Ryan Senger


Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, Colorado State University, 2005

M.S., Chemical Engineering, Colorado State University, 2002

B.S., Chemistry, Millikin University, 1999


Aug 2015 - Present - Associate Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

Jan 2009 - Jul 2015 - Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

Aug 2007 - Dec 2008 - NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware

Feb 2006 - Jul 2007 - Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Northwestern University

Feb 2005 - Jan 2006 - Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas Tech University

Courses Taught Last Five Years

  • BSE 4504 - Bioprocess Engineering
  • BSE 4524 - Biological Process Plant Design
  • BSE 5044 - Engineering Mathematics
  • BSE 5504G - Advanced Bioprocess Engineering
  • BSE 5984 - Metabolic Engineering

Other Teaching and Advising

I advise several graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the Department.  I have also participated in developing a dual degree program between Virginia Tech and the National Engineering School of Sfax (Tunisia).  This program was funded by the U.S. State Department.  Currently, I am the faculty advisor for the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) student chapter at Virginia Tech, and I am head of the Potential Employers Committee in the Department.

Program Focus

My research program is focused on deriving valuable chemical intermediates, specialty products, and fuels from biological sources.  To do this, we focus in the areas of metabolic engineering, systems biology, and synthetic biology.  We are primarily concerned with enzymatic conversion of biological feedstocks (including photosynthesis) and are developing new technologies in the following areas: (i) metabolic engineering in silico using genome-scale models, (ii) RNA regulation, (iii) genomic library enrichment, (iv) synthetic metabolic pathways, (v) synthetic regulatory circuits, and (vi) cellular phenotype identification and molecular imaging using Raman spectroscopy.

Current Projects

  • Metabolic engineering of Clostridium cellulolyticum using a genome-scale model and combinatorial approaches
  • Photanol: Biosynthesis of alcohol biofuels from CO2
  • Model-guided metabolic engineering of Arabidopsis for increased cellulose production
  • Predicting high-oil phenotypes for seed rational metabolic engineering using genome-scale modeling
  • Enzymatic synthesis of high-value building blocks for commodity and specialty chemicals: A bottom up approach
  • Generating environmentally-friendly novel biofuel molecules with synthetic biology

Selected Recent Publications

(* undergraduate student, ** graduate student, *** post-doc)

  • Milne, C.B., Eddy, J.A., Raju, R., Ardekani, S., Kim, P.J., Senger, R.S., Jin, Y.S., Blaschek, H.P., Price, N.D. (2011) Metabolic network reconstruction and genome-scale model of butanol-producing strain Clostridium beijerinckii NCIMB 8052. BMC Syst. Biol., 5, 130.
  • Reed, J.L., Senger, R.S., Anoniewicz, M.R., and Young, J.D. (2011) Computational approaches in metabolic engineering.  J. Biomed. Biotechnol., 2010, 20741-4.
  • Senger, R.S. (2010) Biofuel production improvement with genome-scale models: the role of cell composition. Biotechnol. J., 5, 671-85.
  • Wang, M., Senger, R. S., Paredes, C. J., Banik, G. G., Lin, A., and Papoutsakis, E. T. (2009) Microarray-based gene expression analysis as a process characterization tool to help establish comparability of complex biological products: The scale-up of a whole-cell immunotherapy product. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 104, 796-808.
  • Senger, R.S. and Papoutsakis, E.T. (2008) Genome-scale model for Clostridium acetobutylicum. Part 1: Metabolic network resolution and analysis. Biotechnol. Bioeng., 101, 1036-1052.
  • Senger, R.S. and Papoutsakis, E.T. (2008) Genome-scale model for Clostridium acetobutylicum. Part 2: Development of specific proton flux states and numerically determined sub-spaces. Biotechnol. Bioeng., 101, 1053-1071.
  • Jones, S.W., Paredes, C.J., Tracy, B., Cheng, N., Sillers, R., Senger, R.S., and Papoutsakis, E.T. (2008) The transcriptional program underlying the physiology of clostridial sporulation. Genome Biology. 9, R114.
  • Senger, R. S. and Karim, M. N. (2008) Prediction of N-linked glycan branching patterns using artificial neural networks. Math. Biosci. 211, 89-104.
  • Senger, R. S. and Karim, M. N. (2007) Optimization of fed-batch parameters and harvest time of CHO cell cultures for a glycosylated product with multiple mechanisms of inactivation. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 98, 378-90.
  • Paredes, C. J., Senger, R. S., Spath, I. S., Borden, J. R., Sillers, R., and Papoutsakis, E. T. (2007) A general framework for designing and validating oligomer-based DNAmicroarrays and its application to Clostridium acetobutylicum. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 73, 4631-8.

Selected Recent Funding

  • “Metabolic Engineering of Clostridium Cellulolyticum Using a Genome-Scale
    Model and Combinatorial Approaches”, PI: R. Senger, USDA; CSREES; AFRI, $445,395, 12/09-11/12.
  • “Virginia Tech – National Engineering School of Sfax Partnership: Towards Strengthening Higher Education and Research Capacities for Better Serving the Economic Development Priorities in Tunisia”, PIs: F. Agblevor, C. Zhang, R. Senger, US State Department; ESF Grants Program, $300,011, 1/10-12/12.
  • "Photanol: Biosynthesis of Alcohol Biofuels from Sunlight and Atmospheric CO2”, PI: R. Senger, VT BBRC, $37,364, 4/10-3/11.
  • “Model-guided Metabolic Engineering of Arabidopsis for Increased Cellulose Production”, PIs: R. Senger, G. Gillaspy, VT BBRC, $64,528, 4/10-3/12.
  • “Enzymatic Synthesis of High-value Building Blocks for Commodity and Specialty Chemicals: A Bottom-up Approach”, PIs: R. Senger, A. Apte, Virginia Tech Biodesign and Bioprocess Research Center, $45,225, 4/11-3/13.
  • “Generating Environmentally-friendly Novel Biofuel Molecules with Synthetic
    Biology”, PIs R. Senger, D. Bevan, ICTAS, $120,000, 7/11-7/13.