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David Nielsen

Associate Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 6106
Senior Global Futures Scientist
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 6106
Assistant Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 6106
Biography: 

David Nielsen an associate professor and undergraduate program chair for chemical engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy at Arizona State University.

Nielsen's research interests include developing microbial platforms and biotechnologies to convert renewable resources into useful fuels and chemicals. His group works at the interface of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, while also incorporating key elements of industrial and applied microbiology, ‘re-programming’ microorganisms to carry out various functions of interest.

https://nielsenlab.engineering.asu.edu

 

Education: 
  • Postdoc, MIT, 2006-2009
  • Ph.D., Queen’s University at Kingston 2006
  • B.Sc., University of Colorado-Boulder 2001
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Nielsen Lab Research Team - Summer 2019

Nielsen Lab Research Team - Summer 2019
Research Interests: 

Metabolic Engineering

Synthetic Biology

Biofuels and Biochemicals

Small Molecule Transporter Proteins

Microbial Communities

Publications: 

Recent Publications

 

Machas, M., Kurgan, G., Abed, O., Shapiro, A., Wang, X., Nielsen, D.R.* (2021), Escherichia coli’s Transcriptional Response to Different Styrene Exposure Modes Reveals Novel Toxicity and Tolerance Insights, J. Ind. Microbiol. Biotechnol., 105:1147–1158.

Jones, C.M., Korosh, T.C., Nielsen, D.R., Pfleger, B.F.* (2021), Optimization of a T7-RNA Polymerase System in Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 Mirrors the Protein Overproduction Phenotype from E. coli BL21(DE3), Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol.Accepted.

Bu, G., Simmons, C., Nielsen, D.R., Nannenga, B.* (2020), Tetragonal crystal form of the cyanobacterial bicarbonate transporter regulator SbtB from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, Acta Crystallogr. F, 76(9).

Bu, G., Parrish, S., Gleason, P., Nielsen, D.R., Nannenga, B.* (2020), Heterologous expression and purification of the bicarbonate transporter BicA from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, Protein Expr. Purif., 175:105716.

Flores, A.D., Choi, H.G., Martinez, R.M., Onyeabor, M., Ayla, E.Z., Godar, A., Machas, M.S., Nielsen, D.R.*, Wang, X.* (2020), Catabolic Division of Labor Enhances Production of D-Lactate and Succinate from Glucose-Xylose Mixtures in Engineered Escherichia coli Coculture Systems, Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol., 8:329

Sarnaik, A.P., Liu, A., Nielsen, D.R., & Varman, A.M.* (2020), High-Throughput Screening for Efficient Microbial Biotechnology, Curr. Opin. Biotechnol., 64:131-150.

Flores, A.D., Wang, X., Nielsen, D.R.*, (2019) Recent Trends in Integrated Bioprocesses: Aiding and Expanding Microbial Biofuel/Biochemical Production, Curr. Opin. Biotechnol., 57:82-87.

Machas, M., Kurgan, G., Jha, A., Flores, A., Schneider, A., Coyle, S., Varman, A., Wang, X., Nielsen, D.R.*, (2019) Emerging Tools, Enabling Technologies, and Future Opportunities for the Bioproduction of Aromatic Chemicals, J. Chem. Technol. Biotechnol., 94:38-52.

Flores, A.D., Ayla, E.Z., Nielsen, D.R., & Wang, X.*, (2019) Engineering a Synthetic, Catabolically-Orthogonal Co-Culture System for Enhanced Conversion of Lignocellulose-Derived Sugars to Ethanol, ACS Synth. Biol., 8(5):1089-1099.

Kurgan, G., Panyon, L., Rodriguez-Sanchez, Y., Pacheco, E., Nieves, L., Mann, R., Nielsen, D.R., Wang, X.*, (2019) Bioprospecting of native efflux pumps to enhance furfural tolerance in ethanologenic Escherichia coliAppl. Environ. Microbiol., 85(6). pii: e02985-18.

Schulz, T.C., Thompson, S.T., Oelschlager, M., Nielsen, D.R., Vermaas, W., Lamb, H.H.*, (2018) Catalytic Conversion of Cyanobacteria-Derived Fatty Acids to Alkanes for Biorenewable Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene, Sus. Energy Fuels, 2:882-893.

Thompson, B., Pugh, S., Machas, M., Nielsen, D.R.*, (2018) Muconic Acid Production via Alternative Pathways and a Synthetic ‘Metabolic Funnel’, ACS Synth.Biol., 7(2):565-575.

Machas, M., Thompson, B., McKenna, R., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2017) Expanding Upon Styrene Biosynthesis to Engineer a Novel Route to 2-Phenylethanol, Biotechnol. J., 12:1700310.

