Mark Blenner (Principal Investigator)

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Associate Professor, University of Delaware (Jan 2021)
McQueen Quattlebaum Associate Professor
ACS BIOT 2020 Program Chair
AIChE Division 15C 2022 Program Chair
PECASE Awardee, 2019
Chemical & Biomoelcular Engineering
Biological Sciences (Microbiology Program) by Courtesy
Postdoc Harvard Medical School, 2012
Ph.D. Columbia University, 2009
B.S Manhattan College, 2004

Dr. Blenner is broadly interested in how biological systems can be engineered for a variety of applications in chemical production, biopharmaceuticals, and biosensor development. His group generates the foundational knowledge and synthetic biology tools to speed the design, build, test cycle for cell types including bacteria, yeast, and mammalian cells. He views the most important part of his job as helping students develop as independent critical thinkers through independent and team-based research. Dr. Blenner has won numerous awards including the PECASE, South Carolina Governor's Young Scientist Award for Excellence in Scientific Research, the 2019 Clemson University Junior Researcher of the Year, the NIH Outstanding Investigator Award, the NASA Early Career Faculty Award, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award.             

 


Graduate Students & Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Ayushi Agrawal


B.S. (Chemical Engineering) SRM University, 2016
M.S. (Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering) Rutgers University, 2019

Project: Natural Product Metabolic Engineering

 

 

 

Vijay Ganesesn


B.S. (Chemical Engineering) Anna University, 2014
M.S. (Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering) Rutgers University, 2017

Project: Natural Product Metabolic Engineering

 

 

 

Maxwell Hilbert

B.S. (ChE) Virginia Tech, 2013
M.Eng. (ChE) University of Maryland, 2016

Projects: Engineering Enzyme Immobilization Strategies.

 

 

 

Shoaib Iqbal, Ph.D.

Pharm.D. (Pharmacy) University of Sargodha, Pakistan, 2010
Ph.D. (Biomaterials) University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, 2018

Projects: Drug and Protein Delivery Across the Blood Brain Barrier
(Co-advised with Dr. Jessica Larsen and Dr. Angela Alexander Bryant)

 

 

Stephen Lee

B.S. (ChE) University of Arizona, 2018

Projects: Engineering aromatic metabolism in oleaginous yeast

 

 

 

Xiaoming Lu, Ph.D.

B.S. (Biology) East China Normal University, 2004
Ph.D. (Genomics) East China Normal University, 2011

Projects: Mammalian Artificial Chromosomes
(Co-advised with Dr. Birtwistle)

 

 

 

Joshua Mentzer

B.S. (ChE) University of Arkansas, 2020

Projects: Mammalian cell engineering and synthetic biology

 

 

 

Chris Nauman, Ph.D.

Ph.D. (Molecular Biology annd Biochemistry) University of Missouri - Kansas City, 2020

Projects: Production of Macronutrients from Single-Use Plastic Waste Using Yeast

 

 

 

Dyllan Rives

B.S. (ChE) Auburn University, 2015
DOE GAANN Fellow

Project: Engineering Protein Secretion Across Eukaryotic Cells

 

 

 

Jyoti Singh, Ph.D

B.S. (Biotechnology) Shobhit University, 2011
Ph.D. (Biotechnology) IIT Roorkee, 2019

Project: Engineering Macronutrient Production from Plastic Waste  

 

 

 

Siva Somsundaram, Ph.D

B.S. (Biotechnology) Pondicherry University, 2011
Ph.D. (Biotechnology) University of Ulsan, 2018

Project: Metabolic Engineering of Oleaginous Yeast.

 

 

 

Michael Spagnuolo

B.S. (ChE) Ohio State University, 2007
M.S. (ChE) Akron University, 2011

Project: Metabolic Engineering of Oleaginous Yeast.

 

 

 

Weigao Wang

B.S. (BioE) Henan University, 2012
M.S. (Fermentation Eng.) Jiangnan University, 2015

Project: Engineering Extremophile Enzymes.

 

 

 

Molly Wintenberg

B.S. (ChE) University of Tennessee Knoxville, 2015

Project: Engineering Radiation Biosenors.

 

 

 

Allison Yaguchi

B.S. (ChE) Virginia Commonwealth University, 2014
2019 GAANN Fellow
2019 DOE SCGSR Fellow

Project: Engineering Aromatic Metabolism in Oleaginous Yeast

 

 

 

Zhiliang Yang

B.S. (Bioengineering) Sichuan University, 2009
Ph.D. (ChE) University of Ottowa, 2017

Project: Metabolic Engineering of Oleaginous Yeast for Natural Products.

