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A senior research fellow in the Biosciences Center, Dr. Michael Himmel has more than 35 years of experience in conducting, supervising, and planning research in: protein biochemistry, recombinant technology, enzyme engineering, new micro-organism discovery, and physicochemistry of macromolecules.
Dr. Himmel has supervised research that targets the application of site-directed mutagenesis and rational protein design to the stabilization and improvement of important industrial enzymes, especially glycosyl hydrolases. He has functioned as PI for the DOE EERE Office of the Biomass Program (OBP) since 1992, and his responsibilities have included: research to improve cellulase performance; reducing biomass pretreatment costs; and improving yields of fermentable sugars. Dr. Himmel also developed new facilities at NREL for biomass conversion research, including a Cellulase Biochemistry Laboratory, a Biomass Surface Characterization Laboratory, a Protein Crystallography Laboratory, and a new Computational Science Team.
During the past three decades, Dr. Himmel contributed 345 peer reviewed journal articles to the literature. In addition, he has edited eight books and been awarded 25 patents. He has organized or co-organized 15 international conferences on aspects of biotechnology and biomass conversion. In 2008, Dr. Himmel edited a new book for Blackwell Publishers entitled "Biomass Recalcitrance," which is listed as a top selling book in science and has now been translated into Chinese. He served as chair for the new Gordon Research Conference on cellulases and cellulosomes in 2003 and continues to support the conference. Dr. Himmel currently works closely with the biomass conversion industry, as demonstrated by the numerous CRADAs currently underway in his NREL laboratory.
Energy research represents a major focus for BNL over the next decade. We are using a multifaceted approach driven by the unique state-of-the art laboratory facilities and the inter-disciplinary expertise of our scientific staff to solve fundamental questions regarding U.S. energy independence and to translate discoveries into deployable technologies. The laboratory has identified several energy focus areas – including biofuels, complex materials, catalysis, and solar energy.
BNL's one-of-kind user facilities include the National Synchrotron Light Source II NSLS-II, which produces extremely bright beams of x-ray, ultraviolet, and infrared light for scientists exploring materials—including superconductors, catalysts, geological samples, and proteins—to accelerate advances in energy, environmental science, and medicine. Scientists at our Center for Functional Nanomaterials create materials and explore their unique structure and properties at the nanoscale, with a focus on more efficient solar and energy storage materials. And at BNL's Northeast Solar Energy Research Center, where researchers from labs, academia, and industry study test new solar technologies, working to make solar "power plants" more efficient and economical
In addition to fundamental research, the laboratory actively collaborates with industry and other academic institutions to bring the benefits of scientific discoveries to the marketplace. Brookhaven's Office of Strategic Partnerships integrates Brookhaven Lab's industry engagement, technology licensing, and economic development functions to expand the impact of collaborative research and technology commercialization. Strategic Partnerships supports the Laboratory's science mission through identifying, pursuing and managing partnerships with a broad set of private-sector companies, federal agencies, and non-federal entities. For information on licensing and industry.
- Basic science: seeks to understand how nature works. This research includes experimental and theoretical work in materials science, physics, chemistry, biology, high-energy physics, and mathematics and computer science, including high performance computing.
- Applied science and engineering helps to find practical solutions to society’s problems. These programs focus primarily on energy resources, environmental management and national security.
Dr. Guarnieri is a research scientist with experience in biochemistry and molecular genetics, biophysics, and structural biology. Dr. Guarnieri's prior research included examining viral secretions and virus-host interactions.
At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Dr. Guarnieri uses a systems biology approach—utilizing functional genomic, molecular, and biophysical techniques to identify, analyze, and engineer pathways involved in algal, bacterial, and fungal hydrocarbon and biochemical production. His current research interests include:
- Biocatalysis of methane to liquid fuels and chemicals,
- Biological upgrading of sugars to value-added chemicals in yeast and bacterial systems,
- Algal omics, protein engineering, and signal transduction,
- Biological deconstruction and upgrading of lignin, and
- Metabolic and protein engineering for enhanced hydrocarbon production.
For more information about Dr. Guarnieri's research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, please see his summary here.