Staggs, K.W., Qiang, Z., Madathil, K., Gregson, C.T., Xia, Y., Vogt, B.D., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2017) High Efficiency and Facile Butanol Recovery with Magnetically Responsive Micro/Mesoporous Carbon Adsorbents, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 5(1):885-894.

Godeshala, S., Nitiyanandan, R., Thompson, B., Goklany, S., Nielsen, D.R., and Rege, K.*, (2016) Folate Receptor-targeted Aminoglycoside-derived Polymers for Transgene Expression in Cancer Cells, Bioeng. Transl. Med., 1(2):220–231.

Tan, Z., Yoon, J.M., Nielsen, D.R., Shanks, J.V., and Jarboe, L.R.*, (2016) Membrane Engineering via Trans Unsaturated Fatty Acids Production Improves Escherichia coli Robustness and Production of Biorenewables, Metab. Eng., 35:105-113.

Thompson, B., Machas, M., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2016) Engineering and Comparison of Non-Natural Pathways for Microbial Phenol Production, Biotechnol. Bioeng., 113(8):1745-1754.

Lian, J., McKenna, R., Nielsen, D.R., Brown, R., Wen, Z., and Jarboe, L.*, (2016) Production of Biorenewable Styrene: Utilization of Biomass-Derived Sugars and Insights into Toxicity, J. Ind. Microbiol. Biotechnol., 43(5):595-604.

Pugh, S., McKenna, R., Halloum, I., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2015) Engineering Escherichia coli for renewable benzyl alcohol production, Metab. Eng. Comm., 2:39-45.

McKenna, R., Moya, L., McDaniel, M., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2015) Comparing In Situ Removal Strategies for Improving Styrene Bioproduction, Bioproc. Biosys. Eng., 38(1):165-174.

Staggs, K. and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2015) Improving n-Butanol Production in Batch and Semi-Continuous Processes through Integrated Product Recovery, Proc. Biochem., 50(10):1487-1498.

Halloum, I., Thompson, B., Pugh, S., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2015) Activity of Lactobacillus brevis alcohol dehydrogenase on primary and secondary alcohol biofuel precursors, Fermentation, 1(1):24-37.

Thompson, B., Machas, M., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2015) Creating Pathways Toward Aromatic Building Blocks and Molecules, Curr. Opin. Biotechnol., 36:1-7.

Thompson, B., Moon, T.S., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2014) ‘Hybrid’ Processing Strategies for Expanding and Improving the Synthesis of Renewable Bioproducts, Curr. Opin. Biotechnol., 30: 17-23.

Pugh, S., McKenna, R., Osman, M., Thompson, B., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2014) Rational Engineering of a Novel Pathway for Producing the Aromatic Compounds p-Hydroxybenzoate, Protocatechuate, and Catechol in Escherichia coli, Proc. Biochem., 49:1843-1850.

McKenna, R., Thompson, B., Pugh, S., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2014) Rational and Combinatorial Approaches to Engineering Styrene Production by Saccharomyces cerevisiaeMicrob. Cell Fact., 13:123.

Claypool, J., Raman, D.R.*, Jarboe, L.J., Nielsen, D.R., (2014) Technoeconomic Evaluation of Bio-Based Styrene Production by Engineered Escherichia coli, J. Ind. Microbiol. Biotechnol., 41(8):1211-1216.

Wiehn, M., Staggs, K., Wang, Y., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2014) In Situ Butanol Recovery from Clostridium acetobutylicumFermentations by Expanded Bed Adsorption, Biotechnol. Progr., 30(1):68-78.

Wiehn, M., Levario, T.J., Staggs, K., Linneen, N., Wang, Y., Pfeffer, R., Lin, Y.S., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2013) Adsorption of Short-Chain Alcohols by Hydrophobic Silica Aerogels, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 52(51):18379-18385.

McKenna, R., Pugh, S., Thompson, B., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2013) Microbial Production of the Aromatic Building-Blocks (S)-Styrene Oxide and (R)-1,2-Phenylethanediol from Renewable Resources, Biotechnol. J., 8(12):1465-1475.  

Wang, B., Pugh, S., Nielsen, D.R., Zhang, W., and Meldrum, D.*, (2013) Engineering Cyanobacteria for Continuous Production of 3-Hydroxybutyrate Directly from CO2, Metab. Eng., 16:68-77.

Yuan, W., Wiehn, M., Wang, Y., Kim, H.W., Rittmann, B.E., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2013) Solid-Phase Extraction of Long-Chain Fatty Acids from Aqueous Solution, Sep. Purif. Technol., 106:1-7.

Adkins, J., Jordan, J., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2013) Engineering Escherichia coli for Renewable Production of the 5-Carbon Polyamide Building-Blocks 5-Aminovalerate and Glutarate, Biotechnol. Bioeng., 110(6):1726-1734.  

