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Contact Information

Email: Click to Mail

Phone: (805) 893-4769

Fax: (805) 893-4731

Office Location: 3343 Engineering II

Address: Assistant Professor Michelle A. O’Malley
Chemical Engineering Department
Mail Code 5080
Engineering 2 Bldg, Rm 3357
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5080 USA

Lab Phone: (805) 893-3993

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Research Group Home Page

Education & Honors

BS: Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, 2004; Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, 2004

PhD: Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware, 2009

2014 Hellman Faculty Fellowship
2013 Department of Energy Early Career Award
2011 U.S. Department of Agriculture-NIFA Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant
2011 Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Fellowship
2010 Company of Biologists International Travel Fellowship
2007 University of Delaware Department of Chemical Engineering Teaching Fellowship
2007 Merck Award for Best Overall Poster, Biochemical Engineering XV
2007 American Chemical Society Leadership Development Award
2006 NASA-Harriett G. Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship
2004 NSF-IGERT Predoctoral Fellowship in Biotechnology
2000 Presidential Scholarship, Carnegie Mellon University

Postdoctoral Fellow MIT Department of Biology/Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, 2009-2012


Proteins are the building blocks of life, and are responsible for processes ranging from intricate cellular communication to enzymatic conversion on an industrial scale. A better understanding of how proteins are synthesized by cells, and how their three-dimensional structure informs their function would enhance our ability to engineer proteins (and cellular expression platforms) for diverse biomedical and biotechnology applications. To address these issues, our approach combines classical cell biology tools with cutting-edge technologies (genome sequencing, RNAseq, cellular reprogramming) that are rooted in the core biological sciences to interrogate and engineer molecular mechanisms that underlie protein production in eukaryotic cells. In addition, we rely on biophysical methods to elucidate protein-protein contacts, with the aim of controlling these interactions both in vivo and in vitro. Systems of interest to us have broad applicability to bioenergy and sustainability, as well as to drug development and detection.

Current areas of interest include:
• Discovery of novel cellulolytic proteins via metatranscriptomics
• Genetic and cellular engineering for biofuels and bioremediation
• Engineering membrane protein oligomers for drug discovery
• Development of a membrane protein-based drug detection platform


C. H. Haitjema, K. V. Solomon, J. K. Henske, M. K. Theodorou, M. A. O’Malley, "Anaerobic gut fungi: advances in isolation, culture, and cellulolytic enzyme discovery for biofuel production," Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 111(8): 1471-1482 (2014).

K. V. Solomon, C. H. Haitjema, D. A. Thompson, M. A. O’Malley, "Extracting data from the muck: deriving biological insight from complex microbial communities and non-model organisms with next generation sequencing," Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 28: 103-110 (2014).

M. A. O’Malley, M. K. Theodorou, C. A. Kaiser, "Evaluating expression and catalytic activity of anaerobic fungal fibrolytic enzymes native to Piromyces sp E2 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae," Environmental Progress and Sustainable Energy, 31(1): 37-46 (2012).

M. A. O’Malley, M. E. Helgeson, N. J. Wagner, A. S. Robinson, "Toward rational design of protein detergent complexes: determinants of mixed micelles that are critical for the in vitro stabilization of a G-protein coupled receptor," Biophysical Journal, 101(8): 1938-1948 (2011).

M. A. O'Malley, M. E. Helgeson, N. J. Wagner, A. S. Robinson, "The morphology and composition of cholesterol-rich micellar nanostructures determine transmembrane protein (GPCR) activity," Biophysical Journal, 100(2):L11-L13 (2011).

M. A. O'Malley, A. N. Naranjo, T. Lazarova, A. S. Robinson, "Analysis of adenosine A2a receptor stability: effects of ligands and disulfide bonds," Biochemistry, 49: 9181-9189 (2010).

M. A. O'Malley, J. D. Mancini, C. L. Young, E. C. McCusker, D. Raden, A. S. Robinson, "Progress towards heterologous expression of active G-protein coupled receptors in Saccharomyces cerevisiae: linking cellular stress responses with translocation and trafficking," Protein Science 18(11):2356-2370 (2009).

M. A. O'Malley, T. Lazarova, Z. T. Britton, A. S. Robinson, "High-level expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae enables isolation and spectroscopic characterization of functional human adenosine A2a receptor," Journal of Structural Biology 159:166-178 (2007).

E. C. McCusker, S. E. Bane, M. A. O'Malley, A. S. Robinson, "Heterologous GPCR expression: a bottleneck to obtaining crystal structures," Biotechnology Progress 23(3):540-547 (2007).

A. Wedekind, M. A. O'Malley, R. T. Niebauer, A. S. Robinson, "Optimization of the human adenosine A2a receptor yields in Saccharomyces cerevisiae," Biotechnology Progress 22(5):1249-1255 (2006).