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Lieve Laurens, Ph.D.

I am a senior research scientist in the Bioprocess Research and Development group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. My research experience is primarily analytical biochemistry—investigating ways to understand lipid, carbohydrate, and protein production and composition in microalgae and other microorganisms.

A large fraction of my time I dedicate to leading the DOE/EERE-funded Algal Biomass Characterization project at the National Bioenergy Center and coordinating research with a team of six researchers. As part of this work, we have recently published a set of laboratory analytical procedures specifically tailored for algal biomass characterization. These are now available online. In addition to this work, I am part of the core team of ATP3 where the analytical characterization of production biomass and coordination of the five different teams are my responsibilities.

I recently took over the leadership of the Algae Biomass Organization's Technical Standards Committee where I co-authored the guidance document for Industry Minimum Descriptive Language for biomass, bioproducts, and biofuels development from algae. More information can be found on the Algae Biomass Organization's website.

Prior to joining NREL, I was a research associate and project leader at the Centre for Applied Marine Science at Bangor University, UK, where I started research on biofuels from microalgae.

Research Interests

My research interests include:

  • Understanding the biochemical composition of bioenergy-relevant biomass
  • Characterizing the changes when algal and microbial cultures undergo nutrient deprivation and physiological stress
  • Understanding biofuels' precursor behaviors during biomass conversion processes
  • Developing high-throughput screening technologies for compositional analysis of microbial biomass by correlating specific fingerprints in near- and mid-infrared spectra with quantitative data.


Ph.D., Biochemistry, John Innes Centre, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
D.E.S., Biotechnology, University of Paris IV, France
M.S., Biotechnology and Biochemistry, Ghent University, Belgium
B.S., Biology, Ghent University, Belgium

Relevant Publications

Laurens, L.M.L; Van Wychen, S.; McAllister, J.; Arrowsmith, S.; Dempster, T.; McGowen, J.; Pienkos, P.T. (2014). "Strain, Biochemistry and Cultivation-Dependent Measurement Variability of Algal Biomass Composition." Analytical Biochemistry. In press.

Laurens, L.M.L; Wolfrum, E.J. (2013). "High-Throughput Quantitative Biochemical Characterization of Algal Biomass by NIR Spectroscopy; Multiple Linear Regression and Multivariate Linear Regression Analysis." Journal of Agicultural and Food Chemistry 61(50); pp. 12307-12314. Accessed April 2014:

Wei, H.; Wang, W.; Yarbrough, J.M.; Baker, J.O.; Laurens, L.M.L.; Van Wychen, S., Chen, X.; Taylor, L.; Xu, Q.; Himmelmail, M.; Zhang, M. (2013). "Genomic, Proteomic, and Biochemical Analyses of Oleaginous Mucor circinelloides: Evaluating Its Capability in Utilizing Cellulolytic Substrates for Lipid Production." PloS one 8(9). Accessed April 2014:

Templeton, D.W.; Quinn, M.; Van Wychen, S.; Hyman, D.; Laurens, L.M.L. (2012). "Separation and Quantification of Microalgal Carbohydrates." Journal of Chromatography A (1270); pp. 225-234.

Black, S.K.; Smolinski, S.L.; Feehan, C.; Pienkos, P.T.; Jarvis, E.E.; Laurens, L.M.L. (2012). "New method for discovery of starch phenotypes in growing algal colonies." Analytical Biochemistry 432(2); pp. 71-73.

Elliott, L.G.; Feehan, C.; Laurens, L.M.L.; Pienkos, P.T.; Darzins, A.; Posewitz, M.C. (2012). "Establishment of a bioenergy-focused microalgal culture collection." Algal Research 1(2); pp.102 – 113. Accessed April 2014:

Laurens, L.M.L.; Dempster, T.; Jones, H.D.T.; Wolfrum, E.; Van Wychen, S.; McAllister, J.; Arrowsmith, S.; Parchert, K.J.; Gloe, L.M. (2012). "Algal biomass constituent analysis: method uncertainties and investigation of the underlying measuring chemistries." Analytical Chemistry 84(4); pp. 1879 – 1887. Accessed April 2014:

Laurens, L.M.L.; Quinn, M.; Van Wychen, S.; Templeton, D.T.; Wolfrum, E. (2012). "Accurate and reliable quantification of total microalgal fuel potential as fatty acid methyl esters by in situ transesterification." Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 403(1); pp. 167-78. Accessed April 2014:

Laurens, L.M.L.; Wolfrum, E.J. (2012). "Rapid compositional analysis of microalgae by NIR spectroscopy." NIR News 23(2); pp. 9.

Guarnieri, M.; Laurens, L.M.L.; Knoshaug, E.P.; Chou, Y.C.; Donohoe, B.S.; Pienkos, P.T. (2012). "Complex System Engineering: A Case Study for an Unsequenced Microalga," in Patnaik, R., ed. Engineering Complex Phenotypes in Industrial Strains. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Laurens, L.M.L.; Wolfrum, E. (2011). "Feasibility of spectroscopic characterization of algal lipids: Chemometric correlation of NIR and FTIR spectra with exogenous lipids in algal biomass." BioEnergy Research 4(1); pp. 22-35. Accessed April 2014:

Work, V.H.; Radakovits, R.; Jinkerson, R.E.; Meuser, J.E.; Elliott, L.G.; Vinyard, D.J.; Laurens, L.M.L.; Dismukes, C.; Posewitz, M.C. (2010). "Increased lipid accumulation in the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii sta7-10 starchless Isoamylase mutant and increased carbohydrate synthesis in complemented strains." Eukaryotic Cell (9); pp.1251-1261.

Williams, P.J. le B.; Laurens L.M.L.; (2010). "Microalgae as Biodiesel & Biomass Feedstocks: Review & Analysis of the Biochemistry, Energetics & Economics." Energy Environmental Science (3); pp. 554-590.

Greenwell, H.C.; Laurens, L.M.L. Shields, R.J.; Lovitt, R.W.; Flynn, K.J. (2009). "Placing microalgae on the biofuels priority list: a review of the technological challenges." Journal of the Royal Society Interface 7(46); pp. 706-726.

Greenwell, H.C.; Laurens, L.M.L.; Jarvis, R.M.; Shields, R.J.; Lovitt, R.W.; Flynn, K.J. (2008). "Algae as a solution to the global biofuels debate?" Panorama da Aquicultura 18(106); pp. 40-45.

Laurens, L.M.L. (2008). "Rapid Fatty Acid Fingerprinting in Microalgae by Gas Chromatography: Analytical Opportunities." The Column 4(10); pp. 7-11.




Contact Information

Lieve Laurens, Ph.D.
National Bioenergy Center
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
15013 Denver West Parkway
Golden, CO 80401
Phone (303) 384-6196