ChE Seminar Series: Yeongseon Jang, Ph.D.

Date(s) - 01/16/2024
9:00 am - 10:00 am

HPNP 1404


Title: Protein-Powered Synthetic Protocells: Insights from Highly Tunable Globular Protein Vesicles

Yeongseon Jang, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Chemical Engineering
University of Florida

This seminar introduces an innovative approach to creating bioinspired materials, focusing on protein-powered synthetic protocells. We employ a systematic engineering methodology for constructing these protocells, utilizing self-assembling recombinant fusion proteins composed of globular proteins, leucine zippers, and elastin-like polypeptides (ELP). Depending on environmental parameters, these protein building blocks can transition into coacervates or vesicles (Globular Protein Vesicles (GPVs)), thus mimicking cellular compartment-like structures. This seminar will discuss the control and characterization of the structural properties of GPVs. Key aspects include their stability against external stimuli, permeability, and membrane structures, which are crucial for integrating and engineering the biological functionalities of GPVs.

Additionally, we will highlight our current efforts, focusing on creating giant GPVs capable of de novo protein synthesis through in vitro transcription and translation, and sensing biochemicals. This moves us closer to synthesizing autonomous synthetic cells. This research offers insights into the origins of biological life and paves the way for creating sophisticated cellular functions in synthetic materials. Beyond scientific exploration, the seminar will emphasize this project’s commitment to educational and societal inclusivity, with a special focus on empowering women and young girls in science.


Dr. Yeongseon Jang is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Florida, leading a research team to develop bioinspired materials made of polymers and proteins. She received her B.S. degree and Ph.D. degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering at Seoul National University in 2008 and 2013. Before joining the University of Florida, she did her post-doctoral training in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and Georgia Institute of Technology under the supervision of Profs. Daeyeon Lee, Daniel A. Hammer, and Julie Champion.

Since she started her position at UF, her laboratory has developed new supramolecular biomaterials to address human health challenges. Her current research focuses on the bottom-up construction of artificial cells by engineering self-assembly of recombinant fusion proteins with the assessment of their therapeutic potential and subcellular processing mechanisms. Dr. Jang is devoted to contributing the society by mentoring students from K-8 to the postdoctoral level to guide and motivate next-generation scientists and researchers in STEM. She has received awards and honors, including the NSF CAREER Award and KIChE President Young Investigator Award.