Dr.Paul J.A. Kenis: Microchemical Systems for CO2 Reduction, Crystallization, and Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing

Abstracpic3t: Micro-chemical systems have potential for a wide range of applications. This presentation will cover three examples: Electroreduction of
CO2, protein/pharmaceutical crystallization, and antibiotic susceptibility testing.

Multiple strategies, such as switching to renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency for buildings and transportation, will need to be pursued to curb the increase of the atmospheric CO2 levels which has been associated with the undesirable effects of climate change.  In this seminar I will highlight our recent efforts in the conversion of CO2 into value-added chemicals such as CO, ethylene and ethanol, as an additional approach to reduce CO2 emissions.  This presentation will cover our latest catalysts (metal nanoparticles, organometallic compounds, metal-free systems), electrodes, and operating conditions (different electrolyte compositions), for example for the conversion of CO2 to CO, which can be used for synthetic fuel production via the Fischer-Tropsch process.

The second part will focus on microfluidic platforms for crystallization, for screening and analysis of (membrane) protein crystals and of solid forms of pharmaceuticals.  These array chips drastically reduce the amount of material needed thus many more conditions can be screened and by allowing for on-chip characterization they eliminate manual handling of fragile crystals.  We have successfully identified crystallization conditions of novel proteins, followed by successful on-chip X-ray structure determination.  Similar chips can be used for solid form screening (salts, polymorphs, …) of candidate drugs and subsequent on-chip analysis of the solid forms with Raman or X-ray.

The third section will focus on microfluidic chips for antibiotic susceptibility testing of polymicrobial cultures.  Conventional methods to determine the appropriate antibiotic and associated minimum inhibitory concentration often require more than a day, delaying the start of appropriate treatment. The microfluidic approach presented here enables determining MICs within 4 hours, and can be used to study the interplay between different bacteria.


Bio: Dr.Paul J.A. Kenis is the William H. & Janet G. Lycan Professor and Head of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his B.S. in Chemistry from Nijmegen-Radboud University and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Twente University, both in the Netherlands. After a Postdoc at Harvard University with George Whitesides he joined the faculty at Illinois in 2000.

His research at Illinois focuses on microchemical systems for applications in energy and biology including microfuel cells, electrolyzers for CO2 conversion, and microreactors for radiolabeling of biomolecules and continuous flow synthesis of quantum dots, as well as microfluidic platforms for solid form screening of pharmaceuticals, for crystallization of proteins, for antibiotic susceptibility screening, and for cell biology studies. In particular, he is a leading researcher in the area of CO2 utilization for synthesis of chemicals and fuels. Overall, he has authored about 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, and his work has led to multiple patents, several of which have been licensed for commercialization.

His research has been recognized through a 3M young faculty award, a NSF CAREER award, a Xerox Award, as well as a best paper award from the Separations Division of AICHE and the Alan MacDiarmid Best Paper Award from the Society for Experimental Biology & Medicine. In 2011 he was named a University Scholar and he became the Head of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering. In 2013 he was appointed as the William H. & Janet G. Lycan endowed Professor.