Research Interests:

  • Two-Phase (Liquid-Liquid and Solid-Liquid) Biocatalysis
  • Xenobiotics Destruction in Partitioning Bioreactors
  • Extractive Fermentation and Bioprocess Development
  • Expression of Recombinant Proteins
  • Modelling and Simulation

A number of research projects are currently under investigation in my laboratory in the areas of Biochemical and Cell Culture Engineering, focused specifically on developing novel bioprocesses for both environmental and biotechnology applications. The research from our laboratory has created a Technology Platform known as two-phase partitioning bioreactors (TPPBs), which has now been adopted by Research Groups in more than 15 countries around the world, and has led to US/Canadian patents and commercial licenses.

Recognizing that bioprocesses are very often limited by toxic molecules that are either present or generated in such systems, our strategy has been to incorporate an immiscible second phase within a bioreactor, whose function is to selectively partition toxic molecules either to the microorganisms in degradative reactions, or away from the microorganisms in synthesis reactions (hence “TPPB”). In this way the microenvironment of cells is favourably influenced by the selective partitioning of toxic substrates and/or products by means of an immiscible partitioning phase, resulting in significantly enhanced cell, and therefore process, performance. Specific examples include: Extractive Fermentation, a licensed technology which alleviates end product inhibition (e.g. in ethanol production, acetone/butanol production, etc); and the biodestruction of toxic substrates (such as substituted phenols, endocrine disruptors, PAHs, PCBs, BTEX, etc.), which has moved from the laboratory to field-scale testing and demonstration. Environmental TPPB projects underway involve extensive experimental work, modeling and simulation for the treatment of recalcitrant gas/liquid/solid xenobiotics. Biotechnology TPPB applications include the biosynthetic production of commercially important high value neutraceuticals and biopharmaceutical precursor molecules. In a recent breakthrough, we have shown that the sequestering phase in TPPBs, originally an immiscible organic solvent, can now be replaced by inexpensive solid polymer beads, and we are actively exploring this avenue of TPPB development via experimental and modeling studies.

Editorial Board Activities

Editor, Journal of Hazardous Materials
Editorial Board, Biodegradation
Editorial Board, Biotechnology Letters


NSERC (Discovery, Strategic and CRD Grants), Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAIC Canada), E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company, BIOCAP Canada, Kingston Process Metallurgy