Nielsen, D.R.*, and Moon, T.S., (2013) From Promise to Practice. The Role of Synthetic Biology in Green Chemistry, EMBO Reports, 14(12):1034-1038.  

Adkins, J., Pugh, S., McKenna, R., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2012) Engineering Microbial Chemical Factories to Produce Renewable ‘Biomonomers’, Front. Microbio. 3:313.

Levario, T.J., Dai, M., Yuan, W., Vogt, B.D., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2012) Rapid Adsorption of Alcohol Biofuels by High Surface Area Mesoporous Carbons, Micropor. Mesopor. Mat., 148(1):107-114.

McKenna, R. and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2011) Styrene Biosynthesis from Glucose by Engineered E. coliMetab. Eng., 13(5): 544-554.  

Pugh, S., McKenna, R., Moolick, R., and Nielsen, D.R.*, (2011) Advances and Opportunities at the Interface Between Microbial Bioenergy and Nanotechnology, Can. J. Chem. Eng., 89: 1-12.  

Yeom, S.H., Daugulis, A.J.*, and Nielsen, D.R., (2010) A Strategic Approach for the Design and Operation of Two-phase Partitioning Bioscrubbers for the Treatment of Volatile Organic Compounds, Biotechnol. Progr., 26(6):1777-1786.

Yeom, S.H., Daugulis, A.J.*, and Nielsen, D.R., (2010) Estimating the cellular maintenance coefficient and its use in the design of two-phase partitioning bioscrubbers, Bioproc. Biosyst. Eng., 33(6):731-739.

 

 

Research Activity: 

Current and Past Funded Research Projects

 

Title: IRES: Track I: Exploring Biobased Plastics and Materials through Collaborative Research in Japan

Investigators: Nielsen, D.*, Acharya, A., Varman, A.M., Green, M., Wang, X.

Source: NSF, OISE-1952507

Dates: Aug. 2020 – Aug. 2023

 

 

Title: Strain Investigation and Development

Investigators: Nielsen, D.*

Source: Sustainable Conversion Ventures (Industry)

Dates: Mar. 2019 – Feb. 2022

 

 

Title: Multi-pronged approach to improving carbon utilization by cyanobacterial cultures

Investigators: Vermaas, W.*, Nielsen, D., Wang, X., McGowen, J., Weiss, T.

Source: DOE, EERE

Dates: Oct. 2018 – Sept. 2021

 

 

Title: A machine-learning algorithm to identify transporters of aromatic bioproducts for the food industry

Investigators: Wang, X*, Nielsen, D.

Source: Ajinomoto Inc. (Industry)

Dates: Aug. 2018 – July. 2019

 

 

Title: SusChEM: Biological Auto-Enhancement of CO2 Absorption for Improved Cyanobacterial Growth and Biofuel Production

Investigators: Nielsen, D.*, Vermaas, W.

Source: NSF, CBET-1705409

Dates: July 2017 – June 2021

 

 

Title: Direct Photosynthetic Production of Biodiesel by Growth-Decoupled Cyanobacteria

Investigators: Nielsen, D., Wang, X., Vermaas, W.*

Source: DOE, EERE

Dates: Sept. 2016 – Aug. 2018

 

Title: Enhancing Microbial Flavonoid Production with Synthetic Biology

Investigators: Nielsen, D.*

Source: Ajinomoto Inc. (Industry)

Dates: April 2016 – April 2018

 

Title: SusChEM: Enhancing Tolerance and Performance of a Renewable Aromatic Biorefinery

Investigators: Nielsen, D.*, Wang, X.

Source: NSF, CBET-1511637

Dates: June 2015 – May 2019

 

Title: Managing the Microbial Ecology of a Cyanobacteria-Based Photosynthetic Factory Direct!

Investigators: Rittmann, B.*, Krajmalnik-Brown, R., Lind, M., Nielsen, D.R., Torres, C., Vermaas, W.F.J.

Source: Dept. of Energy, Golden Office

Dates: Dec. 2012 – Nov. 2014

 

Title: Collaborative Research: High Surface Area Mesoporous Carbons for Facile Biofuel Recovery from Dilute Aqueous Solution

Investigators: Nielsen, D.R.*

Source: NSF, CBET-1159200

Dates: Aug. 2012 – July 2016

 

Title: Cyanobacteria designed for solar-powered highly efficient production of biofuels

Investigators: Vermaas, W.F.J.*, Rittmann, B., Nielsen, D.R., Roberson, R.

Source: Dept. of Energy, ARPA-E

Dates: Mar. 2012 – June 2013

 

Title: Continuous Ethanol Fermentation and Recovery using an Improved Zeolite Membrane Bioreactor 

Investigators: Nielsen, D.R.*, Lin, J.Y.S.

