterisation of various proteases involved in cell-stress response and cell death mechanisms in unicellular photosynthetic organisms.

Gábor Méhes

Gábor Méhes is an MSCA Seal of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics in Linköping University, Sweden (2015 onwards). He is focusing on interfacing photosynthetic plant membranes and photosynthetic-and non-photosynthetic bacteria with electrodes for current-and energy harvesting and sensing. In 2017 GM was a visiting postdoc at the Molecular Foundry, Berkeley Lab. Prior to this research, GM worked on the characterization of light-emitting molecules in organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) in Fukuoka IST, Japan, and Kyushu University, Japan (PhD in 2014). Before his PhD research, GM was an electrical engineer in Sony Slovakia and a research assistant in bionic optical detection in Industrial Recognition Technologies, Slovakia (MSc. in electrical engineering from Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, 2008).

Amy Zheng

Amy Zheng is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Vanderbilt University under the supervision of Professor Jamey Young. Her research involves the use of metabolic flux analysis to study the metabolism of photoautotrophic organisms. She received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Kansas in 2017.