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Faculty - Robert Kelly

Robert Kelly photo
bullet Alcoa Professor
bullet Director, NC State Biotechnology Program

B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Virginia (1975)
M.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Virginia (1976)
Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University (1981)
rmkelly (@ncsu.edu)
919-515-6396 (office phone)
(lab phone)
919-515-2324 (fax)
Partners II Building, Centennial Campus 3313 (office)
bullet Honors & Awards
bullet Publications
bullet Patents
bullet Research Website

Focus Areas
Biomolecular Engineering. Biocatalysis at Extremely High Temperatures. Microbial Physiology. Functional Genomics. Bioenergy and Biofuels.

Current Projects
We are interested in the genomics, physiology, enzymology and biotechnological potential of microorganisms that thrive in extreme environments, i.e., extremes in temperature, pressure, pH, ionic strength, etc. Our primary focus is on extremely thermophilic microorganisms, which are isolated from geothermal sites and volcanic regions and typically have optimal growth temperatures above 70C. Because of the high temperatures at which these bacteria and archaea can be cultured, they produce highly thermostable enzymes that hold promise as biocatalysts. Metabolic pathways encoded in the genomes of extreme thermophiles have great potential for technologically important biotransformations. Molecular genetics systems have recently become available for several extreme thermophiles, thereby creating opportunities for metabolic engineering and synthetic biology at high temperatures.

Our research efforts are aimed at the interface between biology and engineering. We have addressed issues of fundamental importance in understanding the bioenergetics, biochemistry, physiology and genomics of extreme thermophiles. These studies have given rise to a number of technologically important developments related to bienergy and biofuels, recovery of base, precious and strategic metals from ores, and industrial biocatalysis. Students involved in this research should expect to develop expertise in biochemistry, biophysics, microbiology, molecular biology, and genomics to complement their training in biomolecular engineering.

Honors & Awards
bullet 2011 Chair, Academic Advisory Board, Society for Biological Engineering, AIChE
bullet 2009 Alcoa Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (renewal)
bullet 2007 AIChE Food, Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering (Division 15) Award
bullet 2007 Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor Award
bullet 2007 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
bullet 2004 American Chemical Society Marvin J. Johnson Award for Biochemical Technology
bullet 2002 RJ Reynolds Tobacco Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research and Extension
bullet 1996 Fellow, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)