Department Calendar of Events

Microbes are the same but different: Incorporating microbial ecophysiology into environmental bioprocess engineering @ Zoom
Mar 31 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

BioZone will be hosting Professor Ryan Ziels, from the Department of Civil Engineering, at the University of British Columbia on Thursday, March 31st from 3 pm – 4:30 pm.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Ryan Ziels is an Assistant Professor within the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of British Columbia, with appointments in the Genome Sciences and Technology Training Program and the Environmental Engineering Program at UBC. His research focuses on the role of microbial communities in converting waste materials into high-value resources, such as bioenergy, nutrients, and clean water, to promote a circular economy. He combines multi-omic sequencing with biological process modeling and fundamental engineering design to elucidate mechanisms of nutrient and carbon flow within engineered microbiomes. Recently, his research has focused on new approaches to map microbial metabolic networks within sustainable environmental biotechnologies by quantitatively measuring in situ function and activity.

Join Zoom Meeting ID: 839 7592 7179Passcode: 054682

For more information about the series:Contact Sofia Bonilla; or Olan Raji;

LLE: New Processes and Bioproducts via Enzyme Catalysis (Anne Meyer, Technical University of Denmark) @ Zoom
Apr 6 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

External members are required to register to receive the link and passcode. Registration closed at 9am on April 4.

Anne Meyer, Technical University of Denmark

Host: Prof. Emma Master


From the discovery of new enzymes for seaweed processing, over kinetic studies of plastic degrading enzymes, to engineering of glycoside hydrolases for synthesis of human milk oligosaccharides: The key point is always to understand how enzymes function in order to employ them in new processes. In this presentation I will give three examples of our recent work that relates to how new insight has led to potential new uses of enzymes and how the quest for using enzymes in new processes has led to new fundamental discoveries and/or new methods.

Example 1: Brown macroalgae is a source of particular fucose-rich polysaccharides, fucoidans, that possess a range of beneficial bioactivities such as anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory effects. Enzymes that can selectively modify or catalyze depolymerization of fucoidans are a target of our research in order to deliver well-defined product structures that exert consistent and specific bioactivity properties. As part of this quest we have for example developed a way to stabilize fragile bacterial fucoidanases1 and – by serendipity – discovered an unusual quaternary hexameric enzyme structure that seem to represent a novel protein thermostabilization mechanism2. We also realized that a particular marine fungus, Paradendryphiella salina has adapted to thrive on brown macroalgae only by having alginate lyase encoding genes3.

Example 2: We have recently embarked on studying enzymes that can degrade plastic, notably polyethylene terephthalate (PET). During this work, we realized the critical significance of the degree of the PET crystallinity for the enzymatic rate, and realized, using scanning electron microscopy, that the PET surface looks very different after enzymatic attack dependent on the initial crystallinity of the PET substrate4.

Example 3: Lastly, I will like to share some protein engineering approaches we use – although not always equally successfully! – to try to get glycoside hydrolases to catalyze transglycosylation reactions. We are interested in transglycosylation technology as a way to design bioactive glycan structures, first and foremost human milk oligosaccharide mimics5-7. In all cases, insight into how the enzymes work is a prerequisite for understanding their function in nature, and forms the foundation for developing enzyme-catalyzed processes and products for the future.

1 doi: 10.3390/md16110422
2 doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-98588-3
3 doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48823-9
4 doi: 10.1016/j.nbt.2022.02.0065
5 doi: 10.3390/molecules24112033
6 doi: 10.1016/j.enzmictec.2018.04.008
7 doi: 10.3390/app112311493


Anne S. Meyer is a Professor of Enzyme Technology at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Head of the Protein Chemistry & Enzyme Technology Division in the Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (DTU Bioengineering), DTU. She is also a group leader for the Enzyme Technology group in the Division. Anne holds an MSc from the University of Copenhagen, an MSc from the University of Reading, UK (1987), and a PhD from DTU (1993). Employed at DTU since 1988 in various positions, Anne has also had two postdoc stays at The University of California, Davis. She became a Full Professor at DTU in 2006 and headed The Center for BioProcess Engineering at DTU until summer 2018, where she assumed her current role as Head of the Protein Chemistry & Enzyme Technology Division at DTU Bioengineering. She has been a visiting professor at The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Melbourne, Australia from 2017-2020.


