Professor Chris Lawson is the 2022 recipient of the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME)/International Water Association (IWA) Rising Star Award. The prestigious prize rewards internationally-recognized research of unusual merit in this field.
Professor Lawson joined the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor in 2021. He earned his BASc and MASc at the University of British Columbia (2010 and 2014, respectively), working with Professors Steven Hallam and Eric Hall on the microbial ecology of biological phosphorus removal. He earned his PhD in Environmental Engineering (Microbiology minor) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019 working with Professors Trina McMahon and Dan Noguera on the microbial ecology of anaerobic ammonium oxidation for sustainable wastewater treatment. His PhD thesis led to cutting edge studies on the metabolism and interactions of anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing bacteria using novel approaches from systems biology, including metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, metabolomics, and metabolic flux analysis. His work also helped create a roadmap for the emerging field of microbiome engineering that highlights novel approaches for harnessing microbiomes across diverse applications, including waste treatment and resource recovery. This work was recognized by the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. In 2020, Dr. Lawson pursed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (Berkeley Lab) working with Dr. Héctor García Martin and Professor Michelle O’Malley on engineering synthetic anaerobic microbiomes for renewable chemicals production using machine learning, automation, and bioengineering. In his newly founded lab at the University of Toronto’s BioZone, Dr. Lawson and his team continue to use synthetic anaerobic microbiomes to discover basic metabolic principles governing microbiome function, while also merging approaches from microbial ecology and metabolic engineering to design microbiomes for renewable chemicals and energy production from waste resources.