Nicholas Sandoval

Nich web

Now Professor at Tulane University

December 2011
Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering
Thesis:  Genome Engineering to Improve Acetate and Cellulosic Hydrolysate Tolerance in E. coli for Improved Cellulosic Biofuel Production
University of Colorado; Boulder, CO, Advisor:  Prof. Ryan T. Gill

December 2008
Master of Science in Chemical Engineering
University of Colorado; Boulder, CO

May 2006
Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering
Summa cum laude, biochemistry minor
University of Colorado; Boulder, CO
Research Project

Non-model organisms from the Clostridium genus have attractive capabilities relevant to many biotechnological applications (e.g. solventogenic, acetogenic, nitrogen and carbon fixing), but are not thoroughly explored because of their lack of an efficient genetic toolkit. C. acetobutylicum, C. beijerinckii, and C. pasteurianum produce butanol, which is less hygroscopic, has a higher energy density, and is not as volatile as the current major biofuel, ethanol. In addition, the Clostridium genus has other biotechnologically relevant capabilities involving carbon fixation (C. ljungdahlii), lignocellulosic biomass substrate usage (C. cellulolyticum, C. thermocellum), and pharmaceuticals (C. botulinum).

Yet genome engineering in Clostridium is limited by inefficient approaches that take weeks to make a single genetic insertion/deletion and leave genetic scars. My research goals are to advance genome engineering in Clostridium and fully make use of its biotechnological capabilities.

Selected Publications (

Sandoval NR, Venkataramanan KP, Groth TS, Papoutsakis ET: Genome sequencing identifies Spo0A inactivation in Clostridium pasteurianum as imparting enhanced tolerance to crude glycerol and increased growth-associated butanol production. Submitted to Biotechnol Biofuels.

Gaida SM*, Sandoval NR*, Nicolaou SA, Chen Y, and Papoutsakis ET: Expression of heterologous sigma factors enables functional screening of metagenomic and heterologous genomic libraries Nat Comm 2015, 6:7045. (*Equal contribution)

Whitaker WB, Sandoval NR, Bennett RK, and Papoutsakis ET: Synthetic methylotrophy: engineering the production of biofuels and chemicals based on the biology of aerobic methanol utilization. Curr Opin Biotechnol. (2015) 33:165–175.

Sandoval NR, Kim JYH, Reeder P, Glebes TY, Aucoin HR, Warner JR, and Gill RT:  A Strategy for Directing Combinatorial Genome Engineering in E. coli. PNAS 26 (2012) 10540-10545.

Sandoval NR, Mills TY, Zhang M, and Gill RT: Elucidating acetate tolerance in E. coli using a genome-wide approach. Metab Eng. 13 (2010) 214-224.

Mills TY*, Sandoval NR*, and Gill RT: Cellulosic hydrolysate toxicity and tolerance mechanisms in Escherichia coli. Biotechnol Biofuels (2009) 2:26. (*Equal contribution)

Selected Presentations

Sandoval NR, Venkataramanan KP, Papoutsakis ET, Improved Butanol Production from Clostridium Pasteurianum from Crude Glycerol Feedstock, in AIChE 2015 Annual Meeting, C. Trinh, Chair. 2015: Salt Lake City, UT.

Sandoval NR, Gaida SM, Nicolaou SA, Venkataramanan KP, and Papoutsakis ET, Improved Functional Screening of Metagenomic Libraries Via Heterologous Sigma Factor Expression, in AIChE 2015 Annual Meeting, K.E.J. Tyo, Chair. 2015: Salt Lake City, UT.

Sandoval NR, Gaida SM, Nicolaou SA, Venkataramanan KP, Papoutsakis ET: Heterologous sigma factor expression for functional screening of heterologous and metagenomic libraries, in Biochemical and Molecular Engineering XIX, Good T, Seth G, Chairs: 2015. Puerto Vallarta, MX. (Poster)

Sandoval NR, Mills TY, Warner JR, and Gill RT, Using genome-wide and targeted tools to engineer acetate tolerance in E. coli for improved cellulosic biofuel production, in ACS 2011 Spring Meeting, J. Dueber and U. Lao, Chairs.  2011: Anaheim, CA.


2014 – present: NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral National Research Service Award (NRSA)

2007 – 2011: NSF Graduate Research Fellow

Research Summary Keywords

  • Clostridia
  • Biofuels
  • Product-responsive reporters

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