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Photo of Stephen R. Decker

Steve Decker

Group Research Manager III-Molecular Biology

Steve.Decker@nrel.gov | 303-384-7759
Orcid ID http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7002-9034

Research Interests

  • Cellulase engineering and synergy for biomass conversion

  • Lab automation and high throughput screening

  • Fungal molecular biology and fermentation

  • Non-dilute acid pretreatment technologies

  • Cellulose nanocrystal applications


Affiliated Research Programs

  • Enzyme Engineering and Optimization (PI)

  • BioEnergy Science Center – Biomass Recalcitrance (project lead)

  • BioEnergy Science Center – Enzymatic Fundamentals (contributor)

  • DSM TSA (PI)

  • Targeted Microbial Deconstruction (contributor)

  • Cellulosic Nanocrystals (contributor)

  • Biological & Catalytic Conversion of Sugars & Lignin (collaborator)

  • Computational Modeling (collaborator)


Areas of Expertise

  • Protein Biochemistry:

    • Enzyme assays and kinetics

    • Protein engineering

    • Protein expression and purification (fungal/yeast/bacterial)

    • Fungal transformation

    • Enzyme synergy/optimization for hydrolysis of biomass

    • Cellulase biochemistry

    • Protein production through fermentation up to 100L scale

  • Biomass Conversion:

    • Functional understanding of multiple biomass pretreatment strategies (acid/alkaline/neutral)

    • Detailed knowledge of biomass-hydrolyzing enzyme function and interaction with biomass feedstocks

    • Experience with numerous feedstock types

  • Project and Personnel Management:

    • Coordinate scientists and engineers with diverse backgrounds to solve complex problems

    • Plan budgets and annual operating plans

    • Develop productive and cooperative relationships with internal and external (including international) partners

    • Plan and meet milestones

    • Obtain funding through various granting agencies and partners

    • Recurring Program Chair/Co-Chair for the annual Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals (˜700 attendees)

  • Unique Problem-Solving Abilities:

    • Innovative and successful approaches to HTP screening in biomass recalcitrance

    • Development of a robust Trichoderma reesei expression system for Cel7 and other proteins

    • Direct and systematic solving of research roadblocks through logic and out-of-the-box thinking


Education

  • Ph.D., Microbiology, Colorado State University, 1996

  • M.S., Microbiology, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, 1993

  • B.S., Biology, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, 1988


Professional Experience

  • Principal Scientist/Section Supervisor, National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), Project Leader in BioEnergy, Science Center, Subtask Leader for Advanced Biological Deconstruction, 2013–present

  • Senior Scientist II, NREL, Subtask Leader for Oligomer Saccharification, Task Leader for joint DOE/USDA projectEdenspace CRADA, Other Research Skills and Experience, 20072013

  • Senior Scientist, NREL, Subtask Leader for Hemicellulase and Accessory Enzymes, 20022006

  • Staff Scientist II, NREL, 19992002

  • Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, NREL, 19961999

  • Adjunct Faculty, Red Rocks Community College, 20002004


Patents

  1. "Multi-Chamber Pretreatment Reactor for High Throughput Screening of Biomass," U. S. Patent Application 20100105570 (2010)

  2. "Processing Cellulosic Biomass," WIPO PCT Application PCT/US2009/048153, U. S. Patent Application 20120040408 (2009)

  3. "Cellobiohydrolase I Enzymes," U. S. Patent Application 20090162916 (2009)

  4. "Superactive Cellulase Formulation Using Cellobiohydrolase-1 from Penicillium funiculosum," U.S. Patent No. 8,283,150 (2012)

  5. "Superactive Cellulase Formulation Using Cellobiohydrolase-1 from Penicillium funiculosum," U.S. Patent No. 7,449,550 (2008)

  6. "Thermal Tolerant Exoglucanase from Acidothermus cellulolyticus," U.S. Patent No. 7393673 (2008)

  7. "Cellobiohydrolase I gene and improved variants," U.S. Patent No. 7375197 (2008)

  8. "Thermal Tolerant Cellulase from Acidothermus cellulolyticus," U.S. Patent No. 7059993 (2006)

  9. "Alkaline Tolerant Dextranase from Streptomyces anulatus," U.S. Patent No. 6509184 (2003)

  10. "Cellulase Animation," U.S. Copyright. Registration Number PAu-2-568-364 (2001)

View all NREL patents for Stephen R. Decker.


Featured Publications

  1. "A constitutive expression system for glycosyl hydrolase family 7 cellobiohydrolases in Hypocrea jecorina," Biotech. Biofuels (2015)

  2. "Downregulation of GAUT12 in Populus deltoides by RNA silencing results in reduced recalcitrance, increased growth and reduced xylan and pectin in a woody biofuel feedstock," Biotech. Biofuels (2015)

  3. "Rapid estimation of sugar release from winter wheat straw during bioethanol production using FTIR-photoacoustic spectroscopy," Biotech. Biofuels (2015)

  4. "Field evaluation of transgenic switchgrass plants overexpressing PvMYB4 for reduced biomass recalcitrance," BioEnergy Research (2015)

  5. "Heterologous protein expression in Hypocrea jecorina: an historical perspective and new developments," Biotechnol. Adv (2015)

  6. "Transgenic switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) biomass is increased by overexpression of switchgrass sucrose synthase (PvSUS1)," Biotechnol. J. (2014)

  7. "Identification and characterization of core cellulolytic enzymes from Talaromyces cellulolyticus (formerly Acremonium cellulolyticus) critical for hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass," Biotech. Biofuels (2014)

  8. "A thermodynamic investigation of the cellulose allomorphs: cellulose(am), cellulose Iβ(cr), cellulose II(cr), and cellulose III(cr)," J. Chem. Therm. (2015)

  9. "Predicting enzyme adsorption to lignin films from enzyme surface hydrophobicity," J. Biolog. Chem. (2014 accepted)

  10. "Evaluation of high throughput screening methods in picking up differences between cultivars of lignocellulosic biomass for ethanol production," Biomass and Bioenergy (2014)

  11. "Effect of Mechanical Disruption on the Effectiveness of Three Reactors Used for Dilute Acid Pretreatment of Corn Stover Part 2: Morphological and structural substrate analysis," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2014)

  12. "Fungal cellulases and complexed cellulosomal enzymes exhibit synergistic mechanisms in cellulose deconstruction," Energy Environ. Sci. (2013)

  13. "Biomass Conversion," Handbook of Industrial Chemistry and Biotechnology (12th ed.) (2007)

  14. "Considering water activity and the effect of soluble species on high solids saccharification of lignocellulosic biomass," Biotechnol. Prog. (2012)

View all NREL Publications for Stephen R. Decker.


Please contact me with research questions, ideas for collaborations, and questions about the Biomass Program and Recalcitrance Pipeline. 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.