View the complete 2021-22 LLE schedule

Questions? Please contact Delicia Ansalem, Communications Officer & External Relations Liaison

SOCAAR Seminar – Observing global fine-scale changes in ambient NO2 during COVID-19 lockdowns using satellites @ Microsoft Teams
Apr 6 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Join SOCAAR at their next seminar on Wednesday, April 6th from 3pm-4pm!

Observing global fine-scale changes in ambient NO2 during COVID-19 lockdowns using satellites

Matthew Cooper
Physical Science Officer
Environment and Climate Change Canada

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is an important contributor to air pollution with serious health
effects. Many reports have shown that NO2 concentrations decreased in 2020 during COVID19 lockdowns, but these studies are limited by the availability of air quality monitoring
globally. In this talk, I will show how we use satellite observations to infer global fine
resolution (~1km) ground-level NO2 concentrations. Using these observations, we find that
mean NO2 concentrations are ~30% lower in countries with strict COVID-19 lockdowns than
in those without. I will also present case studies that compare lockdown-driven changes to
long-term NO2 trends, and show how the sensitivity of NO2 to lockdowns varied across cities,
countries, and emissions sectors.

Join via Microsoft Teams on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)
+1 647-794-1609,,612523657#   Canada, Toronto
Phone Conference ID: 612 523 657#
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LLE: Nanoplastics in Our Environment: Small Particles with Big Challenges (Nathalie Tufenkji, McGill) @ Zoom
Apr 13 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

External members are required to register to receive the link and passcode. Registration closed at 9am on April 11.

Co-hosted with the Institute for Water Innovation (IWI)

Nathalie Tufenkji, McGill

Host: Prof. Jay Werber

The degradation of bulk plastics in the environment leads to the release of microplastics that can contaminate water supplies, agricultural fields, and foods we consume. Weathering of a single microplastic particle can yield up to billions of nanoplastics and nanoplastic pollution is expected to be ubiquitous in the environment. Nanoplastics are potentially more hazardous than microplastics because they can cross biological membranes; yet, there is little data on the occurrence, fate and impacts of nanoplastics. A key challenge in understanding the environmental burden of nanoplastics is the detection of such small, carbon-based particles in complex natural matrices such as soils.

Environmental nanoplastics are often thought of as an extension of microplastics with a distinction based on an arbitrary size cut-off, typically 100 nm or 1000 nm. In our view, in terms of environmental implications and analytical challenges, a size cut-off distinction provides little guidance. While a consensus on the precise definition of “nanoplastic” has yet to be reached, we advocate for a characteristic-based distinction between nanoplastics and microplastics. Based on existing literature and analytical methods, we present a set of characteristics, distinct from microplastics and other contaminants, that define environmental nanoplastics.

This lecture will present an overview of our work aimed at overcoming challenges to better understand the fate and impacts of nanoplastics in terrestrial and aquatic environments. I will discuss new approaches for detection of nanoplastics in complex matrices and recent advances in our understanding of the toxicity of nanoplastics.


Nathalie Tufenkji is a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at McGill University where she holds the Tier I Canada Research Chair in Biocolloids and Surfaces. She works in the area of particle-surface interactions with applications in protection of water resources, plastic pollution as well as the discovery of natural antimicrobials. Professor Tufenkji was awarded the Killam Research Fellowship, the Engineers Canada Award for the Support of Women in the Engineering Profession, the Chemical Institute of Canada Environment Award, an Early Career Research Excellence Award by the Faculty of Engineering at McGill University, the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in Science and Technology, and the Hatch Innovation Award of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineers. She was elected to the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada in 2016 and the Canadian Academy of Engineering in 2020. Beyond her research and teaching roles, Professor Tufenkji also serves as Associate Director of the Brace Center for Water Resources Management at McGill and has co-chaired several major international conferences. She has also served on the editorial advisory boards of the journals Environmental Science and Technology, npj Clean Water, Water Research, Colloids and Surfaces B, Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, and Environmental Science: Nano.


