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Graduate Alumni Research Award Recipient: Jilai Zhou

Feb 11, 2015   |   by Jilai Zhou   |   The Graduate Forum

Jilai Zhou
Jilai Zhou, engineering PhD candidate

The Dartmouth Graduate Alumni Research Award is funded through the generosity of alumni of Dartmouth graduate programs. Every school year, graduate students can apply for funding of up to $1000 to support their thesis research.

Jilai Zhou is a PhD candidate at Thayer School of Engineering.

As a substitute for liquid transport fuel, bioethanol has become a focus in industrial biotechnology. Unlike the first generation bioethanol derived from feedstock, cellulosic ethanol not only reduces the dependency of fossil fuel and the carbon dioxide emission, but also avoids the consumption of starch or sugars important for humans. An efficient way to convert cellulose to ethanol at low cost is via consolidated bioprocessing (CBP).

Clostridium thermocellum, a gram-positive bacterium, is a candidate for CBP because of its ability to rapidly solubilize cellulose. However, C. thermocellum has a low ethanol yield when it ferments cellulose, and the main byproducts during the fermentation process are organic acids such as lactic acid, acetic acid and amino acid. My research focuses on developing new strains of C. thermocellum via metabolic engineering, enabling C. thermocellum to produce ethanol as the only organic product in the fermentation process.

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