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Photo of Katherine J. Chou

Katherine Chou

Microbial Physiology & Engineering | 303-384-7626

Research Interests

  • H2 metabolism in thermophilic and anaerobic bacteria

  • Efficient biomass utilization and conversion to H2/biofuels/biochemicals

  • Bacterial laboratory evolution towards a phenotype of interests

Affiliated Research Programs

  • "Fermentative Approaches to Hydrogen Production," funded by DOE EERE Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO). The goal of the project is to improve hydrogen molar yield, rate, and output from biomass using cellulose-degrading bacteria, Clostridium thermocellum, through metabolic engineering.

  • "Biological Electron Transfer and Catalysis (BETCy)" Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) funded by DOE Office of Science, Basic Energy Science (BES) program. (Key personnel) This project focuses on fundamental understandings of cellular mechanisms in conserving electron/energy and its impact on H2/biofuels production.

  • "Adaptive Laboratory Evolutionary Approach to Engineer Clostridium thermocellum for Improved Biomass Utilization," funded NREL LDRD program /Director's Fellowship. (PI.) This project couples laboratory evolutionary approach with systems biology tools (transcriptomic, genomic, and metabolomics) to gain insights into the design principles governing substrate utilization.

  • "Advance Biofuels from Cellulose via Genetic Engineering of Clostridium thermocellum," funded by DOE BioEnergy Technologies Office (BETO) SEED grant (co-PI). This project aims at developing C. thermocellum for isoprene production via pathway engineering.

Areas of Expertise

  • Bacterial physiology

  • Metabolic engineering

  • Systems biology

  • H2 metabolism


  • Ph.D., Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 2009

  • B.S. and M.S. Chemical Engineering/Bioengineering option, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 2005

Professional Experience

  • Staff Scientist, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 2013–present

  • Postdoctoral Researcher, NREL, Biosciences Center, 20102013


  1. "Butanol Production by Recombinant Microorganisms," U.S. Patent Application No. 20090111154 (2008)

Featured Publications

  1. "Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for 1-butanol production," Metabolic Engineering (2008)

  2. "Integrated network analysis identifies nitric oxide response networks and dihydroxyacid dehydratase as a crucial target in Escherichia coli," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2007)