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Jeffrey A Mertens

Research Molecular Biologist

Biography and Research

Jeffrey A. Mertens, PhD – Research Molecular Biologist

Dr. Jeff Mertens has served as a research molecular biologist at USDA-ARS, NCAUR in Peoria, IL since 2004. Dr. Mertens received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from St. Norbert College and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry with a focus on enzymology from Michigan Technological University. He then conducted postgraduate research on rapid microbial detection systems while at the Miller Brewing Company. Dr. Mertens then went on to a short postgraduate position at NCAUR developing systems for the genetic engineering of a fungal species widely used in industrial processes.  His research while in his current position has been wide in scope; ranging from research on different enzyme classes and proteins important to obtaining simple sugars from biomass to isolation and strain development of the industrial yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as brewer’s yeast. The goal of Dr. Mertens current research is to isolate and develop yeast strains increasingly tolerant to inhibitors found in pretreated biomass to increase the efficiency of conversion of biomass-derived sugars to fuels and value-added products. His research also involves converting a pretreated biomass inhibitor to precursors for plastics through genetic engineering of tolerant yeast strains. 

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