A new postdoc opening in the Synthetic Biology area

Nov 6, 2017

Shao group has a new postdoc opening in the area of synthetic biology, specifically related to elucidating generic design rules in exploring non-model microorganisms. Applicants should send a cover letter and CV to Dr. Zengyi Shao at

Shao group attended Spiegelman Symposium at University of Illinois

Oct 22, 2017

The Spiegelman Symposium is in honor of University of Illinois microbiologist Sol Spiegelman and his work with recombinant DNA technology. The picture below captured Shao group’s students standing in front of Dr. Shao ‘s last poster at Illinois when she was a postdoc there.

Aric won the first place in the perfect pitch competition at CBIRC annual meeting

Oct 20, 2017

Aric’s 90-sec perfect pitch entitled “Isogenic Consortia” won the first place in the Perfect Pitch Competition at CBiRC Annual Meeting in Oct. Well done, Aric!

Miguel won “Best of BIOT” award at ACS 2017

Aug 20, 2017

Miguel’s talk entitled “Multilevel Engineering of the Upstream Module of Aromatic Amino Acid Biosynthesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for High Production of Polymer and Drug Precursors” at the 2017 ACS National Meeting in San Francisco was awarded “Best of BIOT” by the Division of Biochemical Technology (BIOT). You rock, Miguel!

Research grant from NSF MCB division on studying nonconventional yeasts

Aug 20, 2017

Shao group was recently awarded a 3-year NSF grant on elucidating the core design principles to study novel high-performing yeast species that display highly desirable features that are not possessed by model yeasts.

The first two Ph.D. from Shao family

Miguel and Le successfully defended their thesis “Metabolic Engineering Strategies for High-level Production of Aromatic Amino Acid Pathway Derivatives in Saccharomyces cerevisiae” and “Exploring the Production of High-value Compounds in Plant Catharanthus roseus Hairy Roots and Yeast Yarrowia lipolytica”. Congratulations and best wishes to you two’s next journey!

Shao group and ESTose Biorenewables, LLC were awarded Regents Innovation Fund

July 1, 2017

This RIF grant will support the R&D of yeast-based microbial cell factories to produce plant-sourced natural products originated from aromatic amino acid pathways.

Mingfeng, Miguel, and Meirong ‘s patent was filed

June 30, 2017

Based on the great work of Mingfeng, Miguel, and Meirong, our group ‘s patent entitled “Building Yeast Factories for Production of Aromatic Compounds-from Building Blocks to Plant Secondary Metabolites” was filed (ISURF#04508, 2017).

ISU CBE faculty involved in outreach program at Saylorville Visitor Center Theater

July 1, 2017

A team led by Dr. Jarboe, Dr. Mansell, and Dr. Shao went to Saylorville Visitor Center Theater, discussing with the public audience about building biological factories for the production of medicines, fuels, and chemicals.

Qianhe will start her graduate school study at Northwestern University

June 15, 2017

After spending two years in our group doing research, our undergraduate student Qianhe will start her graduate school journey in the Fall of 2017 at Northwestern University. Go forward, Qianhe!

Deon was awarded the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

March 30, 2017

Deon was selected as the recipient of the prestigious NSF GRFP. Well done and big congratulations!

Carmen was awarded Trinect Fellowship

Dec 30, 2016

Carmen was selected as one of the recipients of the Trinect Fellowship to help support Des Moines Public School curriculum. She will cooperate with 3rd – 5th-grade teachers to incorporate engineering concepts into class material. The whole program was funded by NSF, aiming to create a new model to enhance elementary teachers’ preparedness to teach STEM subjects. Look forward to seeing a broader impact of our efforts!

Miguel was awarded Research Excellence Award

Dec 30, 2016

Miguel was selected as the 2016 recipient of the College of Engineering Research Excellence Award. Big congratulations!

Shao was appointed as Jack R. and Carol A. Johnson Faculty Fellow

Dec 30, 2016

Prof. Shao was nominated as the recipient of Jack R. and Carol A. Johnson Faculty Fellowship in 2017-2018.

Deon was awarded Presidential Fellowship

Dec 30, 2016

Welcome Deon to join Shao group. His strong academic background has made him the awardee of the 2017 Presidential Fellowship. Congratulations!


Shao was the recipient of Iowa Energy Center Impact Award

Dec 30, 2016

Prof. Shao was selected as one of the awardees of 2016 Iowa Energy Center Impact Award. She will present her group of research in Iowa Energy Summit in the Fall.

Welcome Yanzhen and Deon

Nov 30, 2016

Dr. Yanzhen Mei joined Shao group as a visiting professor. She is currently an associate professor in Nanjing Normal University and brings her expertise in the plant natural products area. Deon Ploessl will join our group as a new graduate student in the Spring of 2017. Welcome aboard!

