Skip to content

Brian Davison

Chief Scientist, Systems Biology and Biotechnology, ORNL


Dr. Brian Davison is Chief Scientist for Systems Biology and Biotechnology, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He also serves as the Chief Scientist for the DOE-BER (Biological and Environmental Research) Genomic Sciences program. Brian Davison is a lead in the DOE Bioenergy Science Center ( responsible for integration, characterization and modeling. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Chemical Engineering, at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He recently served two years as the Director of Life Sciences Division at ORNL. He was previously a Distinguished Researcher & BioChemical Engineering Research Group leader. In his twenty-five years at ORNL he has performed biotechnology research in variety of areas including bioconversion of renewable resources (ethanol, organic acids, solvents), non-aqueous biocatalysis, systems analysis of microbes (cultivation and proteomics), biofiltration of VOCs, mixed cultures, immobilization of microbes and enzymes, metal biosorption, and extractive fermentations. The theme connecting his work is life at the interface of solid, liquid, and gas phases between biocatalysts and their environments. This has resulted in over 100 publications and six patents. He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology, and his B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering, from the University of Rochester.

He led a multilab team which received an R&D100 Award in 1997 for ";Production of Chemicals from Biologically Derived Succinic Acid,"; a process now in commercialization. He was awarded the UT-Battelle Science Communicator of 2010 at ORNL for his efforts in bioenergy and education. He co-chaired the 15th to 26th Symposia on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals, served as editor of the Proceedings in Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., (1994 – 2005). He received the 2006 C.D. Scott award by the Society of Industrial Microbiology. He serves as the chairman of the ORNL Institutional Biosafety Committee from 2001 to present. He was named a Fellow in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in 2006.


Tetard L , A Passian, RH Farahi, UC Kalluri, BH Davison, T Thundat. "Spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy of biomass," Ultramicroscopy 110:701-707 (2010).

Pu, YQ, F Chen, A Ziebell, BH Davison, AJ Ragauskas. "NMR Characterization of C3H and HCT Down-Regulated Alfalfa Lignin," Bioenergy Res. 2:SI 198-208 (2009).    

Borole, A. P.; Hamilton, C. Y.; Vishnivetskaya, T. A.; Leak, D.; Andras, C.; Morrell-Falvey, J.; Davison, B. H.; Keller, M.. "Integrating Engineering Design Improvements with Exoelectrogen Enrichment Process to Increase Power Output from Microbial Fuel Cells," J. Power. Sources 191:520-527(2009).

Lynd, LR, MS Laser, D Bransby, BE Dale, B Davison, R Hamilton, M Himmel, M Keller, JD McMillan, J Sheehan, CE Wyman, "How Biotech can transform biofuels" Nature Biotechnology26:169-172 (2008)

VerBerkmoes, NC, MB Shah, PK Lankford, DA Pelletier, MB Strader, David L. Tabb, WH McDonald, JW Barton, GB Hurst, L Hauser, BH Davison, JT Beatty, CS Harwood, FR Tabita, RL Hettich, and FW Larimer, "Determination and Comparison of the Baseline Proteomes of the Versatile Microbe Rhodopseudomonas palustris under its Major Metabolic States,"  J. Proteome Res. 5:287-298 (2006).

Arthur J. Ragauskas, AJ, CK Williams, BH Davison, G Britovsek, J Cairney, CA Eckert, J Frederick, JP Hallett, D Leak, CL Liotta, JR Mielenz, R Murphy, R Templer, T Tschaplinski, "The Path Forward for Biofuels and Biomaterials," Science 311(5760):484-489 (2006). 

Davison, B.H., Drescher, S.R., Tuskan, G.A., Davis, M.F., and Nghiem, N.P., "Variation of S/G Ratio and Lignin Content in a Populus Family Influences the Release of Fermentable Sugars by Dilute Acid Hydrolysis," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol, 129-132:427-435 (2006).

Davison, B.H., Nghiem, N.P., Richardson, G.L., "Succinic Acid Adsorption from Fermentation Broth and Regeneration," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., 113-116: 653-669 (2004). 

Barton, J.W., Vodraska, C.D., Jones, S.A., and Davison, B.H., "Partitioning of BTEX and Chloroorganics in High-Biomass Systems," Environmental Progress 22 (2):95-102(2003).

Cameron, P.A., Davison, B.H., Frymier, P.D., and Barton, J.W., "Gas Phase Enzyme Catalysis For Transesterification Reactions Using Immobilized Lipase," Biotechnol. Bioeng., 78:251-256 (2002).

Wang, P., Dai, S., Waezsada, S.D., Tsao, A.Y., and Davison, B.H., "Enzyme Activation and Stabilization by Covalent Binding in Mesoporous Sol-gel Glass for Nonaqueous Biocatalysis," Biotechnol. Bioeng., 74:24-255 (2001).

Krishnan, M.S., Taylor, F., Davison, B.H., Nghiem, N.P., "Economic Analysis of Fuel Ethanol Production from Corn Starch Using Fluidized-Bed Bioreactors, "Bioresource Technology" 75: 99-105 (2000).

Sun, M.Y., Nghiem, N.P., Davison, B.H., Webb, O.F., and Bienkowski, P.R., "Production of Ethanol from Starch by Co-Immobilized Zymomonas mobilis-Glucoamylase in a Fluidized Bed Reactor," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., 70-72, 429-439 (1998).

Davison, B.H., Barton, J.W., and Petersen, G., "Nomenclature and Methodology for Classification of Nontraditional Biocatalysis"; Biotechnol. Prog., 13: 512-518 (1997).

Nghiem, N.P., Davison, B.H., Suttle, B.E., and Richardson, G.L., "Production of Succinic Acid by Anaerobiospirillum Succiniciproducens," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol.,  63-65: 565-576 (1997).

Davison, B.H., and Thompson, J.E., "Continuous Direct Solvent Extraction of Butanol in a Fermenting Fluidized-Bed Bioreactor with Immobilized Clostridium acetobutylicum," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., 39-40, 415-426 (1993).

Davison, B.H., and Scott, C.D.,"Operability and Feasibility of Ethanol Production by Immobilized Zymomonas Mobilis in a Fluidized-Bed Bioreactor," Appl. Biochem. Biotech., 18, 19-34 (1988).

Davison, B.H. and Stephanopoulos, G.N., "Stability and Coexistence due to Inhibition in a Continuous Competing Mixed Culture," Biotech. & Bioeng., 28 (11), 1742-1752 (1986).

Contact Information

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.