Biofuels and Carbohydrates Laboratory (Zhang Lab)

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Brief Biography

(2-page NSF-format CV)

Contact Information

Prof. Dr. Y-H Percival Zhang

304 Seitz Hall, Biological Systems Engineering Department (Campus email: 0303)

Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA

Phone: 540-231-7414; Fax: 540-231-3199

Email: ypzhang at VT.EDU


Dr. Yi-Heng Percival Zhang (张以恒) is an associate professor with tenure in the department of Biological Systems Engineering of Virginia Tech (USA). He joined Virginia Tech as a tenure-tracked assistant professor in Aug. 2005. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, he was a research scientist (2004-2005), postdoc associate (2002-2004), Ph.D. student at Dartmouth College (2002), working with a biofuel pioneer – Prof. Lee R. Lynd. He received his degrees of bachelor (1993) and master (1996) in biochemical engineering department of East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai, China.

His major research goals are (i) replacing crude oil with sugars and (ii) feeding the world by out-of-the-box solutions . For implementing Goal One, his research topics cover biomass pretreatment and saccharification, biorefinery design, cellulase engineering, cellulose hydrolysis modeling, consolidated bioprocessing microorganism development, synthetic biology (in vitro and in vivo), and energy efficiency analysis. For example, he has achieved the highest yield of hydrogen production from sugars (e.g., starch, cellulose, xylose, sucrose, etc.). What is more important, a significant amount of hydrogen can be generated from low-temperature waste heat without a temperature gradient. For implementing Goal Two, he accomplished low-cost conversion of non-food cellulose to edible starch for the first time (see PNAS paper) and is working on in vitro artificial photosynthesis for CO2 fixation (see EES paper). In a word, he is a pioneer of in vitro synthetic biology, a new high-product yield and low-cost biomanufacturing platform.

He has published 100+ peer-reviewed journal papers and 10 invited book chapters, and filed 10+ patents disclosures. He has a SCI citation of more than 3,500 and an H-index of 29 (Feb. 2014). Five of the patent disclosures have been licensed to four biofuels companies (Mascoma, BioMethodes/Optafuel, Gate Fuels, Cell Free Bioinnovations). He received several distinctions, such as College of Engineering Faculty Fellow Award (Virginia Tech, 2011), Biotechnology and Bioengineering Daniel IC Wang Award (ACS BIOT, 2010), Sunkist Young Designer Award (2009), College of Engineering Outstanding New Faculty Award (Virginia Tech, 2008), BP young scientist Award (2008), Dupont Young Faculty Award (2008), Air Force Young Investigator Award (2008), ACS PRF New Faculty Award (2007), Best and Bright People of Year 2006 by Esquire, Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (2006), to name a few.

Prof. Zhang is teaching courses: