Philip T. Pienkos
Phil Pienkos is the Principal Manager of the Bioprocess R&D Group of the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. He joined NREL in September 2007 after 25 years in the biotech industry. Although his primary focus at NREL is on algal biofuels, he is also active in efforts to produce hydrocarbon fuels from sugars, lignin, and natural gas. In addition to his research responsibilities, he leads a group that consists of three sections—Bioprocess Research, Bioprocess Development, and Biochemical Process Research—and serves as line manager for approximately 20 interns, technicians, scientists, and engineers within the Biochemical Process Research section who are involved in various aspects of both biochemical conversion and catalytic upgrading for biofuels and bioproducts.
Some of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-funded programmatic efforts that involve members of the Biochemical Process Research section are:
- Biological upgrading of sugars
- Catalytic upgrading of sugars
- Lignin utilization
- Biological lignin depolymerization
- Separations development and application
- Computational modeling and prediction
- Biogas to fuels
In addition to these activities, Phil is the Algal Biofuels Platform Lead and project lead or NREL PI on a number of advanced biofuels projects. These include:
- Algal Biomass Conversion, an NREL AOP project funded by the U.S. DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO)
- Growth of Algae on Solid Supports funded by the NREL Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program (LDRD)
- Algal Testbed Public Private Partnership (ATP3), a multi-institutional project funded by BETO and led by Arizona State University
- Biological Conversion of Natural Gas to Liquid Fuels funded by ARPA-E and led by University of Washington.
Phil is very active in the international algal biofuels community, resulting in his being named in Biofuels Digest's list of the top 100 people in biofuels four years running. He played a role in writing an algal biofuels report to Congress (released in 2008) and in organizing the DOE algal roadmapping workshop in December 2008, as well as helping to draft the roadmap itself, which was published in 2010. He was a co-author on the International Energy Agency Task 39 report on Current Status and Potential for Algal Biofuels Production and on the report to DOE on the harmonization of algal biofuels analysis. Phil was selected to serve on the steering committee of the fledgling Algae Biomass Organization in 2007 and has served on the board of directors from 2008 to 2013. He has recently been chosen to serve on the board of directors of the Algae Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established to support research, development, and other educational activities relating to the use of algae for the production of renewable and sustainable commercial products. He is also on the editorial board for the journal Algal Research.
Much of his time is spent in partnership development at NREL, and Phil is involved in discussions with both public and private organizations to identify collaborative opportunities in various aspects of biofuel R&D involving both cellulosic and algal biomass.
Phil's technical experience spans a wide range of topics including:
- Molecular biology
- Microbial physiology
- Fermentation development
- Metabolic engineering
- Enzyme and protein engineering
- Techno-economic analysis.
Ph.D., Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin, 1980
B.S., Honors Biology, University of Illinois, graduated cum laude, 1974
- Principal Group Manager, NREL, Golden, CO, 5/11–present
- Principal Research Supervisor, NREL, Golden, CO, 8/07–5/11
- Research Director, Molecular Logix, Inc., The Woodlands, TX, 2/03–8/07
- Interim Research Position, Advisys, Inc., The Woodlands, TX, 8/02–2/03
- Research Director, Enchira Biotechnology Corp./Energy BioSystems Corp., The Woodlands, TX, 10/94–5/02
- Staff Scientist, Celgene Corp., Warren, NJ, 5/86–10/94
- Senior Research Scientist, Celanese Research Company, Summit, NJ, 6/84–5/86
- Senior Research Scientist, Lederle Laboratories, Pearl River, NY, 6/82–6/84
- Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dept. of Microbiology, University of Texas, Austin, TX, 10/79–6/82
Publications and Presentations
Co-author of numerous technical publications, including most recently:
- Huiya G.; Nagle, N.; Pienkos, P.T.; Posewitz, M.C. (2014). "Recycling Nitrogen from Fuel-Extracted Algal Biomass: Residuals as the Sole Nitrogen Input for Culturing Scenedesmus acutus." Bioresource Technology (submitted).
- Laurens, L.M.L.; Nagle, N.; Davis, R.; Sweeney, N.; Van Wychen, S.; Lowell, A; Pienkos, P.T. (2014). "Acid-catalyzed algal biomass pretreatment for integrated lipid and carbohydrate-based biofuels production." Energy and Environmental Sci. (in review).
- Mohagheghi, A.; Linger, J.; Smith, H.; Yang, S.; Dowe, N.; Zhang, M.; Pienkos, P.T. (2014). "Improving a recombinant Zymomonas mobilis strain 8b through continuous adaptation on dilute acid pretreated corn stover hydrolysate." (in preparation).
