Post Doc position open at Iowa State

Employing Department Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology
Appointment Conditions Full time appointment ending one year from start date.
Proposed Start Date March 1, 2013
Job Description A postdoctoral position is open in the laboratory of Dr. Adam W. Barb at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa to conduct research on redesigning enzyme specificity. Dr. Barb is conducting collaborative research in the field of biorenewable chemicals. Microbial polyketide synthesis is being explored as a renewable and cost-effective source of chemical precursor compounds for the chemical industry. The goal of this research is to engineer enzymes to accept unnatural, noncognate substrates with significant potential for further chemical or enzymatic modification. The successful candidate will work in a highly collaborative environment inside and outside of the lab, be responsible for presenting research findings, and contribute to future research proposals. This investigation is funded by a grant from the Center for BioRenewable Chemicals, centered at Iowa State University (see for more information). Experience in biomolecular NMR spectroscopy OR protein biochemistry/enzymology is required. For more information on Dr. Barb’s research see
Required Qualifications Applicant must have Ph.D and a strong background in Biochemistry, Microbiology or a related field.
Preferred Qualifications Experience in enzymology and biophysical analysis of proteins OR biomolecular NMR spectroscopy is
preferred. The candidate must be willing to learn new techniques.
Salary $45,000
Special Conditions The initial appointment is for one year with the possibility of renewal. 
Health and retirement benefits are
provided with the position.
Review of applications will continue until a suitable candidate has been
Application Instructions Please submit a cover letter, a complete CV, a brief description of research experience, and the names and contact information of three references to 
Thank you for your interest in the postdoctor research associate position. Our screening and selection process is currently underway and will continue un a successful candidate is chosen. Should our review of your qualifications result in a decision to pursue your candidacy, we will contact you in the near future. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Adam Barb at
To ensure consideration,
submit application by:


Innovation Pitch Competition

For ISU entrepreneurs; this is an opportunity to pitch your business idea and win a cash prize! Full details and application are in the link below:

Tuesday, March 20, 6 to 8 pm
Delta Upsilon Fraternity House – 117 Ash Avenue
Home of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Learning Community

Last day for online registration – March 9

Students may also apply for:
Pappajohn New Venture Business Plan Competition – Deadline to file Intent is February 29; Plans due March 28

John & Mary Pappajohn Scholarship Program – Deadline March 19

Okoboji Entrepreneurship Institute – Deadline March 23

Upcoming talks of interest for Iowa State CBiRC students

Hydraulic Fracturing: Potential Impacts on Drinking Water – Stephen Osborn

Thursday, February 23, 2012, 7:00 PM @ Sun Room, Memorial Union  – Stephen Osborn is a hydrogeologist with an expertise in natural gas geochemistry and water quality issues specific to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. He was the lead author on a recent study at Duke University that shows methane contamination of drinking water associated with shale-gas extraction in northeastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York. Osborn is currently an assistant professor in the Geology Department at California State Polytechnic University Pomona. He has also worked as a consultant, conducting hydrogeologic and environmental investigations in the northeastern and southwestern United States. Osborn holds a Master’s degree in soil science from the University of California at Riverside and in geology from Georgia State University. He earned his PhD from the University of Arizona.


Energy Sustainability in a Changing World – BP Chief Scientist Ellen D. Williams

Monday, February 27, 2012, 8:00 PM @ Great Hall, Memorial Union  – Ellen Williams to serves as Chief Scientist at British/Beyond Petroleum. BP is the third largest oil company and the fifth largest corporation on the planet, and as BPπs Chief Scientist Ellen plays a role in determining how developments in science and technology can contribute to sustainable, secure and environmentally responsible energy. She will discuss specific examples of carbon capture and storage, as well as biofuels.  She is on leave from the University of Maryland where she is Distinguished University Professor of Physics and director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.

Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

If you’re interested in starting a business with the technology you’ve discovered in your research, the good news is that there are a lot of people who want to help you!

Startup City

This is a Des Moines based company that helps new businesses get started by providing them with an office. If you are in the area, need some mentoring from seasoned businessmen, and plan to use an office on a regular basis, this might just be a great place for you.

ISU Pappajohn center

The Pappajohn Center provides a diverse array of resources for new startups, including access to market research, office space, and mentoring.

BR C 507X course

This course is taught by Dr. Peter Keeling, and covers many of the practical aspects of taking a new technology to market. There are also several guest speakers who can later become excellent contacts when you are ready to start. Anyone from a CBiRC partner institution can take the class, and students will also have an opportunity to present their business idea to CBiRC leaders at the end of the course.

CBiRC Graduate Minor

Iowa State Course Listing

This post is the first of a series of posts meant to engage the entrepreneurial students of CBiRC. If you are a CBiRC member and would like to share more resources for entrepreneurs at any of our universities (including a list of resources focused on a specific university), please send an email to the CBiRC Web Chair, currently

2011 ERC Program Annual Meeting: Student Elevator Pitch Contest

We now have the video from the NSF’s ERC Student Elevator Pitch contest! For those unfamiliar, an elevator pitch is a one-minute speech that communicates your research, a business your starting, anything you would want someone to invest in. This contest takes place every year, so if you’re a CBiRC student and would like to take part, be sure to have your speech ready for the annual and working meetings!

