The Biocatalysis sessions of SIMB cover the fundamental and applied science of enzyme characterization, design, improvement, biomass conversion, and view the microbe as a catalyst for industrial applications. Topics cover protein structural biology, computational modeling, biochemical lignocellulosic conversion, P450s, enzymes from extremophiles, and microbial conversion in native and engineered pathways. Biocatalysis is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly practice and its industrial application can reduce the cost compared to strictly thermochemical processes as the result of higher selectivity and diverse condition optima, while reducing the reaction time, production costs and industrial waste. This topic area will focus on current success and future outlooks for biocatalysis applications in the production of various goods ranging from conventional metabolites, proteins, food, drugs, fuels and industrial chemicals.
The environmental microbiology sessions encompass all aspects of how microorganisms interact with, and impact both the natural and built environments. A large focus of the sessions will be how microorganisms transform, sequester, or otherwise attenuate anthropogenic contaminants in groundwater, wastewater, surface water, and geologic solids. Basic mechanisms of microbial contaminant transformation, as well as applications of the technologies are discussed. Additionally, there will be specific emphases on combined microbial-chemical reactions in both natural and contaminated environments. Additional topics will address nutrient recovery, containment and tracking of engineered microorganisms, and the value of “meta” data to all environmental microbiology research projects and/or applications.
Fermentation & Cell Culture
The Metabolic Engineering sessions of SIMB cover the fundamental approaches, tools, and applications associated with strain engineering for fuels and chemicals production. These sessions are designed to span the gamut from emerging areas including synthetic biology and non-conventional organisms to industrial demonstrations of mature technologies leading to saleable products. Demonstrations of applied metabolic engineering approaches for the rewiring of cellular organisms to new chemicals and bioproducts are central themes within this area.
The Natural Products sessions of SIMB cover basic and applied science surrounding natural products from biological sources. Subject matter includes enzymology, biochemistry, genomics, and ecology within natural product research. This program area specifically focuses on natural products from plant, microbial, and eukaryotic sources in addition to engineering-biology applications of biosynthesis. Natural products continue to serve as an important source of chemical diversity, only a fraction of which has been effectively explored using cultivation-dependent approaches.
Tools to Fight Biases in the Workplace and Scientific Community
The world of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is constantly evolving to find new solutions and tools effective at reducing unconscious biases. Studies have increasingly shown the importance of these efforts in the sciences, where expanding the inclusivity and diversity of workplaces has had direct effects on boosting the diversity of thought and accelerating innovation. In this session, Audrey Parangan-Smith, PhD [Assistant Director of SF BUILD (Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity) at San Francisco University] and Janie Pinterits, PhD [Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Program Manager at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab] will discuss the tools they have found useful in their programs and lead interactive discussions on implementation and use of these tools in the workplace and scientific community.