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Please join me in congratulating Professor Yong-Su Jin for being named a 2021 University Scholar. This is a University award recognizing faculty excellence and is one of the most prestigious awards at the University of Illinois.   The University Scholars Program recognizes outstanding members of the faculty and provides each with a funding allocation to enhance their scholarly activities.  University Scholars awards are not made for a specific project or proposal; rather, they represent recognition of the recipient’s excellence and the University’s commitment to foster outstanding people and their work.  See the highlights below – truly a well-deserved honor!

Dr. Jin has undertaken metabolic engineering and synthetic biology approaches to optimize genetic and regulatory processes within cells for increasing production of target products while minimizing byproducts and waste. Dr. Jin has developed various engineered microbial strains enabling economical and sustainable production of biofuels, biochemicals, food ingredients, and nutraceuticals from renewable biomass. He has published over 169 peer-reviewed journal articles  in high impact and topically-focused journals, and has given over 50 invited presentations. Dr. Jin has been the sole-PI on grants totaling over $6.6 million. He has filed 15 patents, with 6 issued and 1 licensed to multiple companies with accumulated license fees over $500,000. Dr. Jin has been an active and highly sought participant in the research themes (BioSystems Design and Microbiome Metabolic Engineering) of Carl R. Woese Institute of Genomic Biology, playing pivotal roles in large research projects (RIPE and CABBI) from the Gates Foundation and Department of Energy, which have brought over $75M and $115 M, respectively, in grants to the University. Prior to this, he was one of the “stars” of the BP-funded Energy Biosciences Institute, which was housed at the IGB and funded by a $500M commitment to a consortium involving UIUC, UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley Labs. Dr. Jin thus has been, or is, involved in some of the largest team science research projects on this campus.

In coordination with his prolific research program, Dr. Jin has created a challenging, dynamic, and innovative educational environment, resulting in exemplary training of undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers. Dr. Jin developed a new graduate course providing advanced content and critical learning for our students. He contributed to substantial revisions of a core undergraduate course to address emerging topics relevant to food safety and sanitation. Lastly, in culmination of his public, professional, and university service, Dr. Jin is conducting research and educational activities for Synthetic Biology for Food and Nutrition Innovation (SynFoNI) through support from the campus Investment for Growth program. SynFoNI aims to make UIUC a world leader in applying synthetic biology to food and nutrition problems.

Congratulations Yong-Su!


Nicki J. Engeseth, Ph.D. I Professor and Head
Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition  I  University of Illinois
260 A Bevier Hall, 905 S. Goodwin, Urbana, IL  61801
Phone:  (217)244-6788