Faculty

Faculty

Ahmed F. Yousef

Ahmed F. Yousef

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Dr. Ahmed F. Yousef completed his MSc and PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Western Ontario in Canada in 2005 and 2009 respectively. The focus of his graduate work was transcriptional control as well as protein interactions, post-translational modifications and cellular networks. In 2011, he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the Richard Ivey School of Business in Canada, where his focus was entrepreneurship and the biotechnology sector. He trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California in Los Angeles, where his focus was DNA replication and virology.

Dr. Yousef joined the faculty of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Masdar Institute in June 2013
 

COURSES/TEACHING INTERESTS

  • ESM 507 – Management and Entrepreneurship for Engineers
  • WEN 612 – Soil Investigations: Chemistry and Biology as Matrices of Soil Quality

Advisor to Current Masdar Institute Students:

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Understanding salt tolerance mechanisms and various sugar utilization pathways in yeast:
As the world heads closer to the impending world energy and water crisis, efforts have been directed to establishing novel sustainable sources of fuel.  Much of the effort is currently being directed towards second generation biofuels, relying on lignocellulosic biomass as a source of carbon for ethanol production through fermentation.  The pretreatment of second generation biomass is an important step in releasing accessible sugars for the fermenting organisms to convert to ethanol.  The pretreatment of the biomass can lead to the production of a hostile growth medium full of growth inhibitors and other molecules that result in a decrease in biofuel yield.  The abundance of “salty biomass”, such as Salicornia, in the United Arab Emirates is cause for new efforts directed at designing new engineering processes for “salty bioreactors”.  Our lab is currently studying the pathways regulating salt tolerance and xylose utilization in a halotolerant yeast species called Debaryomyces hansenii.  The ultimate objective is to transplant some of these pathways into Saccharomyces cerevisiae and create new strains of baker’s yeast that can grow happily in saltier environments and utilize five carbon sugars.

Engineer M13 bacteriophage with novel material binding and assembly characteristics:
M13 bacteriophage is a virus that infects E. coli.  By inserting DNA sequences into its genome, it is possible to express polypeptide sequences on the surface of the virus.  Importantly, M13 has the ability to self-assemble into predictable structures under certain conditions.  These structures are organized at the nanometer scale and can serve as scaffolds for novel materials as viruses with the ability to bind various compounds and materials are engineered.  Our lab will use various approaches in order to first engineer viruses that form more complex structures with nanometer level organization, and second use these viruses to create novel materials that have applications in water desalination and power applications.

Research interests:

  • Biotechnology
  • Virology
  • Microbiology