View the complete 2021-22 LLE schedule

Questions? Please contact Delicia Ansalem, Communications Officer & External Relations Liaison

5th ChemE Exhibition & 36th Dinner
May 27 @ 4:00 pm – 9:30 pm

SAVE THE DATE! The 5th ChemE Exhibition & 36th Dinner will be held at the Delta Chelsea Hotel located at 33 Gerrard St W. Invitations have been sent to faculty, staff, students, alumni, and industry partners. If you have questions regarding how to register, please email

BioZone Workshop Series: Bioinformatic Analysis of 16S rRNA Amplicon Sequencing Data
Jun 14 @ 3:30 pm – Jun 23 @ 5:00 pm

CREATE for BioZone will host a free hands-on Bioinformatic Analysis Workshop Series on June 14, 16, 21 and 23. The four-day workshop, featuring instructors Dr. Courtney Toth and Dr. Camilla Nesbø, will provide an overview of the tools and techniques used in the bioinformatic analysis of 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing data. Please mark your calendar and register by June 10.

Day 1 (June 14, 3:30-5:00pm ET)
Basic principles of amplicon sequencing.
Introduction to command line for bioinformatics.

Day 2 (June 16, 3:30-5:00pm ET)
Running QIIME 2, a bioinformatics platform for processing microbial sequencing data.
A practice dataset will be provided.

Day 3 (June 21, 3:30-5:00pm ET)
Running PhyloSeq, a bioinformatics platform for analysis and graphical display of microbial sequencing data.

Day 4 (June 23, 3:30-5:00pm ET)
BioZone choice: What bioinformatics tools and/or graphical displays would you like to learn more about?

Cost: Free
Venue: In-person and virtual (Teams)
Register by June 10:

All BioZone members including students, postdocs, staff and principal investigators interested in learning how to do bioinformatic analysis of sequencing data are encouraged to attend. We look forward to your participation!

Questions? Email us at: or

2022 ChemE Spring Convocation
Jun 16 @ 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Graduating students, faculty, and staff are invited to ChemE’s Spring Convocation Reception from 11AM to 1:30PM at the Faculty Club. Registration details have been sent through email. If you have questions, please email

Our Spring Convocation Ceremony will run from 2:30PM to 4PM. Please visit for more information.

Special Seminar: User-Programmable Hydrogel Biomaterials to Probe and Direct 4D Stem Cell Fate @ Red Seminar Room, Donnelly Centre
Aug 25 @ 11:30 am – 12:30 pm


The extracellular matrix directs stem cell function through a complex choreography of biomacromolecular interactions in a tissue-dependent manner. Far from static, this hierarchical milieu of biochemical and biophysical cues presented within the native cellular niche is both spatially complex and ever changing. As these pericellular reconfigurations are vital for tissue morphogenesis, disease regulation, and healing, in vitro culture platforms that recapitulate such dynamic environmental phenomena would be invaluable for fundamental studies in stem cell biology, as well as in the eventual engineering of functional human tissue. In this talk, I will discuss some of our group’s recent successes in reversibly modifying both the chemical and physical aspects of synthetic cell culture platforms with user-defined spatiotemporal control, regulating cell-biomaterial interactions through user-programmable Boolean logic, and engineering microvascular networks that span nearly all size scales of native human vasculature (including capillaries). Results will highlight our ability to modulate intricate cellular behavior including stem cell differentiation, protein secretion, and cell-cell interactions in 4D.


