Sadowsky Named Director of the BioTechnology Institute
Michael Sadowsky, a recognized authority on using microorganisms to clean
up the environment, has been appointed director of the BioTechnology Institute (BTI) effective September 1.
Sadowsky, who is a professor in the University’s Department of Soil, Water
and Climate and co-director of the Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute,
has been a BTI faculty member since 1997. He joined the University in 1989
after spending three years as a microbiologist for the U.S. Department of
Agriculture and a year as a molecular biologist in industry.
In addition to his achievements in bioremediation, Sadowsky has shed light
on symbiotic relationships between soil microbes and plants, and developed
DNA fingerprinting methods to identify bacteria in the environment. Time
magazine cited his research on sources of water pollution as a key
contribution to environmental microbiology. Sadowsky’s achievements have
earned him membership in the American Academy of Microbiology and in the
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
More recently, Sadowsky has led development of the University’s Minnesota
Mississippi Genome Project (M3P), which aims to create a DNA database of
microorganisms at the headwaters of the Mississippi and to evaluate human
impact, notably from agriculture, at points downstream.
As director, Sadowsky plans to build on BTI’s success at developing
environmentally friendly biochemical and microbial technologies for
industry. Supported by the University’s Biocatalysis Initiative, BTI
researchers have developed enzymes to produce energy, plastics and
chemicals from renewable resources to replace petroleum-based products.
They are also developing biosensors, nanotechnology and novel biological
compounds with applications for the environment, medicine and the food
"Most of the work being done at BTI revolves around biocatalysis,” Sadowsky
says. “We clearly have expertise in this area, and this is where we really
can make a big impact in the future."
Sadowsky hopes to promote BTI as a place for collaborative research among
university faculty, to raise its visibility within Minnesota and beyond,
and to build stronger relationships with more biotechnology companies.
“I want biotechnology companies to know more about how we can help them and
I want to know what they need from us,” Sadowsky says. “There’s a lot we
can learn from each other.”
BTI is jointly administered by the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) and
the Institute of Technology. Faculty members come from these two colleges
as well as the Medical School and the College of Food, Agriculture and
Natural Resource Sciences. They have a variety of expertise ranging from
biochemistry and microbiology to chemical and agricultural engineering. In
addition to research, BTI provides educational programs for students who
aspire to careers in academia and industry.