Michelle O'Malley

Assistant Professor

Contact

(805) 893-4769
3343 Engineering II
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5080

Assistant Contact Information: 

Allie Olympius
(805) 893-2214
allie@engineering.ucsb.edu
Engineering II, Room 3355

ChemE Research Areas: 

Honors: 

2017  Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award
2017  ACS Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) Young Investigator
2016  Colburn Lecturer, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Delaware
2016  Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)
2016  NSF CAREER Award
2015  MIT Technology Review, 35 Innovators Under 35
2014  Hellman Faculty Fellowship
2013  Department of Energy Early Career Award 
2011  U.S. Department of Agriculture-NIFA Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant
2011  Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Fellowship
2010  Company of Biologists International Travel Fellowship
2007  University of Delaware Department of Chemical Engineering Teaching Fellowship
2007  Merck Award for Best Overall Poster, Biochemical Engineering XV
2007  American Chemical Society Leadership Development Award
2006  NASA-Harriett G. Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship
2004  NSF-IGERT Predoctoral Fellowship in Biotechnology
2000  Presidential Scholarship, Carnegie Mellon University

Research Description: 

The O'Malley Lab works at the interface of engineering and biology to engineer microbes and consortia with novel functions. We are especially interested in deciphering how “unwieldy” microbes in the environment perform extraordinary tasks - many of these microbes have no available genomic sequence and are exceptionally difficult to manipulate. We seek a better understanding of how proteins are synthesized by cells, and how their three-dimensional structure informs their function would enhance our ability to engineer proteins (and cellular expression platforms) for diverse biomedical and biotechnology applications. To address these issues, our approach combines classical cell biology tools with cutting-edge technologies (genome sequencing, RNAseq, cellular reprogramming) that are rooted in the core biological sciences to interrogate and engineer molecular mechanisms that underlie protein production in eukaryotic cells. In addition, we rely on biophysical methods to elucidate protein-protein contacts, with the aim of controlling these interactions both in vivo and in vitro. Systems of interest to us have broad applicability to bioenergy and sustainability, as well as to drug development and detection.

Areas of interest:

  • Genetic and cellular engineering of anaerobic gut fungi
  • Synthetic anaerobic consortia for bioproduction and model development
  • Engineering synthetic fungal cellulosomes and novel biocatalysts
  • Membrane proteins for drug discovery, detection, and diagnostics
  • New membrane proteins for synthetic biology

Education: 

BS: Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University (2004)
BS: Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University (2004)
PhD: Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware (2009)

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