Welcome to the Sustainable & Synthetic Biology (SSB) group, led by Kyle Lauersen, in the Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering (BESE) Division of KAUST.

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The Sustainable and Synthetic Biotechnology (SSB) research group aims to develop resource-efficient bio-processes via genetic engineering and process design. Our work leverages the technologies collectively known as synthetic biology to turn microorganisms into powerful work-horses. A main research interest of the SSB is the engineering of microalgae as green cell factories for light-driven conversion of waste carbon streams (i.e. CO2) into valuable products.

Our interests include both fundamental and applied aspects of (trans)gene expression regulation, carbon metabolism, metabolic engineering, and to translate fundamental understanding into sustainable light-driven biotechnology concepts with green host organisms.

03 June, 2022

SSB Lab Visitors: Prof. Stephen Rader and Dr. Martha Stark

Professor Stephen Rader and Dr Martha Stark from the University of Northern British Columbia visited KAUST for a 2-week research stay at the SSB Lab. As experts in the field of the extremophile red alga Cyanidioschyzon merolae, they shared their knowledge about the species's cultivation and transformation methods. Professor Stephen Rader also gave an invited BioEngineering Seminar entitled: "What have introns done for you lately? Investigations of the function and evolution of introns in a new model system, the red alga Cyanidioschyzon merolae"

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26 April, 2022

News article: The future of algae – a treasure trove of green for the Kingdom

KAUST's microalgae bioprospecting research projects led by Professor Kyle Lauersen and Dr Claudio Grünewald are featured in a KAUST News article.

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31 March, 2022

MSc defences: Salma and Manar

SSB Lab students Salma AlKaff and Manar Shlbi successfully defended today their Bioengineering MSc theses entitled "A comparison of solvents for their suitability as solvent-culture two phase systems for living extraction of microbial isoprenoids using the green microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a model organism" (Salma) and "Investigation of heterologous expression of the non-ribosomal peptide blue pigment synthase and its activator from the nuclear genome of the model microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii" (Manar). We wish them both all the best in their future endeavors.

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30 November, 2021

KAUST Research Open Week

The SSB Lab was represented with a booth at this year's Research Open Week. Here, and during the poster session, members of the group showcased their latest microalgae research.

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09 June, 2021

SSB Lab Official Opening Ceremony

The Sustainable & Synthetic Biotechnology Lab was officially inaugurated today by KAUST President Tony Chan, Deans Pierre Magistretti and Samir Hamdan, and Professor David Keyes. After the official ceremony, several invited guests got a chance to join a guided tour of the state-of-the-art lab facilities.

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02 December, 2020

SSB participation at CCI

The SSB group was proud to be represented by Dr. Kyle Lauersen, Dr. Gordon Wellman and Lab Manager John Girgis at the Circular Carbon Initiative launch event. They presented 9 of the algal species that are currently being studied in the laboratory, and displayed a bioreactor prototype capable of cultivating high-value algal strains at high densities.

Dr. Kyle Lauersen was also invited to be one of the CCI on-screen presenters, with the video attached below.

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01 March, 2020

SSB Lab Visitor: Zeenat Rupawalla

Zeenat Rupawalla is a PhD Candidate in Professor Ben Hankamer's group in Australia. She and Prof. Lauersen met when they were working with Dr. Hankamer at the same time. Zeenat visited KAUST after being invited by the SSB lab as a speaker to deliver a talk titled "Development of high-throughput process to optimise microbes for biofertilizer applications."

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19 February, 2020

Panel Talk at Sci-Café

Prof. Lauersen had the absolute privilege of speaking on a panel along with Prof. Mani Sarathy and Dr. Thomas Finkbeiner. The panel was part of KAUST's Sci-Café initiative and the topic was 'Circular Carbon Economy.'

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16 February, 2020

SSB Lab Visitor: Dr. Julian Wichmann

Dr. Julian Wichmann is a Post-Doctoral Fellow, and was Prof. Lauersen's previous PhD student, at Bielefeld University. He visited KAUST after being invited by the SSB lab as a speaker to deliver a talk titled "Development of high-throughput process to optimise microbes for biofertilizer applications."Learning by building: Engineering light-driven green cell factories for the sustainable production of hydrocarbon chemicals enables understanding of metabolic architectures in eukaryotic algae".

