April 19, 2019 at 12:53 pm

NQPI Seminar Series: Julie Renner Discusses Protein Engineering

Julie Renner

Dr. Julie Renner

By Ryan Flynn

NQPI editorial intern

On March 21, the Nanoscale and Quantum Phenomena Institute hosted Climo Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Julie Renner from Case Western Reserve University as part of the NQPI seminar series. Renner presented on her topic of study, protein engineering.

Renner and her team manufacture proteins that take on certain properties, depending on their needs. For example, the team is developing proteins that can organize electrodes for different purposes. For the proteins to do so, they need to have the ability to bind both to metal and to a polymer.

“The nice thing about protein engineering is that you can steal a lot of good ideas from nature,” Renner says. “You can take sections of a protein that do something special and combine it with another functionality… and you can make multifunctional materials.”

Renner’s talk focused on how protein engineering can be combined with electrochemistry, two fields that traditionally are not often combined, and the successes that can come of that. Hydrogen generation and fuel cell technology are among the possible uses for this combination.

Renner was invited to give her seminar by NQPI member Dr. John Staser, who is also investigating biomolecular engineering. Although not a traditionally trained surface scientist, Renner is excited for the possibility of future collaboration with NQPI.

“One thing I learned while I was here was that we do a lot more surface science than I realized,” Renner says. “There’s some really great surface scientists here that could be very exciting to work with to gain more fundamental understanding of what we see.”

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