Science and Innovation for Sustainability – Green chemicals, sustainable fibres, and advanced materials from synthetic biology and advanced manufacturing

Wednesday 29 June 2022 – 14:00 – 15:30 AEST

Chair: Colin Scott
Presenters: Craig Wood, Colin Jackson, Professor Claudia Vickers, Ian O’Hara, Ian Paulsen, Volker Sieber

Synthetic Biology or Advanced Engineering Biology is an interdisciplinary science involving biology, engineering, chemistry, and data science, that represents one of the fastest growing areas of modern science. Synthetic biology is a field of science that involves the design or redesign of organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to harness the power of nature to sustainably produce, novel materials, green chemicals, and novel food, feed, and fibre alternatives, disrupting virtually every industrial and agricultural sector. Additionally, organisms can be engineered to remove GHG from the atmosphere at scale or to build resilience into climate vulnerable ecosystems, playing a key role in climate resilience and climate action. Synthetic biology reduces the need for petroleum-based chemicals as well as for plant- and animal-based products, benefiting the environment. In recent years investment in synthetic biology companies has grown from US$3.1B in 2019 to >US$36B in 2021 and it has been estimated that 60% of the global economy’s physical inputs could be made using synthetic biology by 2040, resulting in direct economic benefits of at least US$1.7 trillion. A recent analysis for Australia concluded that synthetic biology represents an AUD$30B industry for Australia by 2040 with an associated 45,000 new jobs. This session will explore the transformational role synthetic biology will have at guiding the industrial complex and future food production systems to a sustainable future. The session will engage researchers, policy makers, industries and venture capitalists in comprehensive discussion about the current and future state of synthetic biology across sectors and how it will fuel transformations to a sustainable future.

Colin Scott – Synthetic Biology FSP Director, CSIRO

Craig Wood – Metabolic Engineer, CSIRO
Craig is a metabolic engineer using modern breeding methods for high value traits in commercial oilseed crops. Currently Group Leader for Synthetic traits at CSIRO with interests in crops producing alt-proteins, lipids, RNAi technologies and nitrogenase engineering.

Colin Jackson
Colin views protein engineering as as essential component of the efforts to solve many of the most important environmental problems facing us in the 21st century, especially the fate of plastic and climate change. Colin holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Australian National University, and a BSc(Hons) from the University of Otago, NZ. He has published over 130 scientific papers, holds several patents and has been awarded several prizes for his work, including the Shimazu Medal from the Australian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Rennie Medal from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and the Australian Capital Territory Scientist of the Year.

Professor Claudia Vickers – Chief Scientific Officer, Eden Brew
Professor Vickers is Chief Scientific Officer at Eden Brew, an animal free dairy company. She has worked in basic and applied R&D in academia, government research, and industry for over 20 years. Her research focuses on developing sustainable industrial products using bioengineering. From 2017-2022, she was Director of CSIRO’s Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform, a highly collaborative cross-disciplinary R&D program aimed at expanding Australia’s synthetic biology capability and building national synthetic biology-based industry. She has represented Australia at numerous international strategy and policy fora and sits on the Scientific Advisory Boards for Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) as well as numerous international synthetic biology institutes. She is co-chair of the World Economic Forum Synthetic Biology Global Future Council and is on the Executive Committee of the International Society for Isoprenoids/Terpenes (TERPNET). She was founding President of Synthetic Biology Australasia and a founding member of the Global Biofoundries Alliance executive. She serves on editorial boards for eight international journals, including as a handing editor for ACS Synthetic Biology. She has Adjunct Professor positions at Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University.

Ian O’Hara – Deputy Dean, Faculty of Engineering, QUT
Ian O’Hara is Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at QUT. Ian is widely recognised as a leading expert in policies, technologies and systems for developing the bioeconomy and producing bio-based products including biofuels, bioenergy and biomaterials. In addition to his academic role, Ian also represents the Queensland Government as the Biofutures Industry Envoy and acts as an ambassador for Queensland’s Biofutures industry and industrial biotechnology sector. As the Envoy, Ian provides strategic advice to government and assists in securing domestic and international investment to grow the Biofutures sector.

Distinguished Professor Ian Paulsen
Distinguished Professor Ian Paulsen is a world leading scientist renowned for his work in microbial genomics, multidrug efflux pumps, lateral gene transfer, systems biology, bioinformatics, synthetic biology and environmental microbiology. Paulsen has >310 publications with >94,285citations (May 2022) and a H index of 123.  He is a former ARC Laureate Fellow and is the Director of the $35 million ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology. Paulsen is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and the Royal Society of New South Wales. He was instrumental in founding the field of microbial multidrug efflux pump research. He has driven the establishment of the Australian Genome Foundry at Macquarie, an automated facility for microbial strain construction. Paulsen is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher, and Thomson Reuters have identified him as one of the world’s 3000 most influential scientific minds.

Professor Volker SieberProfessor, Technical University of Munich
Prof. Sieber studied chemistry at the University of Bayreuth and the University of Delaware. After obtaining his doctorate in biochemistry, he went to the California Institute of Technology as a research fellow. Following a brief sojourn at McKinsey & Co., Prof. Sieber held a number of positions in the chemical industry between 2001 and 2008 (Degussa, Süd-Chemie). He has been a full professor at the Technical University of Munich since late 2008 where he is developing technologies for the conversion of biomass and hydrogen for the sustainable production of chemicals and fuels. In parallel, from 2009 he has built up and headed a Fraunhofer Institute branch in the area of bio-, chemo- and electrocatalysis. Since 2017 Prof. Sieber is Rector of the TUM Campus Straubing for Biotechnology and Sustainability where the Technical University of Munich concentrates its research and teaching in Bioeconomy. Since 2015 Prof. Sieber has been one of the founding members of the Bioeconomy council for the government of the Free State of Bavaria. He acted as spokesperson of this council between 2018 and 2021 when the Bioeconomy strategy of Bavaria was developed and published. Since 2020 he is the spokesperson for the Bavarian Innovation Cluster for Industrial Biotechnology. Prof. Sieber is Honorary Professor of the University of Queensland. With colleagues from Queensland and Brazil, he initiated the Global Bioeconomy Alliance, an association and cooperation platform for Academia and industrial partners to foster regional and global developments and technology exchanges for a sustainable society.