Brett Barney

Brett Barney


Associate Professor
Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering

PhD, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Arizona State University, 2003

Research Interests

Biosynthetic pathways for commodity fuels and high-value products from bacteria and algae. Organisms from extreme environments and applications of these species in bioprocessing. Detailed understanding of symbiotic relationships between algae and bacteria. Basic evolutionary techniques related to novel protein design (directed evolution).


Brett Barney’s lab seeks to understand the role of select bacteria and algae in biosynthetic pathways, the biological nitrogen cycle, and biodegradation. He teaches courses focusing on the application of engineering principles in biological processes, 3D printing biomolecular models, and recycling raw materials.

BTI’s Graduate Degree in Microbial Engineering welcomes new students and director

As Daniel Bond (BTI/Microbiology) takes over as the Graduate Degree in Microbial Engineering’s (MicE) Director of Graduate Studies, the program also welcomes two new students Komal Joshi, a native of India, and Stephen Michel from Laramie, Wyoming.

Joshi holds a Bachelor of Technology degree in Biotechnology from the National Institute of Technology in Raipur, India. Passionate about microbiology, Joshi looks forward to beginning her coursework and research at the University.

Michel graduated from the University of Wyoming with a BS in Molecular Biology. Stephen who moved to Minnesota with his wife Olivia, is excited about the MicE program,
which combines many of his academic interests with the opportunity to apply those interests in the lab.

Three students also graduated from the MicE program in 2013:

Eric Lenneman who studied wax ester production in Marinobacter aquaeolei in the Barney Lab, successfully defended his master’s thesis this summer.

Josh Goldford, also graduated from the MicE program. In the Liboural Lab Josh focused on development of an automated platform for the identification and quantification of isotopically enriched peptides applicable to any experimental technique that uses stable isotopes and proteomics to report on cellular metabolism. Josh is currently working towards his PhD in Bioinformatics at Boston University.

In Ping Wang’s lab, Mitch Hoverman’s work focused on synthesizing nanoparticles embedded with active enzymes used in the bioactivation of active chemotherapeutic agents. Hoverman’s goal is to provide site-specific targeting of the drug activating nanoparticles, in order to reduce the dosage and toxic side effects of chemotherapy. BTI wishes Mitchell luck as he pursues a career in analytical chemistry.

Bond takes over the MicE program from Romas Kazlauskas (BTI/Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics) who led the program from 2007-2012 and will now serve as Director of Graduate Studies in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics.

“Microbiology is changing rapidly.” Bond notes, “What sets this degree apart is its flexibility. Recent students have created interdisciplinary research programs combining microbiology with computer science, bioinformatics, or ecology. The MicE program will continue evolving to reflect new possibilities emerging in Microbial Engineering.”