Dr. Cole A. DeForest is the Weyerhaeuser Endowed Associate Professor in the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, the Associate Chair of Chemical Engineering, as well as a core faculty member of the Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine at the University of Washington (UW) where he began in 2014. He received his B.S.E. degree from Princeton University in 2006, majoring in Chemical Engineering and minoring in Material Science Engineering and Bioengineering. He earned his Ph.D. degree under the guidance of Dr. Kristi Anseth from the University of Colorado in Chemical and Biological Engineering with an additional certificate in Molecular Biophysics. His postdoctoral research was performed with Dr. David Tirrell in the Divisions of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. He has published >60 peer-reviewed articles, including as the corresponding author for those appearing in Nature Materials, Nature Chemistry, Advanced Materials, JACS, PNAS, Science Advances, and Nature Reviews Materials. Dr. DeForest has received numerous research awards and honors including the Society for Biomaterials Young Investigator Award (2020), NIH Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA R35, 2020), Safeway Early Career Award (2018), NSF CAREER Award (2017), AIChE 35-Under-35 Award (2017), ACS PMSE Young Investigator Award (2017), Jaconette L. Tietze Young Scientist Award (2015), Biomedical Engineering Society Student Fellow Award (2013), DSM Polymer Technology Award (2011), ACS Excellence in Graduate Polymer Research Award (2010), MRS Graduate Student Research Gold Award (2009), Society for Biomaterials Outstanding Achievement Award (2009), Princeton University Material Science Student of the Year (2006), Princeton University Most Approachable Resident Adviser (2005), and Boulder High School Valedictorian (2002). Notably, he has also been recognized for excellence in teaching and was awarded the UW Presidential Distinguished Teaching Award (2016), given annually to a single Assistant Professor across all of the UW. His research has been supported through fellowships and grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the US Department of Education.

Please contact for the Zoom information.

BZ Seminar: Teaching E. coli to fix CO2
Sep 15 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am

The living world is largely divided into autotrophs that convert CO2 into biomass and heterotrophs that consume organic compounds. In spite of wide-spread interest in renewable energy storage and more sustainable food production, the engineering of industrially relevant heterotrophic model organisms to use CO2 as their sole carbon source has so far remained an outstanding challenge. I will describe the achievement of this transformation on laboratory timescales with the help of rational design making use of constraint-based modeling. We constructed and evolved Escherichia coli to produce all its biomass carbon from CO2. Reducing power and energy, but not carbon, are supplied via the one-carbon molecule formate, which can be produced electrochemically. Rubisco and phosphoribulokinase were co-expressed with formate dehydrogenase to enable CO2 fixation and reduction via the Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle. Autotrophic growth was achieved following several months of continuous laboratory evolution in a chemostat under intensifying organic carbon limitation and confirmed via isotopic labeling.

Professor Ron Milo earned a BSc in Physics and Mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a PhD in Biological Physics at the Weizmann Institute of Science. He was the first fellow in Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School before joining the Department of Plant & Environmental Sciences at the Weizmann Institute.

Please contact Vinthiya Param at for log in details.

LLE: Engineering Human Organoids, Organs, and Societies (Kelly Stevens, University of Washington) @ Virtual
Oct 5 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

ChemE community, the Zoom link and passcode were shared through email. External members are required to register. Registration closed at 9am on Monday, October 3.

Kelly Stevens, University of Washington

Host: Prof. Alison McGuigan

Although much progress has been made in building engineered human tissues and organs over the past several decades, replicating complex tissues remains an enormous challenge. To overcome this challenge, our field first needs to create better three-dimensional spatial maps, or “blueprints” of human tissues and organs. We also need to then understand how these spatial blueprints encode positional processes in tissues. Here, I will describe some of our work to develop multimodal “google maps” of human organs, as well as both biological and technological means to build these organs. Finally, I will speak to how we might together better built a more impactful profession by leveraging the power of all human intellect.


Dr. Kelly Stevens is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, and Laboratory Medicine & Pathology at the University of Washington. Dr. Stevens’ research team focuses on human organ design. Her team is developing molecular blueprints of human organs, as well as new methods to build engineered organs, as through 3D printing and synthetic morphogenesis. Dr. Stevens also works to disseminate the message that to develop advances that equitably improve the lives of all people, our profession needs to include all people. Dr. Stevens has received numerous honors and awards as a result of her work, including Elected Co-Chair of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine New Voices Cohort, AIMBE Fellow, Allen Distinguished Investigator Award, NIH New Innovator Award, BMES CMBE Rising Star Award, John Tietze Stem Cell Scientist Award, Keck Foundation Award, and Gree Scholar Award.


View the complete 2022-23 LLE schedule

Questions? Please contact Jennifer Hsu, Manager, External Relations (