Nian Liu

Graduate Student


Nian was born and raised in China. Upon finishing his primary education, Nian traveled to California to obtain his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He graduated with highest honors and received the Departmental Citation of his class, which was only awarded to the top student. During his education at UC Berkeley, he worked with Prof. John Prausnitz on the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass for biofuel production. He is now a PhD student in the Gregory Stephanopoulos lab to continue the research on biofuels. His primary projects include using metabolic flux analysis as a powerful tool to elucidate the physiology of an oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica and to engineer this organism for enhanced lipid production from acetate. In this process, the biologically synthesized lipids can be further upgraded into biodiesel with identical properties as conventional diesel while the feedstock, acetate, can be obtained from carbon dioxide fixing acetogens, thereby achieving the conversion from CO2 to fuels.

Email: nianl (at) mit (dot) edu



Xu, J., Liu, N., Stephanopoulos, G. Application of metabolic controls for the maximization of lipid production in semicontinuous fermentation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114 (27), E5308-E5316, 2017. link

Li, Z., Qiao, K., Liu, N., Stephanopoulos, G. Engineering Yarrowia lipolytica for Poly-3-hydroxybutyrate production. Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology, 44 (4-5), 605-612, 2016. link

Liu, N., Qiao, K., Stephanopoulos, G. 13C Metabolic Flux Analysis of Acetate Conversion into Lipids by Yarrowia lipolyticaMetabolic Engineering38, 86-97, 2016. link

Yang, F., Afzal, W., Cheng, K., Liu, N., Pauly, M., Bell, A. T., Prausnitz, J. M. Nitric-acid Hydrolysis of Miscanthus Giganteus to Sugars Fermented to Bioethanol. Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering20 (2), 304-314, 2015. link