Photo of Philip T. Pienkos

Phil Pienkos

Contingent Worker-Emeritus Researcher


Affiliated Research Programs

  • Algal Biomass Conversion (PI)

  • Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership, ATP3 (NREL PI)

  • Bio-GTL: Novel Biocatalyst For Conversion Of Natural Gas into Diesel Fuel (NREL PI)

  • Algae Biotechnology Partnership (consultant)

  • Algae Technology Educational Consortium (consultant)

  • Growth of Algae on Solid Supports funded by the NREL Laboratory-Directed Research and Development Program (consultant)

  • Biogas to Liquid Fuels and Chemicals Using a Methanotrophic Microorganism (consultant)

  • Biogas Valorization: Development of a Methane-to-Adipic Acid Bioprocess (consultant)

Areas of Expertise

  • Molecular biology

  • Microbial physiology

  • Biochemical conversion process development

  • Fermentation development

  • Metabolic engineering

  • Enzyme and protein engineering

  • Techno-economic analysis


  • Ph.D., Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1980

  • B.S., Honors Biology, University of Illinois-Urbana, 1974

Professional Experience

  • Member of Board of Directors, Algae Foundation, 2013present

  • Algal Biofuels Platform Lead, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO

  • Waste to Energy Platform Lead, NREL

  • Principal Group Manager, NREL, May 2011present

  • Member of Board of Directors, Algae Biomass Organization, 20082013

  • Principal Research Supervisor, NREL, Aug. 2007May 2011

  • Research Director, Molecular Logix, Inc., The Woodlands, TX, Feb. 2003Aug. 2007

  • Interim Research Position, Advisys, Inc., The Woodlands, TX, Aug. 2002Feb. 2003

  • Research Director, Enchira Biotechnology Corp./Energy BioSystems Corp., The Woodlands, TX, Oct. 1994May 2002

  • Staff Scientist, Celgene Corp., Warren, NJ, May 1986Oct. 1994

  • Senior Research Scientist, Celanese Research Company, Summit, NJ, June 1984May 1986

  • Senior Research Scientist, Lederle Laboratories, Pearl River, NY, June 1982June 1984

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Microbiology, University of Texas, Austin, TX, Oct. 1979June 1982

  • Engineer, Range Fuels, Inc., 20072009


  1. "Biocatalysts with enhanced inhibitor tolerance," U.S. Patent No.  9,206,445 (2015)

  2. "Pan-HER antagonists and methods of use," U.S. Patent No. 7,557,181 (2009)

  3. "Epidermal growth factor receptor antagonists and methods of use," U.S. Patent No. 7,470,769 (2008)

  4. "Epidermal growth factor agonists," U.S. Patent No. 7,084,246 (2006)

Featured Publications

  1. "Draft Genome Sequence of Chlorella vulgaris UTEX395 an oleaginous, freshwater green microalga," (forthcoming)

  2. "Assessment of photosynthesis regulation in mixotrophically cultured microalga Chlorella sorokiniana," Algal Research (2016)

  3. "Bioconversion of methane to lactate by an obligate methanotrphic bactgerium," Scientific Reports (2016)

  4. "Genome-scale metabolic reconstructions and theoretical investigation of methane conversion in Methylomicrobium buryatense Strain 5G(B1)," Microb Cell Fact. (2015)

  5. "Bioreactor Performance Parameters for an Industrially-promising Methanotroph Methylomicrobium buryatense 5GB1," Microb Cell Fact. (2015)

  6. "Algal omics: unlocking bioproduct diversity in algae cell factories," Photosynth. Res. (2015)

  7. "Acid-catalyzed algal biomass pretreatment for integrated lipid and carbohydrate-based biofuels production," Green Chem. (2015)

  8. "Nitrogen recycling from fuel-extracted algal biomass: Residuals as the sole nitrogen source for culturing Scenedesmus acutus," Bioresource Technol. (2015)

  9. "Improving a recombinant Zymomonas mobilis strain 8b through continuous adaptation on dilute acid pretreated corn stover hydrolysate," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2105)

  10. "Insights into acetate toxicity in Zymomonas mobilis 8b using different substrates," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2014)

  11. "Improving xylose utilization by recombinant Zymomonas mobilis strain 8b through adaptation using 2-deoxyglucose," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2014)

  12. "Strain, Biochemistry and Cultivation-Dependent Measurement Accuracy of Algal Biomass Biochemical Composition," Anal. Biochem. (2014)

  13. "Bioconversion of Natural Gas to Liquid Fuel: Opportunities and Challenges." Biotechnology Advances (2014)

  14. "Connecting lignin-degradation pathway with pre-treatment inhibitor sensitivity of Cupriavidus necator," Frontiers Microbiology (2014)

  15. "An Optimization Framework for Algal Systems in the Energy-Water-Food Nexus," Industrial Biotechnology (2014)

  16. "Lignin valorization through integrated biological funneling and chemical catalysis," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. (2014)

  17. "New method for discovery of starch phenotypes in growing microalgal colonies." Anal. Biochem. (2013)

  18. "Proteomic Analysis of Chlorella vulgaris: Target Identification for Strain-Engineering." J. Proteomics (2013)

  19. "Inhibition of growth of Zymomonas mobilis by model compounds found in lignocellulosic hydrolysates." Biotechnology for Biofuels (2013)

  20. "De novo transcriptomic analysis of hydrogen production in the green alga Chlamydomonas moewusii through RNA-Seq." Biotechnology for Biofuels (2013)

  21. "The Energy-Water-Food Nexus Through the Lens of Algal Systems." Industrial Biotechnology (2013)

  22. "New Method for Discovery of Starch Phenotypes in Growing Microalgal Colonies." Analytical Biochemistry (2013)

  23. Renewable Diesel from Algal Lipids: An Integrated Baseline for Cost, Emissions, and Resource Potential from a Harmonized Model, NREL Technical Report (2012)

  24. "The potential of photosynthetic aquatic species as sources of useful cellulose fibers—a review," J. Applied. Phycol. (2012)

  25. "Establishment of a bioenergy-focused microalgal culture collection," Algal Research (2012)

  26. "Examination of Triacylglycerol Biosynthetic Pathways via de novo Transcriptomic and Proteomic Analyses in an Unsequenced Microalga," PLOS One (2011)

  27. "Making Biofuel from Microalgae," American Scientist (2011)

  28. "Comparative Cost Analysis of Algal Oil Production for Biofuels," Energy (2011)

  29. "Techno-Economic Analysis of Autotrophic Microalgae for Fuel Production," Applied Energy (2011)

  30. Current Status and Potential for Algal Biofuels Production, IEA Bioenergy Task 39 Report (2010)

  31. "Betting on algal biofuels," IEEE Spectrum (2010)

View all NREL Publications for Philip T. Pienkos.