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21 January, 2020

Algae talk at CBRC Research Conference

Prof. Lauersen had the absolute privilege of speaking about Algal medical applications, including wound healing and improving food quality, at the CBRC Digital Wellbeing conference today.

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15 January, 2020

Talk at NYUAD

Prof. Lauersen recently had the pleasure of speaking to a select few Post-Doctoral Fellows at NYUAD about his career trajectory and making the next jump in their academic careers. The food was plenty!

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09 January, 2020

SSB Lab Visitor: Dr. Jonas Frohwitter

Dr. Jonas Frohwitter is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Biberach University of Applied Science. He visited KAUST after being invited by the SSB lab as a speaker to deliver a talk titled "From Purple Bacteria to cell-free enzymatic systems: Industrial biotech in Biberach."

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02 December, 2019

SSB Lab Visitor: Dr. Boas Pucker

Dr. Boas Pucker just completed his PhD from Bielefeld University. He visited KAUST after being invited by the SSB lab as a speaker to deliver a talk titled "Computational approaches to study plant genomics and evolution."

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29 November, 2019

Talk at NEOM

Today, Prof. Lauersen had an opportunity to speak at NEOM to help the planners and organizers imagine a biology-inclusive design with his talk titled "Sustainability, Synethic Biology, and Applied Biotechnology: A Vision for NEOM." Only good things can come from collaborations between people working towards a progressive and wild future.

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29 October, 2019

Algae talk at RSRC Open Science conference

Prof. Lauersen had the absolute privilege of delivering The Red Sea Research Center's Open Science Conference Keynote Lecture, titled "Keynote Lecture: Exploring the potential of algae as a sustainable biotechnological production platform" today!

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27 October, 2019

SSB Lab Visitor: Dr. Dennis Dienst

Dr. Dennis Dienst received his PhD from Humboldt University of Berlin, and is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Uppsula University studying high density cultivation methods for microalgae. Dennis visited KAUST after being invited by the SSB lab as a speaker to deliver a talk titled "Towards improved microbial chassis for the photosynthetic production of terpenoids."

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23 October, 2019

SSB Lab Visitor: Liliana Calzadiaz Ramirez

Liliana Calzadiaz Ramirez is a PhD Candidate at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology. Liliana currently studies enzyme engineering, and visited KAUST after being invited by the SSB lab as a speaker to deliver a talk titled "Testing, Screening and Evolving NADPH-regenerating enzymes with an E. coli NADPH-sensor strain."

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21 October, 2019

Talk at Macquarie University in Sydney

Prof. Lauersen gave a talk at Macquarie University in Sydney Australia hosted by Prof. Ian Paulsen and Dr. Briardo Llorente. The talk was titled "Transforming Algae into a Sustainable Production Platform."

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17 October, 2019

Talk at the IMB in Brisbane

Prof. Lauersen gave a visiting lecture at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at University of Queensland, Brisbane, hosted by Prof. Ben Hankamer. His lecture was titled "Transforming Algae into a Sustainable Production Platform," and was focused on explaining the potential Algae hold as a biotechnology platform.

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13 October, 2019

SSB visits #SBA2019

In October, Prof. Lauersen had a chance to visit Dr. Claudia Vickers's team from Australia in Singapore, and then visited Australia directly, to learn more about the future of Synthetic Biology.

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11 October, 2019

SynCTI Meeting in Singapore

Prof. Lauersen today had the chance to deliver a talk at a conference in Singapore on the topic of "Future Trends in Synthetic Biology: Asian Perspectives." His talk was titled "Transforming Algae into a Sustainable Production Platform," and represented the Saudi Arabian and Persian Gulf potential for joining the Synthetic Biology revolution.

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16 September, 2019

Interview with EUSynBioS

On the latest “Young PIs” interview series, Konstantinos Vavitsas from EUSynBioS interviewed Prof. Lauersen based on his recent appointment as an Assistant Professor. Even though Konstantinos and Prof. Lauersen have published a paper together, it was their first chance to discuss science, algae, and the future at large together.

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