Meet all Keynote Speakers

Prof. David M. Kramer, Michigan State University, USA


David M. Kramer is the Hannah Distinguished Professor of Bioenergetics and Photosynthesis in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department and the MSU-Department of Energy Plant Research Lab at Michigan State University. In 1990, he received his Ph.D. in Biophysics at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, followed by Post-doc at the Institute de Biologie Physico-Chimique in Paris and a 15-year tenure as a faculty member at Washington State University. He move to MSU in 2010. His research seeks to understand how plants convert light energy into forms usable for life, how these processes function at both molecular and physiological levels, how they are regulated and controlled, how they define the energy budget of plants and the ecosystem and how they have adapted through evolution to support life in dynamic environments. This work has led his research team to develop a series of novel spectroscopic tools for probing photosynthetic reactions both in vitro and in vivo. To disseminate these tools, he co-founded Phenometrics Inc. and the MSU Center for Advanced Algal and Plant Phenotyping.

Dr. Laurent Fourage, TOTAL New Energies Division, France


Did a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Nantes, France, where he worked on protein engineering, structural and biochemical characterization of thermostable glucosidase. After its graduation, he joined Sir Alan Fersht group in Cambridge (MRC-CPE, UK) to focus its research on in vitro protein engineering and protein folding. Then, he integrated as project leader a French biotech company (Proteus) working the development of industrial biocatalytic processes. He was responsible of projects dealing with enzyme screening from natural diversity, enzyme engineering for different white biotech projects in the field of cosmetics, detergents and bioenergy and author of 8 patents. He integrated TOTAL New Energies in January 2012 as Program Manager and in charge of defining and implementing a global strategy in phototrophs field. Different R&D collaborative projects were launched on strain engineering and process development through partnerships with Biotech company and academic labs in Netherlands, France or China.

Prof. Francis-André Wollman, Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique, UMR7141, France


Francis-André Wollman is director of research at CNRS, leading the group of Molecular Physiology and Membrane chloroplast in Paris since 1996. He studies the regulation of gene expression and protein assembly in the chloroplast, using the unicellular algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as model. In his work, Francis-André Wollman combines approaches as diverse as genetics, biochemistry, cytology and biophysics to investigate the functioning and assembly of the photosynthetic apparatus. Within his laboratory a broad library of Chlamydomonas photosynthetic mutants has been developed (ChamyStation), as well as original spectroscopic techniques applied to study, in vivo, the photosynthetic function in leaves and intact cells.

Prof. Himadri Pakrasi, Washington University, USA


Prof. Himadri Pakrasi is an experienced scientist in the field of photosynthesis with the special focus on photosystem II, phycobilisomes and electron transfer. His current research is very broad ranging from efforts to increase light-harvesting efficiency in cyanobacteria, to metabolic engineering for biofuels and high value chemicals. Moreover, he identified and isolated new strain of cyanobacteria characterized by rapid growth, which gives a hope for beating the conventional fermentation (yeast and bacteria) in the future.

Prof. Birger Lindberg Møller, University of Copenhagen


Prof. Birger Lindberg Møller is a world leading researcher in the field of plant biochemistry and synthetic biology from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He initially made his name with research on photosynthesis, Cytochrome P450s and the modular transfer of natural pathways. More recently, he has dedicated himself to more interdisciplinary research in the production of high value natural plant products by any means possible, both through academia and industry (e.g. Evolva). Above all, Prof. Møller is an inspirational leader who continues to be creative and influential in diverse fields, including metabolic engineering and synthetic biology.

Dr. Ralf Steuer, Institute for Theoretical Biology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany


Dr. Ralf Steuer leads the Metabolic Network Analysis research group at the Institute for Theoretical Biology at Humboldt University in Berlin. His research focuses on the phototrophic metabolism of cyanobacteria to elucidate pathways enhancing the production of bio-fuels and other valuable commodities.

Prof. Christine A. Raines, University of Essex, UK


Prof. Christine A. Raines is one of the prominent scientists who has been contributing to the filed of primary carbon metabolism and photosynthesis for more than 30 years. Her laboratory is mainly focused on investigating the relative importance of individual Calvin cycle enzymes in controlling the carbon fixation and plant growth. She is also investigating the stromal proteins that regulate these enzymes. Some of her recent research contributions include transgenic manipulation of chloroplast carbon metabolism and identification of factors limiting photosynthesis and yield, investigation of the role of plant biotechnology in improving plant yields for food and fuel. Most of all she is an inspirational leader who continues to drive forward the research in plant carbon metabolism and beyond.

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ilka Axmann, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany

ilka axmann picture

Ilka Axmann did her PhD in Molecular Biology at Humboldt University Berlin; she was a postdoctoral research fellow at Charité Berlin, where she also got a position as Junior Group Leader. Since 2013 she is Prof. for Synthetic Microbiology at Heinrich Heine University within CEPLAS (Cluster of Excellence Group Leader). Her main interests include RNA biology, protein biology, biotechnology, biochemistry, bioinformatics and computational biology, thus she has experience both in transcriptomic and proteomic approaches. She is currently working on different projects about regulatory circuits of bacteria, including quantitative analysis of bacterial gene regulation by small RNAs, mechanism and function of non-standard circadian clock systems in cyanobacteria, RiboNets (programming cellular networks and community behavior with synthetic RNA-based devices) and metabolic study of metal bioavailability into phototrophic organisms. Her focus on photosynthetic organisms includes a variety of cyanobacteria, such as Synechocystis, Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus.

Prof. Jon Clardy, Harvard University, USA


Professor Jon Clardy was appointed Hisien Wu and Daisy Yen Wu professor at the Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Department at Harvard Medical School in 2002. His research is focused on how naturally occurring small molecules affect biological systems and has contributed to the discovery of new small molecules and biosynthetic genes. Some of the methods used in his lab to achieve these research goals are crystallography for structural characterization, environmental genome sequencing to identify biosynthetic genes and molecular biology to express molecules of interest. Part of his resent work has been focused on increasing the understanding of bacteria and algae interactions and has in this research identified small molecules that are used to by Phaeobacter galleciensis (alpha-proteobacteira) and Emiliania huxleyi (algae) in their symbiotic communication.