- Li, T.; Kirchhoff, H.; Gargouri, M.; Feng, J.; Pienkos, P.T.; Gang, D.; Chen, S. (2014). "Regulation of photosynthesis in mixotrophic cells of a microalga strain Chlorella sorokiniana." (in preparation).
- Yang, S.; Franden, M. A.; Brown, S. B.; Chou, Y.-C.; Pienkos, P.T.; Zhang, M. (2014). "Insights into acetate toxicity in Zymomonas mobilis 8b using different substrates." Biotechnol for Biofuels (in press).
- Mohagheghi, A.; Linger, J.; Smith, H.; Yang, S.; Dowe, N.; Pienkos, P.T. (2014). "Improving xylose utilization by recombinant Zymomonas mobilis strain 8b through adaptation using 2-deoxyglucose." Biotechnol Biofuels (7).
- Laurens, L. L.M.; Van Wychen, S.; McAllister, J. P.; Arrowsmith, S.; Dempster, T. A.; McGowen, J.; Pienkos , P.T. (2014). "Strain, Biochemistry and Cultivation-Dependent Measurement Accuracy of Algal Biomass Biochemical Composition." Anal. Biochem(452); pp. 86-95.
- Guarnieri, M. T.; Pienkos, P.T. (March 2014). "Algal omics: unlocking bioproduct diversity in algae cell factories." Photosynthesis Res.
- Fei, Q.; Guarnieri, M. T.; Tao, L.; Laurens, L. M. L.; Dowe, N.; Pienkos, P.T. (2014). "Bioconversion of Natural Gas to Liquid Fuel: Opportunities and Challenges." Biotechnology Advances (32); pp. 596-614.
- Wang, W.; Yang, S.; Hunsinger, G. B.; Pienkos, P.T.; Johnson, D. K. (2014). "Connecting lignin-degradation pathway with pre-treatment inhibitor sensitivity of Cupriavidus necator." Frontiers Microbiology (5).
- Miara, A.; Pienkos, P.T.; Bazilian, M.; Davis, R.; Macknick, J. (2014). "An Optimization Framework for Algal Systems in the Energy-Water-Food Nexus." Industrial Biotechnology (10); pp. 202-211.
- Linger, J.G.; Vardon, D. R.; Guarnieri, M. T.; Karp, E. M.; Hunsinger, G. B.; Franden, M. A.; Johnson, C. W.; Chupka, G.; Strathmann, T. J.; Pienkos, P.T.; Beckham, G. T. (2014). "Lignin valorization through integrated biological funneling and chemical catalysis." Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. (111); pp. 12013-12018.
- Black, S.K.; Smolinski, S. L.; Feehan, C.; Pienkos, P. T.; Jarvis, E. E.; Laurens, L. M.L. (2013). "New method for discovery of starch phenotypes in growing microalgal colonies." Anal. Biochem. (432); pp.71–73.
- Guarnieri, M. T.; Nag, A.; Yang, S.; Pienkos, P . T. (2013). "Proteomic Analysis of Chlorella vulgaris: Target Identification for Strain-Engineering." J. Proteomics (93); pp. 245-253.
- Franden, M. A.; Pilath, H. M.; Mohagheghi, A.; Pienkos, P. T.; Zhang, M. (2013). "Inhibition of growth of Zymomonas mobilis by model compounds found in lignocellulosic hydrolysates." Biotechnology for Biofuels (6); pp. 99-105.
- Yang, S.; Guarnieri, M. T.; Smolinski, S.; Ghirardi, M.; Pienkos, P. T. (2013). "De novo transcriptomic analysis of hydrogen production in the green alga Chlamydomonas moewusii through RNA-Seq." Biotechnology for Biofuels (6); pp. 118–123.
- Bazilian, M.; Davis, R.; Pienkos, P. T.; Arent, D. . (2013). "The Energy-Water-Food Nexus Through the Lens of Algal Systems." Industrial Biotechnology (9); pp. 158–162.
- Knoshaug, E. P.; Shi, B.; Shannon, T. G.; Mleziva, M. M.; Pienkos, P. T. (2012). "The potential of photosynthetic aquatic species as sources of useful cellulose fibers - a review." J. Applied. Phycol.(25); pp. 1123-1134.
- Black, S. K.; Smolinski, S. L.; Feehan, C.; Pienkos, P.T.; Jarvis, E. E.; Laurens, L. M. L. (2013). "New Method for Discovery of Starch Phenotypes in Growing Microalgal Colonies." Analytical Biochemistry (432); 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 ); pp. 102–113.
