Michelle O’Malley is a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering as well as the Associate Director of the Bioengineering Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

At UCSB, her research group develops synthetic biology tools to engineer protein synthesis within anaerobic fungi and microbial consortia for sustainable chemical production, bioremediation, and natural product discovery. More specifically, Michelle’s research group has sequenced the genomes, transcriptomes, and proteomes of several anaerobic fungal strains, which has enabled the discovery of new biomass-degrading enzymes, the characterization of fungal cellulosomes (multi-enzyme complexes), unique transporters, and a wealth of natural products. More details about the work of her research group and associated publications can be found on the O’Malley lab website.

O’Malley’s research has been featured on a wide range of media outlets including NPR’s Science Friday, the BBC Newshour and the LA Times. She was named one of the 35 Top Innovators Under 35 in the world by MIT Technology Review in 2015, and one of the 10 “Scientists to Watch” by Science News in 2019.

Michelle is also the recipient of numerous awards:

  •  Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) – the highest honor bestowed on early career scientists by the US government
  • Allan P. Colburn Award from the AIChE
  • ASM Award for Early Career Applied and Biotechnological Research
  • AIChE Division 15 Early Career Award
  • DOE Early Career Award
  • NSF CAREER award
  • Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award
  • ACS BIOT Division Young Investigator Award
  • ACS PMSE Division Young Investigator Award
  • ACS WCC “Rising Star” Award
  • Hellman Faculty Fellowship

Michelle was elected to the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers in 2020. Michelle also serves as an elected member of the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute (JGI) User Executive Committee, the JGI Fungal Advisory Board, and is the Chair-Elect of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Biochemical Technology (BIOT).

You can learn more about Michelle’s work by watching her short video.