News Isaac Cann Named New EBI Deputy Director

Energy Biosciences Institute Director Chris Somerville has announced that Professor Isaac Cann of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been chosen by the EBI Governance Board to be the next Deputy Director of the institute.

Cann will be taking over the position from Dr. Stephen Long, who steps down at the end of 2012 after five years in the role. “We salute Steve Long for his vision, leadership, and exemplary accomplishments, and we congratulate Isaac on his new appointment. We are sure that Isaac will provide outstanding vision and leadership to the EBI,” Somerville said in a statement to EBI staff on Dec. 21.

Cann is a Professor of Microbiology and Animal Sciences, Program Leader in the EBI, and affiliate of the Biocomplexity theme at the Institute for Genomic Biology. He has been involved with the EBI for many years, serving as a principal investigator within the biomass depolymerization research initiative. His research program concerns the discovery and characterization of genes and the corresponding enzymes that catalyze efficient conversion of cellulose to sugars.

“Further, his group’s work to isolate cellulose-degrading enzymes from microbes found in hot springs is being integrated into the research on fermentation systems that other EBI scientists are developing,” Somerville noted.

Cann joined the University of Illinois in 2001 after studying Animal Science at the University of Ghana and later earning his Ph.D. in Rumen Microbiology from Mie University, Japan. He has been the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2003 and was named a Center for Advanced Study Fellow in 2005. In addition to his work with plant cell wall deconstruction, his laboratory also uses biochemical and genomic approaches to study the evolutionary relationships of DNA replication proteins, specifically in archaeal/eukaryotic lineages.

The Energy Biosciences Institute is a four-partner research collaboration that includes the University of Illinois, the University of California at Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and BP, the energy company that funds the work. It is dedicated to applying the biological sciences to the challenges of producing sustainable, renewable energy for the world.


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