Katherine Chou

Katherine Chou


Research Activity per Year


Personal Profile

Katherine Chou's research uses biological systems to maximize production of valuable products (e.g., H2) from renewable waste materials, including plant biomass and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). Performing targeted functions by genetically engineering non-native biochemical pathways within bacterial strains is integral to Katherine's research.

A main research objective includes understanding the inherent factors constraining a bacterial cell to perform a targeted function. A broad question Katherine strives to answer is how cellular resources in the form of electrons and energy (e.g., adenosine triphosphate) are utilized and limiting. She approaches this question by:

Tracking the carbon flux among the biochemical pathways inside the cells

Developing synthetic biology tools (e.g., riboswitches) to control gene expression in novel microorganisms and enable metabolic control

Elucidating the inherent gene regulatory networks that collectively give rise to a desired phenotype as well as imposing constraints on cellular processes.

Research Interests

Hydrogen (H2) metabolism in thermophilic and anaerobic bacteria

Microbial conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to H2, biofuels, and biochemicals

Metabolic engineering

Adaptive laboratory evolution

Characterization of gene regulatory networks

Developing dynamic control of gene expression for strain engineering of novel microorganisms

Synthetic biology

One carbon (C1) metabolism

Bacterial physiology and strain development

Metabolic engineering with synthetic biology approaches

Systems biology

H2 metabolism in anaerobic bacteria

Characterization of gene regulatory networks

Professional Experience

Staff Scientist, National Renewable Energy Laboratory—Biosciences Center (2013–present)

Postdoctoral Researcher, National Renewable Energy Laboratory—Biosciences Center (2010–2013)

Education/Academic Qualification

PhD, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of California Los Angeles

Master, Chemical Engineering, University of California Los Angeles

Bachelor, Chemical Engineering with Bioengineering Option, University of California Los Angeles


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