Allison Z. Werner is a staff scientist in the Renewable Resources and Enabling Sciences Center where she utilizes systems biology and synthetic biology approaches to understand and engineer biological conversion processes. Specifically, her research focuses on developing microbial chassis for the conversion of low-value and waste feedstocks (e.g., lignin and plastics) into precursors for performance-advantaged chemicals, materials, and fuels.


Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology, Colorado State University

B.S., Biomolecular Engineering, Milwaukee School of Engineering

Professional Experience

Scientist III, NREL (2021–present)

Visiting Scientist and Early Career Fellow, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (2021)

Postdoctoral Researcher, NREL (2018–2021)

Ph.D. Student, Colorado State University (2014–2018)

National Science Foundation REU Fellow, Colorado State University (2013)

National Science Foundation REU Fellow, University of Alaska at Anchorage (2012)

Kern Foundation Fellow, Medical College of Wisconsin (2011–2013)

Featured Work

Critical Enzyme Reactions in Aromatic Catabolism for Microbial Lignin Conversion, Nature Catalysis (2022)

Tandem Chemical Deconstruction and Biological Upcycling of Poly(Ethylene Terephthalate) to β-Ketoadipic Acid by Pseudomonas putida KT2440, Metabolic Engineering (2021)

Metabolism of Syringyl Lignin-Derived Compounds in Pseudomonas putida Enables Convergent Production of 2-Pyrone-4, 6-Dicarboxylic Acid, Metabolic Engineering (2021)

Pathway Discovery and Engineering for Cleavage of a β-1 Lignin-Derived Biaryl Compound, Metabolic Engineering (2021)

Outer Membrane Vesicles Catabolize Lignin-Derived Aromatic Compounds in Pseudomonas putida KT2440, PNAS (2020)

A Comprehensive Time‐Course Metabolite Profiling of the Model Cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 Under Diurnal Light: Dark Cycles, The Plant Journal (2019)

Relevant News Articles

NREL Selected for Space-Bound Research To Solve the Plastic Waste DilemmaNREL News Article (2022)

Researchers Engineer Microorganisms To Tackle PET Plastic Pollution, NREL News Article (2021)

Awards and Honors

Director’s Award, NREL (2020)

Key Contributor Award, NREL (2019, 2020, 2021)