- Guarnieri, M.; Nag, A.; Smolinski, S.; Darzins, A.; Seibert, M.; Pienkos, P.T. (2011). "Examination of Triacylglycerol Biosynthetic Pathways via de novo Transcriptomic and Proteomic Analyses in an Unsequenced Microalga." PLOS One (6); e25851.
- Pienkos, P.T.; Aden, A.; Laurens, L. (2011). "Making Biofuel from Microalgae." American Scientist (99); pp. 474–481.
- Sun, A.C.; Davis, R.; Starbuck, M.; Ben-Amotz, A.; Pate, R.C.; Pienkos, P.T. (2011). "Comparative Cost Analysis of Algal Oil Production for Biofuels." Energy (36); pp. 5169–5179.
- Davis, R.; Aden, A.; Pienkos, P.T. (2011). "Techno-Economic Analysis of Autotrophic Microalgae for Fuel Production." Applied Energy (88); pp. 3524–3531.
- Darzins, A.; Pienkos, P.T.; Edye, L. (2010). Current Status and Potential for Algal Biofuels Production. IEA Bioenergy Task 39 Report T39-T2.
- Pienkos, P.T.; Jarvis, E.; Darzins, A. (2010). "Betting on algal biofuels." IEEE Spectrum.
- Franden, M.A.; Pienkos, P.T.; Zhang, M. (2009). "Development of a high-throughput method to evaluate the impact of inhibitory compounds from lignocellulosic hydrolysates on the growth of Zymomonas mobilis." J. Biotechnol. (144); pp. 259–267.
- Pienkos, P.T.; Zhang, M. (2009). "Role of pretreatment and conditioning processes on toxicity of lignocellulosic biomass hydrolysates." Cellulose (16); pp. 743–762.
- Pienkos, P.T.; Darzins, A. (2009). "The promise and challenges of microalgal-derived biofuels." BioFPR (3); pp. 431–440.
- Holland, H.L.; Brown, F.M.; Kerridge, A.; Pienkos, P.T.; Arensdorf, J. (2003). "Biotransformation of sulfides by Rhodococcus erythropolis." J. Mol. Cat. B. Enzymatic (22); pp. 219–223.
- Coco, W.M.; Encell, L.P.; Levinson, W.E.; Crist, M.J.; Loomis, A.K.; Licato, L.L.; Arensdorf, J.; Sica, N.; Pienkos, P.T.; Monticello, D.J. (2002). "Growth factor engineering by degenerate homoduplex recombination." Nature Biotech. (20); pp. 1246–1250.
- Arensdorf, J.J.; Loomis, A.K.; DiGrazia, P.M.; Monticello, D.J.; Pienkos, P.T. (2002). "Chemostat Approach for the Directed Evolution of Biodesulfurization Gain-of-Function Mutants." Appl. Environ. Microbiol. (68); pp. 691–698.
- Coco, W.M.; Levinson, W.E.; Crist, M.J.; Hektor, H.J.; Darzins, A.; Pienkos, P.T.; Squires, C.H.; Monticello, D.J. (2001). "DNA shuffling method for generating highly recombined genes and evolved enzymes." Nature Biotech. (19); pp. 354-359.
- Pienkos, P.T. (2000). "Choosing the best platform for the biotransformation of hydrophobic molecules." Bell, C.R.; Brylinsky, M.; Johnson-Green, P., ed. Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology. Halifax, Canada: Atlantic Canada Society for Microbial Ecology.
Co-inventor on three patents:
- Coco, W.M.; Pienkos, P.T.; Loomis, A.K. "Epidermal Growth Factor Agonists and Methods of Use." U.S. Patent No. 7,084,246.
- Bishop, J.S.; Loomis, K.A.; Monticello, D.J.; Pienkos, P.T. "Epidermal growth factor receptor antagonists and methods of use." U.S. Patent No. 7,470,769.
- Pienkos, P.T.; Monticello, D.J. "Pan-HER antagonists and methods of use." U.S. Patent No. 7,557,181.
Presentations at national and international meetings, including most recently:
- 3rd Asia-Oceania Algae Innovation Summit (2014)
- Spring BETO Algae Workshop (2014)
- 4th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts (2014)
- 36th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals (2014)
- 7th Algae Biomass Summit (2013)
- International Symposium on Algal Biomass (2013)
Philip T. Pienkos
Bioprocess R&D Group
National Bioenergy Center
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
15013 Denver West Parkway
Golden, CO 80401