Photo of Pin-Ching Maness

Pin-Ching Maness

Contingent Worker-Emeritus Researcher


Research Interests

  • Biological H2 production from renewable resources

  • Syngas fermentation to hydrocarbon biofuels

  • Pathway engineering, regulations, and systems biology

  • Enzyme catalysis and mechanisms

  • Bioreactor development

Affiliated Research Programs

  • Fermentative H2 production (PI)

  • Photobiological H2 production (PI)

  • Biosystems design and synthetic biology (PI)

  • Consolidated bioprocessing to hydrocarbon biofuels (PI)

  • Electron bifurcation and catalysis (co-PI)

  • Syngas fermentation (co-PI)

Areas of Expertise

  • Microbial strains development

    • Rubrivivax, Synechocystis, Clostridium, Ralstonia

  • Biological H2 production

    • Nitrogenase-mediated pathways

    • Hydrogenase-mediated pathways

    • Metabolic pathways, regulations, systems biology

  • Syngas fermentation

    • CO dehydrogenase, hydrogenase, kinetics, regulations

    • Regulations, energy conservation

  • Electron bifurcation and catalysis

    • Bifurcation catalysis and mechanism

    • Electron transfer network

  • Synthetic biology

    • Biosystems design principles for ethylene production

  • Bioreactors development

    • Syngas and lignocellulose fermentation


  • M.S., Computer Information Systems, University of Denver, 2000

  • M.S., Microbiology, Indiana State University, 1976

  • B.S., Botany, National Taiwan University, 1974

Professional Experience

  • Principal Group Manager, Photobiology Group, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) 2013Present

  • Principal Scientist and Section Supervisor, NREL, 20072013

  • Detailee, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, 20062007

  • Senior Scientist, NREL, 19972007

  • Staff Scientist, NREL, 19911997

  • Associate Scientist, NREL, 19811991

  • Research Specialist, University of California at Berkeley, 19761981


  1. "Biological production of organic compounds," U.S. Patent No. US2013/0203136 A1 (2013)

  2. "Photoconversion of gasified organic materials into biologically-degradable plastics," U.S. Patent No. 5250427 (1993); International Patent number WO 94/00559 (1994)

Featured Publications

  1. "Genome Annotation Provides Insight into Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen Metabolism in Rubrivivax gelatinosus," PLOS ONE (2014)

Illustration of a model of carbon monoxide and hydrogen signaling and metabolic network in the photosynthetic bacterium Rubrivivax gelatinosus. The model is initiated by both carbon monoxide and hydrogen sensing followed by their metabolism via the different enzymes and pathways in support of H2 production.

  1. "Engineered xylose utilization enhances bio-products productivity in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803," Metabolic Engineering. (2015)

Illustration showing how the engineered cyanobacterium Synechocystis converts carbon dioxide and biomass-derived xylose (shown as a photo of a combine in a corn field) to renewable biofuels and biochemicals (shown as a photo of a gas pump).

Additional Publications

  1. "The plasticity of cyanobacterial metabolism supports direct CO2 conversion to ethylene," Nature Plants (2015)

  2. "Comparison of transcriptional profiles of Clostridium thermocellum grown on cellobiose and pretreated yellow poplar using RNA-Seq," Front Microbiol. (2014)

  3. "Genome annotation provides insights into carbon monoxide and hydrogen metabolism in Rubrivivax gelatinosus," PLOS ONE (2014)

  4. "Ethylene-forming enzyme and bioethylene production," Biotech. Biofuels (2014)

  5. "Sustained photosynthetic conversion of CO2 to ethylene in recombinant cyanobacterium Synechocystis 6803," Energy Environ. Sci. (2015)

  6. "Genetic analysis of the Hox hydrogenase in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 reveals subunit roles in association, assembly, maturation, and function," J. Biol. Chem. (2012)

  7. "Heterologous expression of Alteromonas macleodii and Thiocapsa reseopersicina [NiFe] hydrogenases in Synechococcus elongatus," PLOS One (2011)

  8. "The role of the bidirectional hydrogenase in cyanobacteria," Bioresour. Technol. (2011)

  9. "Characterization of genes responsible for the CO-linked hydrogen production pathway in Rubrivivax gelatinosus," Appl. Environ. Microbiol. (2010)

View all NREL Publications for Pin-Ching Maness.

Awards and Honors

U.S. Department of Energy Merit Award (2015)

Please contact me with research questions, ideas for collaboration, and proposal solicitations. Please do NOT contact me directly for jobs—see instead information on NREL's Director's Postdoctoral Fellowship program or on NREL Careers in general.