Faculty Profile

Huimin Zhao

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Huimin Zhao
Huimin Zhao
Steven L. Miller Chair in Chemical Engineering
215 Roger Adams Laboratory MC 712
600 S. Mathews
Urbana Illinois 61801
(217) 333-2631


  • Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 1998
  • B.S., University of Science and Technology of China, 1992


Huimin Zhao joined the University of Illinois in 2000 and is currently the Steven L. Miller Chair in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He also holds appointments in chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics and bioengineering and is leader of the Biosystems Design theme at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. Dr. Zhao has authored or co-authored more than 240 research papers and over 20 issued and pending patent applications. He has given over 275 plenary, keynote or invited lectures in various international meetings, universities, industries and research institutes. He received numerous research and teaching awards and honors, including being named fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. Dr. Zhao received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, and his B.S. degree in biology from the University of Science & Technology of China.

For more information

Research Interests

  • Molecular Bioengineering and Biotechnology

Selected Articles in Journals

  • J. Liang, Y. Luo, and H. Zhao. "Synthetic Biology: Put Synthesis in Biology." Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Systems Biology and Medicine, 3, 7-20 (2011).
  • S. Li, J. Du, J. Sun, X. Yang, J. M. Galazka, N. L. Glass, J. H. D. Cate, and H. Zhao. "Overcoming Glucose Repression in Mixed Sugar Fermentation by Co-expressing a Cellulobiose Transporter and a β-Glucosidase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae." Molecular Biosystems, 6, 2129 - 2132 (2010).
  • T. W. Johannes, M. A. DeSieno, B. M. Griffin, P. Thomas, N. L. Kelleher, W. W. Metcalf, and H. Zhao. "Deciphering the Late Biosynthetic Steps of Antimalarial Compound FR900098." Chemistry and Biology, 17, 57-64 (2010).
  • M. McLachlan, K. Chockalingam, K. Lai, and H. Zhao. "Directed Evolution of Orthogonal Ligand Specificities in a Single Protein Scaffold." Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 48, 7783￿7786 (2009).
  • F. Wen, N. U. Nair, and H. Zhao."Protein Engineering in Designing Tailored Enzymes and Microorganisms for Biofuels Production." Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 20, 412-419 (2009).
  • W. Zha, S. Rubin-Pitel, and H. Zhao. "Increasing Cellular Malonyl-CoA Level in E. coli via Metabolic Engineering." Metabolic Engineering, 11, 192-198 (2009).
  • Z. Shao, H. Zhao, and H. Zhao. "DNA Assembler, an in vivo Genetic Method for Rapid Construction of Biochemical Pathways," Nucleic Acids Research, 37, e16 (2009).
  • Y. Choi, H. Zhang, J. S. Brunzelle, S. Nair, and H. Zhao. "In vitro Reconstitution and Structure of an Arylamine N-Oxygenase Involved in Biosynthesis of Aureothi,." Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, USA, 105, 6858-6863 (2008).
  • Z. Shao, J. A. V. Blodgett, B. T. Circello, R. Woodyer, G. Li, W. A. van der Donk, W. W. Metcalf, and H. Zhao. "Biosynthesis of 2-Hydroxyethylphosphonate, an Unexpected Intermediate Common to Multiple Phosphonate Biosynthetic Pathways," J. Biological Chemistry, 283, 23161-23168 (2008).
  • H. Zhao and W. Zha. "In vitro 'Sexual' Evolution through the PCR-based Staggered Extension Process (StEP)." Nature Protocols, 1, 1865-1871 (2006).
  • J. Lee and H. Zhao, "Mechanistic Studies on the Conversion of Arylamines into Arylnitro Compounds by Arylaminopyrrolnitrin Oxygenase: Identification of Intermediates and Kinetic Studies," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 45, 622-625 (2006).
  • K. Chockalingam, Z. Chen, J.A. Katzenellenbogen, and H. Zhao, "Directed Evolution of Specific Receptor-Ligand Pairs for Use in the Creation of Gene Switches," Proc. Nat. Acad. USA, 102, 5691-5696 (2005).


  • Charles Thom Award, Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, 2016
  • Elmer Gaden Award, John Wiley & Sons and American Chemical Society Division of Biochemical Technology, 2014
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 2012
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2010

  • Keck Futures Intiative Grant, National Academies, 2010
  • Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, 2009
  • Plenary Lecture in Biochemical Engineering, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 2009
  • Young Investigator Award, American Chemical Society Division of Biochemical Technology, 2008
  • Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising, College of Engineering, University of Illinois, UC, 2008
  • Outstanding Overseas Young Chinese Scholars Award, Chinese National Science Foundation, 2007
  • University Scholar, University of Illinois, UC, 2007
  • Helen Corley Petit Scholar, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois, UC, 2006-2007
  • Beckman Fellow, Center for Advanced Study, 2005-2006
  • Xerox Award for Faculty Research, College of Engineering, University of Illinois, UC, 2005
  • Young Investigator Award, Dupont, 2005
  • Excellence in Teaching Award, School of Chemical Sciences, University of Illinois, UC, 2004
  • CAREER Award, National Science Foundation, 2004
  • Collins Scholar, Academy of Excellence in Engineering Education, 2001
  • Special Recognition Award, Dow Chemical Company, 1999, 2000