Streaming recording link:

Download link:


Job Posting for Elevance Renewable Sciences

1/16/2012 Elevance Renewable Sciences have multiple open positions ranging from Synthetic and Process Chemists to Analytical Chemists as well as Project Managers, Process Design Engineers and Pilot Plant Operations:

Job Postings from Oct. 2011 to Nov. 2011

  • 11/14/2011 Genomatica has a temporary position (1 year that can possibly convert to a regular full-time position contingent upon performance and project status) in the Strain Engineering Department. This position is for either an entry level pHD or a Master with a few years experience. The job ID is 210012-320-52
  • 10/24/2011 Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC, is seeking a PhD chemical engineer/physical chemist to fill a position in the Global Process Engineering group. The successful candidate will be a member of the group responsible for: *Expertise in physical property behavior and company resource for development of fundamental correlations and models for use in process innovation. *Analyzing hydrocarbon physical property data for vapors, liquids and or solids and building correlations for process models of olefins, polyolefin, aromatics, styrenics and specialty chemical plants using software such as Aspen. *Compare plant operating data with predicted operation from models and correlations. *Research and develop new technologies that provide step-change process design improvements. *Maintain knowledge of industry trends and new technologies.

OPPTAG Science Outreach Opportunity

Iowa State’s Office of Precollegiate Programs for Talented and Gifted will be hosting an outreach event on March 28, 2012. We are planning to participate, and we will be hosting part of the event in the Biorenewables Research Laboratory. If you are interested, please contact Mark Brown for more information.

Improving Education in Biorenewables

Educators at The Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center headquartered at Iowa State University, recently announced the foundation of a new Biorenewable Chemicals Graduate Minor. The minor in Biorenewable Chemicals allows students from a variety of allied disciplines to understand the opportunities for developing biorenewable chemicals via a combination of biocatalytic and chemical catalysis steps. In addition, students in the minor gain explicit entrepreneurial internship experience, a background in the general issues related to production and processing of biorenewable resources, and exposure to the economic and environmental realities of the chemical industry.

The minor consists of a 14-credit hour sequence: 8 hours of graduate coursework in Fundamentals of Biorenewable Resources and Technology (3 cr), Biological and Chemical Catalysis (3 cr), The Evolving Chemical Industry (1 cr), and a Biorenewable Chemicals Entrepreneurial Internship (1 cr), and 6 credits of coursework selected from a list of courses reflecting CBiRC’s three technical thrust areas: New Biocatalysts for Pathway Engineering (Thrust 1), Microbial Metabolic Engineering (Thrust 2), and Chemical Catalyst Design (Thrust 3). Additional training for students in the graduate minor occurs through annual CBiRC center-wide meetings. Students present posters and learn about each other’s research findings, thereby gaining a better appreciation for both chemical and biological catalysis routes for producing biorenewable chemicals.

The new Biorenewable Chemicals Graduate Minor is designed to complement and enhance a broader more extensive educational mission, including: (1) Educating pre-college teachers; (2) Educating pre-college students; (3) Providing hands-on research experiences to undergraduates; and (4) Providing novel graduate curricula for students in CBiRC-allied fields. CBiRC is leveraging existing multidisciplinary efforts in biorenewables education at Iowa State University to accomplish its mission. The CBiRC education program includes individual and interactive components for pre-college teachers and students as well as undergraduate and graduate students. To maximize the educational impact created by the center, the high level of activity in the biorenewables area at Iowa State will be leveraged for new high-impact educational programs.

Bio-based Value-Added Alpha-Olefins

Researchers at The Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center headquartered at Iowa State University, recently showed that medium chain length free fatty acids can be produced by E.coli using sugars as the carbon source. The research uses codon-optimized eukaryotic and prokaryotic enzyme sources expressed in the microbial systems. The projects reported 35-40% of the theoretical yields with 2.7g/L being attained, comparing very favorably with recent literature reports. Further improvements are underway with strain optimization, media optimization and fine-tuning of the operating conditions. Similar studies are underway in yeast systems using similar enzyme sources along with additional optimization and characterization. Simultaneously, in parallel research projects the toxicity of such short chain fatty acids is being evaluated. This research combines flux map analysis and newly developed bioinformatic “network component analysis” tools for systemwide analysis and allows insights into the compensatory mechanisms being perturbed in such biological systems.

These studies are enabling CBiRC to drive the construction of its metabolic engineering design engine and hence make new strains for high level fatty acid and polyketide synthesis in microbes. The projects bring together faculty from Iowa State University as well as the University of Califorina – Irvine, Rice University, the Salk Institute and the University of Michigan.

Medium chain fatty acids are important as a stepping stone to creating even shorter fatty acids in the future. These medium and shorter chain fatty acids can form a foundation for making α-olefins using other chemical catalysis methods under development in CBiRC. Such α-olefins are part of the larger family of olefins or alkenes with a chemical formula CxH2x. Polymerization of alkenes yields polymers that are known in a general way as polyolefins. The α-olefins are distinguished by having a double bond at the primary or α-position, which enhances the reactivity of the compound and makes it useful for a number of applications. Olefins are reactive intermediates used to manufacture products used in plastics, lubricants, surfactants, agricultural chemicals, coatings and corrosion inhibitors. Such olefins are synthesized today from petrochemical sources and can have high industrial value. The research reported above begins to set-out a new path to making biorenewable or bio-based olefins.