My research is in the broad, interdisciplinary field of synthetic biology, which applies engineering principles to biology. Within this field, we apply chemical engineering tenets to reprogram the DNA of yeasts, bacteria, and fungi so their metabolism produces interesting molecules. By treating these cells as "chemical factories," we can approach and solve problems in biofuels, biomaterials, and biosensors from a chemical engineer's point of view. Our strengths are in the disciplines of metabolic engineering, protein engineering, and systems biology, which we use to construct novel synthetic microbes. We collaborate with researchers across WPI, other institutions, and biotechnology companies to solve problems by engineering biology.
In the classroom, I train students within the unique project-based learning approach at WPI. To me, there is no greater reward than teaching a new generation of problem solvers that will make meaningful contributions to all areas of chemical engineering, and beyond. This is enabled by WPI’s emphasis on technology & society, which creates an environment where students can attain technical proficiency, study social impacts, and develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Therefore, I integrate value creation and social consciousness into my biochemical engineering courses.
Professional Highlights & Honors
In this article, the Telegram & Gazette reported on Eric Young, assistant professor of chemical engineering, being part of a team developing a biosecurity tool that can detect engineered microorganisms based on their unique DNA signatures. “There’s this huge change in how civilization works” thanks to the advent of GMOs, he told the T&G, “and the dream is that it’s a much more sustainable way of producing things.”