'Engineering SuperMicrobes to Save Us' to be held on Feb. 1

A free public lecture titled "Engineering SuperMicrobes to Save Us" will take place at 11 a.m. Feb. 1, in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The speaker will be Howard M. Salis, assistant professor of biological engineering and chemical engineering at Penn State.

The event is the first of four lectures in the 2014 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, a free minicourse for the general public with the theme "Strategies for Survival on Planet Earth." No registration is required. The lectures take place on four consecutive Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. in 100 Thomas Building.

In his lecture, Salis will reveal the innovations his lab is developing to engineer microorganisms capable of manufacturing fuels, materials, and drugs from biorenewable and sustainable sources. Although building a new industry to replace existing uses of petrochemicals remains a big challenge, Salis's lecture will highlight not only the challenges but also the promises and benefits of building a sustainable biorenewables industry. He will illustrate with his recent research how physics, chemistry, and mathematics are being used to push the metabolism of microbes to the bleeding edge of economic competitiveness.

The goal of Salis's research program is to convert synthetic biology into a mature engineering discipline. More information about his lab's research is online at http://www.salis.psu.edu/research.shtml.

Salis received a doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota in 2007, then was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California - San Francisco until joining the Penn State faculty in 2009 as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is a program of the Penn State Eberly College of Science that is designed for the enjoyment and education of residents of the Central Pennsylvania area and beyond. For more information or access assistance, contact the Eberly College of Science Office of Media Relations and Public Information by phone at 814-863-8453 or by email to jms1140@psu.edu. More information about the Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, including archived recordings of previous lectures and a list of other lectures in the 2014 series, is available online at science.psu.edu/frontiers.

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Last Updated January 10, 2015