Michelle O'Malley

Scientific Lead, Microbial and Enzyme Discovery

Research Focus

Michelle A. O’Malley earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2004. She holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware, where she worked with Prof. Anne Robinson to engineer overproduction of membrane proteins in yeast. O’Malley was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at MIT and the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard, where she developed new strategies for cellulosic biofuel production. She joined the Chemical Engineering faculty at UC-Santa Barbara in 2012, and her research group engineers protein synthesis within anaerobes and consortia for sustainable chemical production, bioremediation, and natural product discovery.

O’Malley was named one of the 35 Top Innovators Under 35 by MIT Technology Review in 2015, and is the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) – the highest honor awarded to early career researchers by the US government. She has also been recognized with a DOE Early Career Award, an NSF CAREER award, the Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the Allan P. Colburn Memorial Lectureship at the University of Delaware, an ACS PMSE Young Investigator Award, a Hellman Faculty Fellowship, and a Rising Star Award from the Women’s Chemists Committee of the American Chemical Society.


  • Discovery & characterization of novel lignin-degrading mechanisms from anaerobic fungi and microbial communities

Featured Media

How Fungal Enzymes Break Down Cell Walls

Fungal Enzymes Team Up to More Efficiently Break Down Cellulose

Yes, you can have a life outside the lab

Getting the Most Out of Your Postdoc

What Biofuel Production Can Learn from the Zoo

Can Goat Poop Overpower Fossil Fuels

Gut Feeling: How Animals Can Transform Renewables

Fungi from goats’ guts could lead to better biofuels

Biofuel from Fungi: barnyard poop has potential to be broken down and turned into energy

35 Innovators Under 35, 2015, MIT Technology Review

Horse manure yields secret to ethanol fuel

Featured Publications

Complete list on GoogleScholar.

Featured Intellectual Property

Metabolic Engineering Of Anaerobic Fungal Pathways For The Production Of Biofuels And Antimicrobial Compounds