Seung Hwan “Allen” Lee
Email: ls1 [at] mit [dot] edu
Seung Hwan “Allen” Lee was born and raised in South Korea, followed by Dubai, UAE to spend his high school, before moving to the United States for college and graduate school. Allen has a strong passion in leveraging the capabilities of engineering biology to convert wastes into products closing the carbon loop from the chemical and fuel production. He has a special interest in engineering one-carbon (C1) metabolism for efficient utilization of C1 feedstock in biomanufacturing. His research experience with C1 metabolism started during his undergraduate research at UCLA under the guidance of Professor James Liao, where he worked on the implementation of heterologous methanol assimilation pathway (RuMP cycle) in E. coli. During his PhD research at Rice University under Professor Ramon Gonzalez, he had an instrumental role in developing synthetic, orthogonal C1 utilization pathways, Formyl-CoA elongation (FORCE) pathways, which enable a carbon and energy-efficient conversion of C1 compounds to various value-added small molecules. He also led the research in developing tools and platforms to improve FORCE pathways and other metabolic pathways, encompassing identification of efficient pathway enzymes, optimizing relative expression levels, and improving pathway flux via adaptive laboratory evolution.
As a postdoctoral assocaite in the Stephanopoulos Lab at MIT, Allen continues to engage in accomplishing sustainable biomanufacturing not only in utilization of sustainable feedstock but also in engineering efficient bioenergy production to “upgrade” low-energy feedstock to high-energy products. He is also looking into expanding the host engineering experience from a model bacterium (E. coli) to yeast (Y. lipolytica) and non-mode bacteria (acetogens).