At USDA, Stephen R. Hughes is responsible for optimizing genes and improving microbial strains to convert renewable agricultural materials into sustainable biofuels and commercial bio-based products that will increase profitability of biorefinery operations. This requires designing innovative high-throughput microbial gene expression systems combined with novel gene assembly and mutagenesis techniques adapted to automated platforms to create commercially viable stable industrial strains for converting biomass and oils to biofuels and generating high-value co-products from biorefinery processes. He collaborates with engineers and scientists in various disciplines at universities, industries, and government institutions to implement automated molecular biology protocols, develop optimized genes, create novel vectors, engineer host cell lines, and assist in designing integrated biorefinery platforms. He has directed international visiting scientists.
Steve is a recognized expert in protein expression, gene optimization, design of integrated robotic platforms for molecular biology procedures, and improvement of microbial strains for profitable biofuel production. He has been invited to give more than 20 international and national presentations. He is author on 47 peer-reviewed journal articles and 7 book chapters on biofuels and is listed as inventor on 4 patents. He is on the editorial board of 4 journals, has organized 5 CRADAs, 1 international, and participates in review panels for DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency Ė Energy, for USDA Research Position Evaluation System, and for NSF Center for Biorenewable Chemicals. He serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Bioprocessing Research and Development under the governorís initiative for economic development in South Dakota. Steve has directed research of student interns and has advised and graduated 5 MS students at Illinois State, SD State, SDSM&T, and Bradley University.
Microbial strains; Microbial gene expression systems; Bioprocessing research.