 

 

 


Undergraduate Research Assistants & Lab Technician

Rachel Ham

B.S. (Biological Sciences) Clemson University, 2018
M.S. (Biological Sciences) Clemson University, 2020
Hometown: TBD

Lab Technician

 

 

 

Hayden Tharpe

B.S. (ChE) Clemson University, 2022
Hometown: Easley, SC

Project: Split Protein Biosensors

2020-2021 Beckman Scholar

 

 

 


Creative Inquiry & EUREKA Students

Ahmad Alquza

B.S. (BioE) Clemson University, 2023
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, SC

Project: COVID-19 Assay Development

 

 

 

Sierra Gurtler

B.S. (BioSci) Clemson University, 2021
Hometown: Charleston, SC

Project: Engineering Protein Secretion in CHO Cells

 

 

 

Julia Martone

B.S. (ChE) Clemson University, 2022
Hometown: North Kingstown, RI

Project: Engineering biopharmaceutical production

 

 

 

Amy Rees

B.S. (BioSci) Clemson University, 2021
Hometown: Loganville, GA

Project: COVID-19 Assay Development

 

 

 

Tatum Sass

B.S. (Biochemistry & Genetics) Clemson University, 2021
Hometown: Frisco, TX

Project: COVID-19 Assay Development

 

 

 


Lab Alumni

A. Nolan Wilson (2013-2014)

Ph.D. (ChBE) Clemson University, 2014
Project: Molecular Control Loops in Bioresponsive Hydrogels for Drug Delivery
M.S. (ChBE) Clemson University, 2012
B.S. (ChE) Auburn University, 2007

Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Natioanl Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)

 

 

Erika Arvay (2014-2017)

B.S. (ChE) Clemson University, 2017
Hometown: Columbia, SC

Project: Engineering Direct Biofuel Production in Bacteria.

Current Position: PhD Student (Tyo Group) - Northwestern University

 

 

Yancey Appling (2013)

B.S. (Microbiology) Clemson University, 2013
Hometown: Six Mile, SC

Project: Engineering microbial metabolism of aromatic compounds.

Current Position: Eastman Chemical, Lab Technician

 

 

Adam Beitz (2017-2019)

B.S. (ChE - BMOLE) Clemson University, 2019
Hometown: Seneca, SC

Project: Yeast Surface Display

Current Position: PhD Student (Galloway Group) - MIT

 

 

 

David Carey (2013-2014)

B.S. (ChE - BMOLE) Clemson University, 2014
Hometown: Greenville, SC

Project: Microbial Metabolism of Aromatic Compounds

Current Position: Triple C Brewing

 

 

 

Taylor Cook (2013-2015)

B.S. (ChE - BMOLE) Clemson University, 2015
Hometown: Sumter, SC

Project: Engineering Metabolic Biosensors

Current Position: PhD Student (Pfleger Group) - University of Wisconsin

 

 

Lauren Gambill (2014-2017)

B.S. (Genetics) Clemson University, 2017
Hometown: Columbia, SC

Project: Metabolic Engineering of Oleaginous Yeast.

Current Position: PhD Student (Chappell Group) - Rice University

 

 

Dr. Difeng Gao (2015-2018)

Ph.D. (Biological & Agricultural Engineering) Washington State University, 2014
M.S. (Biological & Agricultural Engineering) Washington State University, 2012
B.S. (Bioengineering) Northwest A&F University, 2009

Project: Yeast Metabolic Engineering, Consolidated Bioprocessing
Current Position: Biomedican, Inc.

 

 

Kaelyn O'Neill (2017-2018)

B.S. (ChE - BMOLE) Clemson University, 2018
Hometown: Clarksburg, MD

Project: Engineering Aromatic Metabolism

 

 

 

Dr. Gabriel Rodriguez (2014-2017)

Ph.D. (Chemistry) University of California Davis, 2014
B.S. (Chemistry) Florida International University, 2008

Project: Engineering Metabolic Biosensors & Lipid Metabolism

Current Position: Ginkgo Bioworks - Boston, MA

 

 

Murtaza Shabbir-Hussain (2013-2017)

Ph.D. (ChE) Clemson University, 2017
B.S. (ChE) University of Wyoming, 2011

Thesis Title: Expanding The Genetic Toolbox To Improve Metabolic Egnineering In The Industrial Oleaginous Yeast, Yarrowia Lipolytica

Current Position: Zymergen - Emeryville, CA

 

 

Spencer Smith (2015 - 2018)

B.S. (Biochemistry) Clemson University, 2017
Hometown: Franklin, IL

Project: Metabolic Engineering of Oleaginious Yeast.

Current Position: PhD Student- Arizona State University

 

 

Sam Williams (2013-2015)

B.S. (ChE ) Clemson University, 2015 (Microbiology, Minor)
Hometown: Rock Hill, SC

Project: Engineering Biocatalytic Production of Dicarboxylic Acids

 

 

William "Dubby" Wiseman (2014-2016)

B.S. (ChE - BMOLE) Clemson University, 2016
Hometown: Blythewood, SC
Project: Metabolic Engineering of Oleaginous Yeast

Past Position: MS Student (Jewett Group) - Biotechnology Program - Northwestern
Current Position: Zymergen, Emeryville, CA

 

 

Scott Anglin (2017-2019)

B.S. (Env. Biology) University of Southern MIssissippi, 2011
M.S. (Mol. Biology) University of Southern MIssissippi, 2014

Project: Metabolic Engineering Tools for Oleaginious Yeast.

Current Position: Ask Biosciences

 

 

Meredith Bailey (2016-2019)

B.S. (ChE - BMOLE) Clemson University, 2019
Hometown: Greenville, SC

Project: Metabolic Engineering of Oleaginous Yeast

Current Position: Ph.D. student (Lee Group)- Dartmouth University

 

 

 

Charles Wang (2018-2020)


B.S. (Chemical Engineering) Vanderbilt University, 2016

Project: Mammalian Cell Synthetic Biology (Co-advised by Dr. Birtwistle)

 

 

 

Valerie Peters (2019)

B.S. (BioSci) Clemson University, 2019
Hometown: Nashua, NH

Project: Engineering Protein Secretion in CHO Cells

 

 

 

Tara Richbourg (2018 - 2020)  

B.S. (Biochemistry) Clemson University, 2020
Hometown: West Columbia, SC

Project: Engineering Protein Secretion in CHO Cells

Current Position: Ph.D. program (Pathology) - Duke University   

 

 

Sarah Smith (2017; 2019-2020)

B.S. (Chemical Engineering - BMOLE) Clemson University, 2019
Hometown: Greenville, SC

Lab Manager

Current Position: Lab Manager - Stanford University   

 

 

 

Other Former Research Students: Vaishnavi Kanduri, Mariana Holladay, Simon Ciprari, Jude de Konig, Will Burnette, Patrick Dayton, Chlo Forenzo, Cooper Tillman, Joel Watkins, David Kindervater, Matt Brabender, Brice Martin, Lane Norris, Tae Watts, Anna Delahunt, Sarah Dorsey, Sara Edgecomb, Samantha Hutter, Luke Mabry, Melissa Nolan, Gabby Mochizuki, Caroline Peak, Mitchell Angove, Lexie Adams (Miami), Nicky Franaszek, Zach Williamson, Sean Miller, Morgan Usher, Mia Maciorowski, Cheyanne Brady, Camillo Susecum, Braxton Baird, Grant Smith, Peyton Hudson, Jennider Cabezas, Sarah Smith, Jillian Laird, Danielle Acker, Elizabeth Huntley, Jenna Schoefield (MSU), Jack Tabb, Erin Mihealsick, Alana Robinson, Phillip Baker, Kaitlyn Scola, Robert Barrett, Vineeth Sama, Tanner Karp, Kylie Burkes, Caroline Moody (NCSU), Emma Ressler, Michael Xie (Ohio), Shanna Pearce, Will Hardy, Mary Kate Rumph, Tiffany Yu, Jeremy Fowler, Sarah Knowles, Parker Hume, Julia Borglin, Jessica Zielinski, Kyle Pazzo, Hayden Campbell, Justin James, Jacob Livingston, Jeanette Rodriguez, Meg Wilkes, Andrew Dippre, Joseph Whitaker, Charlie Kessler, Kyle Reed, Katie Stahel, Megan Stahlberger, Mohit Gahndi, Patricia Jokl, Joseph Redzikowski, James Foster, Thomas Pavelka, Lauren Reed, Thomas Stanton, Joy Jones, Dennish Parekh, Syed Bukhari