Curtis talks microbial genetics and engineering on ASM podcast


“How does an engineer approach microbial research?”

This is the question raised in an episode of the American Society for Microbiology’s (ASM) podcast Meet the Microbiologist, and answered by podcast guest Wayne Curtis, Penn State professor of chemical engineering. Curtis appeared on an episode of the podcast titled “Microbial Engineering for Biofuels and Beyond with Wayne Curtis.”

Curtis discussed with ASM podcast host Julie Wolf how an engineer approaches the use of microorganisms for practical applications with real world benefits. The narrative focuses on his research using diverse bacteria such as Rhodobacter, Cyanobacteria and Clostridium to create novel biofuels metabolic pathways, as well as Agrobacterium and plant viruses for crop protection using insect-delivered "gene therapy."

Curtis describes his research in the context of the breadth of interdisciplinary collaborators and a philosophy that involves heavy participation of undergraduates.

“In contrast to a class, where you have someone telling you what to learn, in a research setting you have a lot more flexibility,” Curtis said in the podcast. “So I’d like to encourage students to look for that, and commit some time. Really take advantage of that unique experience you can get by doing something hands on—and don’t undersell what you can contribute.”

Listen or subscribe to the podcast here.


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Jamie Oberdick



The Penn State Department of Chemical Engineering, established in 1948, is recognized as one of the largest and most influential chemical engineering departments in the nation.

The department is built upon the fundamentals of academic integrity, innovation in research, and commitment to the advancement of industry.

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