Shi-You Ding joined NREL in 2000. He is a plant biologist and biochemist specializing in the ultrastructure of plant cell walls and cell-wall-degrading enzymes. He has pioneered nanometer-scale studies of plant cell wall structures and the changes occurring in them during biomass conversion processes, elucidating in detail the molecular interactions between plant cell wall constituents, microbes, and enzymes by means of combined chemical imaging, single-molecule spectroscopy, and biochemistry approaches.
Dr. Ding currently leads several DOE-funded projects aimed at developing a deeper understanding of plant cell wall structure and development and of the molecular basis of biomass recalcitrance with reference to processing of plant cell wall material to biofuels. Specifically, he has developed microscopic and spectroscopic tools that enable chemical and spatial characterization of biomass and its chemical/enzymatic conversion kinetics at nanometer-scale resolution, leading to new perspectives on the rational design and improvement of the biomass conversion processes. Dr. Ding initiated the development of the Biomass Surface Characterization Laboratory (BSCL) and is a mentor for the use of many microscopes in this lab.
Currently Dr. Ding and his colleagues are engaged in development of label-free chemical imaging techniques such as coherent Raman microscopy (e.g., CARS and SRS), fluorescence-based single-molecule microscopy (e.g., TIRF-M, DOPI, PALM, and FLIM), and scanning probe microscopy (e.g., AFM and NSOM). These custom-built systems provide greatly expanded capabilities for imaging complex biological systems. Dr. Ding also has extensive experience in the biochemistry of cellulase systems. Based on the insights gained from micro- and nanoscale structure studies, he and his colleagues use molecular engineering approaches to build new chimeric enzyme proteins and to formulate mixtures of cellulases that will work more efficiently to deconstruct complex cell-wall material and harvest its component chemicals for conversion to biofuels and other valuable chemicals.
Prior to joining NREL, Dr. Ding worked at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, where as a postdoctoral fellow investigating the biochemistry of cellulosome systems, he discovered three new bacterial cellulosomal systems: Acetivibrio cellulolyticus, Bacteroides cellulosolvens, and the most complicated cellulosome system found so far, that from Ruminococcus flavefaciens. Prior to his work in Israel, Dr. Ding was a visiting scientist and postdoctoral researcher at Peking University in China, working on bioinformatics and plant molecular evolution. Dr. Ding has authored or co-authored more than 60 peer-reviewed papers, in addition to holding six U.S. patents on thermophilic cellulases that have been licensed to industry.