Funding support from DOE

Sep 30, 2016

Joining a collaboration team led by Prof. Emily Smith in ISU Chemistry Department and Ames Lab, Prof. Shao received a 3-year funding support from DOE for studying plant cell wall deconstruction.

Yutong will start his graduate school study at Georgia Tech

Apr 15, 2016

After spending two years in our group doing research, our undergraduate student Yutong will start his Ph.D. journey in the Fall of 2016 at Georgia Tech. Go forward, Yutong!

Miguel was awarded GPSS Research Award

Apr 8, 2016

The Professional Advancement Grant Committee was impressed by Miguel’s outstanding work and contributions and selected him as one of the five awardees among the graduate students at Iowa State University. Congratulations!!

Miguel and John’s collaborative paper accepted as a front cover

Dec 25, 2015

Our group ‘s first research article entitled “Combining Metabolic Engineering and Electrocatalysis: Application to the Production of Polyamides from Sugar” was accepted by Angewandte Chemie International Edition and featured as the front cover. The article describes the collaborative project with Tessonnier and Cochran Groups.

Miguel ‘s patent was filed

Dec 16, 2015

Our group ‘s first patent entitled “Method to Produce Muconic Acid Using Yeast” was filed (ISURF#04379, 2015).

Funding support from NSF

Sep 01, 2015

Prof. Jarboe and Shao received a 3-year funding support from NSF CBET for engineering E. coli natural consortium.

Welcome Wan and Aric

July 01, 2015

Wan received her B.S. from Henan University in 2012, and M.S. from Peking Union Medical College in 2015. She was a visiting student in our group in 2014 and now officially joined the group as a Microbiology graduate student. Aric received his B.A. from Taylor University in 2011 and joined our group as a Microbiology graduate student, co-advised by Prof. Jarboe and Shao.

Funding support from CBiRC IAB

Feb 28, 2015

The group received another funding support from CBiRC Industry Advisory Board for improving dicarboxylic acid production in yeast.

Welcome Carmen

Nov 01, 2014

Carmen received her B.S. from Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in 2014. She came to Iowa State in the Fall of 2014 as a CBE graduate student.

Welcome Ian and Yutong

Aug 20, 2014

Ian and Yutong are CBE junior students and feel very interested in Biorenewables research.

Summer REU program

Aug 01, 2014

Nam Nguyen (from Des Moines Area Community College, BioMaP REU) and Elaine Butler (from Grand View University, CBiRC REU) did excellent jobs on their REU projects in Shao group mentored by Miguel and Lili. Nam and Elaine will apply for graduate schools after getting their B. S. degrees.

EPSCOR-Ames summer enrichment program

July 16, 2014

The program involved elementary-aged children in achieving a perspective to appreciate STEM fields through hands-on interactive experiments. A “Bacteria Club” was designed with the assistance of Korey and Laurel. Students had the opportunity to be directly involved in culturing bacteria on nutrient agar plates and perform experiments to evaluate bacterial resistance to various antibiotics.

Welcome Wan

June 01, 2014

Wan is currently a visiting student at Peking Union Medical College, working with Professor Zhaoyong Yang. She will spend one year in ISU working on a collaboration project on natural products.

Funding support from IEC

Feb 28, 2014

The group received a funding support from Iowa Energy Center opportunity grant for non-conventional yeast study.

Funding support from CBiRC IAB

Feb 28, 2014

The group received a funding support from CBiRC Industry Advisory Board for fatty acid sensor development.

Welcome Lili

Jan 16, 2014

Lili received her B.S. from University College Cork in 2008 and her M. S. from University College London in 2010. After working in industry for a few years, Lili decided to pursue her Ph.D. in ISU.

Welcome Meirong

Nov 01, 2013

Meirong received her B.S. from Xiamen University in 2010 and her M.S. from Shandong University in 2013. She is a CBE Ph.D. candidate, co-advised by Prof. Shanks and Shao.

Welcome Le

Sep 01, 2013

Le received her B.S. from Tsinghua University in 2011. She is a CBE Ph.D. candidate, co-advised by Prof. Shanks and Shao.

Welcome Laurel and Korey

July 01, 2013

Laurel and Korey are CBE senior students and feel very interested in Biorenewables research.

Funding support from PSI

Mar 16, 2013

The group received a funding support from ISU Plant Sciences Institute Biochemical Separations Initiative (Collaborate with Cochran Group and Wang Group, 2013-2016).

Welcome Mingfeng

Mar 01, 2013

Mingfeng received his Ph.D. from Nankai University in 2011. After graduation, he worked as a research scientist in Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology prior to joining our group as a postdoctoral research fellow.

Welcome Miguel

Jan 01, 2013

Miguel received his B.S. from Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in 2012. He came to Iowa State in the Fall of 2012 and is currently a CBE Ph.D. candidate.

Shao group is established at ISU

January 01, 2013

Dr. Zengyi Shao joined Iowa State University, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE) as an assistant professor. She is also affiliated with the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) and Interdepartmental Microbiology Program.