Breakout Session I

Thermochemical Conversion of Bio-based Feedstocks to Oils and Chemicals


John Frost 

John Frost is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Michigan State University. Professor Frost's research group genetically engineers microbes for use as synthetic catalysts and interfaces these biocatalysts with traditional chemical catalysis. Recent research focuses on elaboration of microbe-catalyzed syntheses of starting materials critical to the manufacture of pharmaceuticals as a replacement for the current isolation of these starting materials from exotic natural sources. Hoffmann La Roche has licensed a microbe developed by the Frost group for synthesis of shikimic acid, the starting material used for manufacture of the anti-influenza drug sold under the trade name Tamiflu.

The Frost group is internationally recognized for its research in the field of green chemistry, where group research is directed toward creation of sustainable, environmentally benign syntheses of a variety of chemicals. These syntheses are catalyzed by genetically engineered microbes and utilize nontoxic starting materials such as glucose derived from renewable feedstocks such as starch or cellulose. For their research efforts in this area, Professor Frost and his collaborator and wife, Dr. Karen M. Draths, were awarded the Presidential Green Challenge Award.

Professor Frost is the founder of Draths Corporation, which is spearheading the commercialization of the Frost technology portfolio developed at Michigan State University. Professor Frost is on leave from Michigan State University and currently serves as President and Chief Science Officer of Draths Corporation. He earned his B.S. in Chemistry from Purdue University and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.



Marcel Schlaf 

Marcel Schlaf is an Assoicate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. His research interests lie in the design, synthesis and development of transition metal based homogeneous hydrogenation and hydrogenolysis catalysts for the selective deoxygenation of sugar polyalcohols and reductive depolymerization of lignins to petrochemical building blocks.






Leo Manzer 

Leo Manzer is the founder and President of Catalytic Insights LLC. His company was founded to provide expertise in problems related to catalytic science and engineering. During his tenure as Director of the Corporate Catalysis Center at DuPont, the Center provided assistance and process options for the more than 160 commercial processes requiring a catalyst. The Center operated a wide variety of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalytic processes in a large number of reactors, varying from simple batch autoclaves to complex transport bed reactors and trickle bed reactors. Over the years, a significant number of world class scientists and engineers were involved in the discovery, design and operation of these complex processes. Catalytic Insights has access to many of these experts.

Leo E. Manzer retired as a DuPont Fellow in the company's Central Science and Engineering Laboratories at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware, USA. As a DuPont Fellow, Dr. Manzer achieved the company's highest level of professional recognition for scientists. Upon his retirement in 2005, he was one of 15 company scientists and engineers to hold the title of DuPont Fellow.


Victor Lin 

Victor Lin is a Professor of Chemistry at Iowa State University. After working as a Skaggs postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Research Institute, he joined the faculty at Iowa State in the fall of 1999. His research centers on the design of functional nanoporous materials for biotechnological and biomedical applications, such as biosensor design, drug delivery, and gene transfection. His group also specializes in the synthesis of mesoporous heterogeneous catalysts for various reactions, such as cooperative catalysis, carbonyl activation, biodiesel production, and other biorenewable applications. Professor Lin has received a number of awards for his work, including a National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2002, a LAS award for Early Achievement in Research/Artistic Creativity in 2004 at Iowa State University, and an Outstanding Technology Development award of the U.S. Federal Laboratory Consortium in 2005. He serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Advanced Functional Materials, WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

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