Senger Group Website

Metabolic Engineering and Systems Biology Laboratory
Department of Biological Systems Engineering
Virginia Tech

Welcome to the Senger Lab Website

Members of the Senger Lab during the Fall 2014 semester


Congratulations to Theresah Zu on obtaining her U.S. citizenship and securing a great new job in the field of Raman spectroscopy research!

We used global sensitivity analysis to optimize enzyme levels in Prof. Percival Zhang's cell-free pathway used to make hydrogen. We are co-authors on his PNAS paper accepted for publication.

Our first journal article describing the use of Raman spectroscopy to monitor the health of perfused organs has been accepted to the Journal of Raman Spectroscopy.

Congratulations to Dr. Ben Freedman on his successful PhD defense!

Congratulations to Dr. Theresah Nom Korbieh Zu on her successful PhD defense!

Congratulations to Dr. Hadi Nazem-Bokaee on his successful PhD defense! He is scheduled to begin a postdoctoral research appointment in the lab of Prof. Costas Maranas at Penn State.

Vision of the Lab

The Senger Lab innovates novel tools and processes for biotechnology. In particular, we seek to achieve the following:

  1. Produce valuable chemicals and fuels from custom designed metabolic pathways in microbes
  2. Engineer strategies so the microbes can produce these chemicals from renewable resources such as sunlight/CO2 and plant biomass
  3. Determine the chemical compositions of cells, tissues, and organs in real-time as they are exposed to changing environmental conditions and/or genetic manipulations

Please see the Research page for descriptions of our current projects.

Training for Researchers

Our lab is focused on both computational and experimental methods development. Researchers learn to master both approaches and commonly use computations to design effective experiments. The following are a few examples of how graduate students and postdoctoral researchers have used this approach successfully in their research, and we always remain open to new ideas.

  • Derive metabolic models to identify targets for genetic engineering and then construct the new strain(s) in the lab.
  • Apply multivariate statistics to Raman spectral data to characterize how phenotypes of cells, tissues, and organs change in response to stress
  • Administer molecular docking and mechanics simulations to design enzymes capable of performing novel reactions
  • Execute global sensitivity analysis to identify bottlenecks of an enzymatic pathway and then adjust enzyme levels accordingly to achieve better performance
  • Use the laws of thermodynamics to design a custom set of PCR primers that can amplify DNA of any sequence and from any sample uniformly
  • Analyze next-generation high-throughput sequencing data to re-assemble entire genomes from an environmental sample metagenome


We are interested in recruiting motivated graduate students to specialize in metabolic engineering, systems biology, genome-scale metabolic modeling, and/or synthetic biology. We are also interested in hosting visiting scholars and postdoctoral researchers who can help us expand our existing toolsets and knowledge. We also participate in Research for Undergraduates (REU) programs and the Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) at Virginia Tech and are always excited to train undergraduate students to perform research.

Given our current research funding level, we are interested in receiving applications for the following positions:

  • PhD student
  • Visiting scholar (with funding)
  • Undergraduate researcher

Please contact us with inquiries.

Last Updated: 3/27/2015

Principal Investigator: Ryan S. Senger

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