Michelle Chang, a professor of chemistry and chemical and biomolecular engineering at UC Berkeley, has been named the 2022 Centenary Prize winner(link is external) by the Royal Society of Chemistry for her “seminal contributions in biosynthesis and biocatalysis to advance energy and environmental science and biomedical research, and for excellence in communication.
Professor Chang stated, “I think the challenge before us is how we use chemistry to carry out industrial-scale processes like manufacture, farming, transportation, or waste management in ways that allow us to sustain the planet.”
A recent example of this approach was the exciting research announcement(link is external) from the labs of Professor Chang and University of Minnesota Professor Paul Dauenhauer last fall. Their results demonstrated the use of a dual cellular–heterogeneous catalytic strategy to produce olefins from glucose. Going forward, the process could allow for microbial production of a broad range of chemicals currently made from oil and gas – in particular, products like lubricants.
About Professor Chang’s research
Professor Chang is focused on biochemistry, chemical biology, and synthetic biology with an emphasis on designing new biosynthetic pathways for in vivo cellular production of biofuels and pharmaceuticals.
Her research laboratory utilizes the approaches of mechanistic biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, metabolic engineering, and synthetic biology to address problems in energy and human health. The group designs and creates new biosynthetic pathways in microbial hosts for in vivo production of biofuels from abundant crop feedstocks and pharmaceuticals from natural products or natural product scaffolds.
A unifying theme of her research is a focus on gaining a detailed molecular understanding of how living cells control enzymatic processes within the context of the entire metabolic network.