Source: NSF, CBET- 1067684

Dates: Apr. 2011 – Mar. 2015

 

Title: Cyanobacteria designed for solar-powered highly efficient production of biofuels 

Investigators: Vermaas, W.F.J.*, Curtiss, R., Krajmalnik-Brown, R., Rittmann, B., Nielsen, D.R., Roberson, R.

Source: Dept. of Energy, ARPA-E

Dates: Oct. 2009 – Apr. 2012

 

Fall 2021
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 451Chemical Engineering Lab II
CHE 484Internship
CHE 492Honors Directed Study
MBB 495Undergraduate Research
CHE 499Individualized Instruction
CHE 592Research
CHE 599Thesis
CHE 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
Summer 2021
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 484Internship
BDE 792Research
CHE 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
Spring 2021
Course NumberCourse Title
ASU 101-CHEThe ASU Experience
CHE 484Internship
CHE 492Honors Directed Study
CHE 493Honors Thesis
CHE 494Special Topics
CHE 579Microbial Bioprocess Eng
CHE 592Research
CHE 593Applied Project
CHE 599Thesis
BDE 792Research
CHE 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
BDE 799Dissertation
Fall 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 451Chemical Engineering Lab II
CHE 484Internship
CHE 492Honors Directed Study
CHE 493Honors Thesis
MBB 495Undergraduate Research
BME 592Research
CHE 592Research
CHE 593Applied Project
CHE 599Thesis
BME 599Thesis
CHE 792Research
BME 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
Summer 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 451Chemical Engineering Lab II
CHE 484Internship
CHE 499Individualized Instruction
CHE 593Applied Project
BDE 792Research
CHE 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
Spring 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 484Internship
CHE 492Honors Directed Study
CHE 493Honors Thesis
CHE 494Special Topics
BME 592Research
CHE 592Research
CHE 593Applied Project
CHE 598Special Topics
CHE 599Thesis
BME 599Thesis
CHE 792Research
BDE 792Research
BME 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
BDE 799Dissertation
Fall 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 451Chemical Engineering Lab II
CHE 484Internship
CHE 492Honors Directed Study
CHE 493Honors Thesis
MBB 495Undergraduate Research
BME 592Research
CHE 592Research
CHE 593Applied Project
CHE 595Continuing Registration
BME 599Thesis
CHE 599Thesis
CHE 792Research
BME 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
Summer 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 451Chemical Engineering Lab II
CHE 484Internship
CHE 593Applied Project
CHE 595Continuing Registration
CHE 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
Spring 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 484Internship
CHE 492Honors Directed Study
CHE 493Honors Thesis
CHE 494Special Topics
CHE 592Research
BME 592Research
CHE 593Applied Project
CHE 598Special Topics
BME 599Thesis
CHE 599Thesis
BDE 792Research
CHE 792Research
BME 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
Fall 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 492Honors Directed Study
CHE 493Honors Thesis
MBB 495Undergraduate Research
BME 592Research
CHE 592Research
CHE 593Applied Project
CHE 595Continuing Registration
CHE 599Thesis
BME 599Thesis
CHE 792Research
BME 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
Summer 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 451Chemical Engineering Lab II
CHE 484Internship
CHE 593Applied Project
CHE 595Continuing Registration
CHE 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
Spring 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 484Internship
CHE 492Honors Directed Study
CHE 493Honors Thesis
CHE 494Special Topics
CHE 592Research
BME 592Research
CHE 593Applied Project
CHE 598Special Topics
BME 599Thesis
CHE 599Thesis
BME 792Research
CHE 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 484Internship
CHE 492Honors Directed Study
CHE 493Honors Thesis
MBB 495Undergraduate Research
CHE 498Pro-Seminar
CHE 592Research
CHE 593Applied Project
CHE 595Continuing Registration
CHE 599Thesis
CHE 792Research
CHE 799Dissertation
Summer 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 484Internship
CHE 499Individualized Instruction
CHE 593Applied Project
CHE 595Continuing Registration
CHE 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
CHE 484Internship
CHE 492Honors Directed Study
CHE 493Honors Thesis
CHE 494Special Topics
CHE 592Research
CHE 593Applied Project
CHE 598Special Topics
CHE 599Thesis
CHE 792Research
CHE 795Continuing Registration
CHE 799Dissertation
Honors / Awards: 

Fulton Exemplar Faculty, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University, 2018

Outstanding Professor, Chemical Engineering Program, Arizona State University, 2010-2011

 

Editorships: 

Biotechnology Notes

Editorial Board, 2019-Pres.

 

Frontiers in Microbiology

Associate Editor, 2013-2019 

Review and Guest Associate Editor, 2010-2013

 

Professional Associations: 

American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), 2002–Pres.

Society of Biochemical Engineering (SBE), 2011–Pres.

International Metabolic Engineering Society (IMES), 2013–Pres. 

Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC), 2019–Pres. 

Society of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (SIMB), 2013–Pres.

American Heart Association (AHA), 2015–2016.