Claudia Schmidt-Dannert

Director of the Biotechnology Institute; Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophyscs
University of Minnesota

Building materials using biology

In biological systems, proteins, nucleic acids and lipids are precisely organized to form higher ordered structures across multiple length scales. Likewise, cells organize themselves into complex structures such as in biofilms. 

Harnessing the principles and mechanisms underlying the assembly and organization of natural living systems and materials therefore offers tremendous opportunities for the design and scalable fabrication of functional biomaterials with emergent properties, including remodeling, self-repair and healing. 

Our laboratory is exploring the design of self-assembling systems for a variety of applications. In one area of research, we are designing protein-based materials as platforms for biocatalysis and as funcitonal materials. Another area of research involves building materials with cells, including the design of living materials and most recently, functional biofilms. 

In this presentation I will present examples of our current and future work in this area.

Brett Barney

Bioproduct & Biosystems Engineering
University of Minnesota

Enhancing biological nitrogen fixation for sustainable agriculture

The Haber-Bosch process is a chemical engineering marvel that enabled the green revolution and supports about 50 percent of global food production through production of ammonia fertilizers.

Biological nitrogen fixation has been around for quite a bit longer, and has the potential to be harnessed to do more.

Our laboratory has been altering nitrogen-fixing microbes to generate improved biofertilizers. We recently shifted our efforts to replicate our work in endophyte microbes and better understand the mechanisms enabling certain plant growth promoting microbes to grow within the confines of plants. 

I will present a brief overview of the work going on related to this task.


Reception to follow