Lab Members


Graduate Students

Matthew Wong

Education

B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware, 2016
Ph.D. Chemical and Biological Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Expected May 2021

Project

My research project is the cell-free production of biofuels. The goal is to optimize an immobilized system of enzymes to convert a cellular intermediate to the alcohol, Isobutanol. I am also researching membrane pervaporation to take the reaction broth and separate out Isobutanol. For this project, I am being co-advised by Dr. Koffas and Dr. Belfort.

Research Interests

My research interests lie in the development of biofuels for a sustainable future.

Future Plans

To pursue a career in the biotechnology industry.


Alex Connor

Education

B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, 2018
Ph.D. Chemical and Biological Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Expected May 2023

Project

My project focuses on the de novo design and multispecies production of recombinant silk proteins. Multiple microbial platforms and mechanisms are investigated, including promoter downregulation, employment of chaperone proteins, and secretion, for the goal of improved production of structural, repetitive recombinant proteins. In addition, I seek to characterize how the design of a recombinant construct affects production efficiency. My work also aims to develop a novel microbial upcycling platform for the production of biomaterials from a plastic waste feedstock.

Research Interests

My research interests include the recombinant production of protein-based biomaterials in bacteria, microbial secretion of recombinant constructs, microbial upcycling, the characterization of synthetic silk and elastin-like proteins, and designing peptides for coatings applications within the food industry.

Awards

First Place in New York State, AgTech Track, New York State Business Plan Competition, 2021 First Place, NSF I-Corps Capital Region Business Plan Competition, 2020 Semifinalist, Heartland Challenge Business Plan Competition, 2021 Semifinalist, Cardinal Challenge Business Plan Competition, 2021

Future Plans

I plan to pursue a career centered on founding, managing, and investing in start-ups that leverage recombinant technologies and biomaterials applications.


Adeola Awofiranye

Education

B.S. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Houston Baptist University, 2018
Ph.D. Biology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Expected May 2022

Project

I am currently co-advised by Prof. Robert J. Linhardt and Prof M. Koffas. My project involves the metabolic engineering of various glycosaminoglycans using E. coli.

Research Interests

My primary interest involves using metabolic engineering to produce useful pharmaceuticals.

Future Plans

I intend to pursue a career in a pharmaceutical or biotechnology industry.


Alex Perl

Education

B.S. Biophysics, Brown University, 2018
Ph.D. Biochemistry and Biophysics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Expected May 2022

Project

I am currently advised by Prof M. Koffas. My project involves the dynamic regulation of metabolic pathways. My project focuses on gene regulation by combining two established techniques in metabolic engineering: the toehold switch and CRISPR-Cas9 system. We have modified the CRISPR-Cas9 system to locate a specific gene of interest on a metabolic pathway, and be able to bring a piece of messenger RNA called a toehold switch to bind to the gene. When an endogenous piece of RNA called a Trigger is introduced to the system, it disrupts the chemical interaction of the toehold switch allowing for the modified Cas9 enzyme to inhibit transcription.

Research Interests

My primary interests involves genetic and metabolic engineering.

Future Plans

I intend to pursue a career in the biotechnology industry.


Jon Hudson



Josh Finkelstein

Education

B.S. Chemical Engineering, Northeastern University, 2018
Ph.D. Chemical and Biological Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Expected May 2025

Project

My focus is the development of production strains and process design for the synthesis of succinic acid using an electrochemical bioreactor.

Research Interests

I am interested in the function of complex biological systems and the creation of methods for manipulating those systems to achieve a desired outcome.

Future Plans

I plan to pursue a career in developing biomanufacturing processes and methods for accelerating research and development.


Saurabh Rastogi

Education

B.Tech. Biotechnology, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi, India, 2019
Ph.D. Chemical and Biological Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Expected December 2025

Project

I am being co-advised by Prof. Mattheos Koffas and Prof. Jonathan Dordick. My current project goals include the study of enzyme kinetics and protein engineering to develop an in situ reducing cofactor regeneration system for cell-free biosynthesis.

Research Interests

I am primarily driven towards metabolic engineering and protein engineering approaches for translational research.

Future Plans

I plan to work in the industry to develop more efficient, sustainable, scalable and economical therapeutics.


Postdoctoral Fellows

Manish Rai


Anarul Hoque


Undergraduate Students
Kavita Ramnath


Others
William Lawler

Education

B.S. Electrical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2017

Project

I am currently focused on the development of software to simulate production strains and process design for the synthesis of succinic acid using an electrochemical bioreactor. I also conduct research in robotic automation with the RPI Manufacturing Innovation Center.

Research Interests

I am interested in the function of complex biological systems and the creation of methods for manipulating those systems to achieve a desired outcome. As well as the design of recombinant proteins using simulated molecular models.

Future Plans

I plan to pursue a PhD in Biochemistry