The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) awarded $1 million in funding to three projects at minority serving institutions (MSIs) to accelerate U.S. biomanufacturing sector growth. In partnership with the MSI STEM Research & Development Consortium (MSRDC), Agile BioFoundry will fund these research projects to support the advancement of their technologies and position the awardees to more fully leverage the consortium’s technical capabilities in future projects. These capabilities include the development of novel microbial hosts; augmentations of titer, rate, and yield of bioproducts; and the creation of new capabilities and approaches to improve the Design-Build-Test-Learn biomanufacturing cycle. 

The following projects have been selected:






(City, State) 

Project Description 


Federal Cost Share 


Zip Code 


Development and Validation of CRISPR Interference (CRISPRi) Genome-Wide Libraries to Enable High-Throughput Single-Carbon Biocatalyst Optimization (Calvin Henard, University of North Texas


Denton, TX


This project will utilize CRISPRi techniques to augment the capture of so-called C1 feedstocks such as methane, a potent greenhouse gas, for the production of muconic acid and other chemicals.






An Integrated Approach Involving Robust Microbial Communities for Processing Waste into Commercial Bioproducts via Anaerobic Digestion (Ezinne Achinivu, University of Illinois Chicago)


Chicago, IL


This project will leverage their anaerobic digester research and evolution to optimize microbial communities for the breakdown of various food waste streams and agricultural residues to produce a variety of short chain carboxylic acids. 







Optimizing Organic Acid Production for Sustainable Bioleaching of Critical Materials (Hongyue Jin, University of Arizona


Tucson, AZ


This project will identify and produce specific metabolites to decarbonize the lithium-ion battery recycling process, leveraging competitive economics of bioleaching versus their fossil-based analog processes. 






MSRDC is a nonprofit member group of over 60 MSIs, industry and government partners who support the involvement of MSIs in basic, applied, and/or advanced technology development research. BETO-funded ABF is a consortium of national laboratories dedicated to using their joint capabilities to advance biomanufacturing and decarbonization of the economy. The result is a robust, agile biomanufacturing platform accessible to researchers across the private and public sectors.

ABF partners include Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and more than 30 university and industry partners.