Mari Chinn


  • 919-515-6744
  • D S Weaver Labs 277
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Ph.D. 2003

Biosystem Engineering

University of Kentucky

M.S. 2000

Biosystem Engineering

University of Kentucky

B.S. 1998

Biological Systems Engineering

University of California, Davis

Research Description

The defined research program focuses on production of bio-based products, such as enzymes, biochemicals, and biofuels from agro-industrial residues and dedicated biomass crops. Several areas make up the program to address the diversity of renewable resources available and various processing methods that can be applied to generate products and enhance value: --Semi-solid fermentation technology, including solid substrate cultivation and liquid cultivations using solid carbon sources --Enzymatic conversion methods and fermentation for development of effective biomass conversion processes --Hybrid application of thermal and microbial conversion technologies for biofuel production from lignocellulosic biomass --Solvent extraction processes are also being investigated for biomass materials that contain natural colorants, nutraceuticals and other high value compounds. Integrated processing systems, linking crop production and storage practices to development of conversion technology, analytical methods and process model evaluation The projects and activities in these areas have evolved over time, yet the primary goal of establishing functional uses of renewable materials suited to NC for industrial bioproducts that promote sustainability and enhance rural development has remained the same. The biomass studied includes sugar, starch and lignocellulosic crops with divisions of the program developing strongly around sweet sorghum, industrial sweetpotatoes (ISP), perennial grasses, oil seeds, and single carbon gases derived from lignocellulosic materials. The research approach involves both basic and applied objectives, leading to development of processes at various scales, lab to industrial, that often integrate multiple operations within a given system. The program incorporates research direction for and scholarly contributions from research associates, post-docs, graduate students and undergraduate researchers. Education and outreach activities to disseminate advances in the research are also efforts integrated into the program.

Honors and Awards

  • ASABE A. W Farrall Young Educator Award, 2011


Improvement of acid hydrolysis procedures for the composition analysis of herbaceous biomass
Whitfield, M. B., Chinn, M. S., & Veal, M. W. (2016), Energy & Fuels, 30(10), 8260-8269.
Inoculum optimization of Clostridium beijerinckii for reproducible growth
Sandoval-Espinola, W. J., Chinn, M., & Bruno-Barcena, J. M. (2015), FEMS Microbiology Letters, 362(19).
Metabolic response of Clostridium ljungdahlii to oxygen exposure
Whitham, J. M., Tirado-Acevedo, O., Chinn, M. S., Pawlak, J. J., & Grunden, A. M. (2015), Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81(24), 8379-8391.
Recommendations to mitigate potential sources of error in preparation of biomass sorghum samples for compositional analyses used in industrial and forage applications
Whitfield, M. B., Chinn, M. S., & Veal, M. W. (2014), Bioenergy Research, 7(4), 1561-1570.
Simultaneous saccharification and fermentation of industrial sweetpotatoes for ethanol production and anthocyanins extraction
Diaz, J. T., Chinn, M. S., & Truong, V. D. (2014), Industrial Crops and Products, 62, 53-60.
Interactions between fungal growth, substrate utilization, and enzyme production during solid substrate cultivation of Phanerochaete chrysosporium on cotton stalks
Shi, J., Chinn, M. S., & Sharma-Shivappa, R. R. (2014), Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering, 37(12), 2463-2473.
The farm to biorefinery continuum: A techno-economic and LCA analysis of ethanol production from sweet sorghum juice
Caffrey, K. R., Veal, M. W., & Chinn, M. S. (2014), Agricultural Systems, 130, 55-66.
Development of NIRS models to predict composition of enzymatically processed sweetpotato
Diaz, J. T., Veal, M. W., & Chinn, M. S. (2014), Industrial Crops and Products, 59, 119-124.
Comparative phenotypic analysis and genome sequence of Clostridium beijerinckii SA-1, an offspring of NCIMB 8052
Sandoval-Espinola, W. J., Makwana, S. T., Chinn, M. S., Thon, M. R., Azcarate-Peril, M. A., & Bruno-Barcena, J. M. (2013), Microbiology (Reading, England), 159, 2558-2570.
Generalized Markov graph model: Application to social network analysis
Schuster, B. G., & Chinn, M. S. (2013), Bioenergy Research, 6(2), 416-435.

View all publications via NC State Libraries

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Biomass Sorghum Variety Evaluation
NC Biotechnology Center(5/01/16 - 11/30/16)
Nutrient Dynamics and Production of Bioenergy Crops in Swine Effluent Sprayfields in North Carolina 2015-2016
NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services(1/01/16 - 12/31/16)
Ensilage Technologies as Harvest Management Strategies for Bioenergy Feedstocks
NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services(1/01/15 - 8/31/17)
Nutrient Dynamics and Production of Bioenergy Crops in Swine Effluent Sprayfields in North Carolina
NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services(11/01/14 - 3/31/16)
A Study to Determine if the Biofuel Crop Camelina is a Wildlife Attractant
NC Department of Transportation(8/15/14 - 12/31/16)
Production and Nutrient Dynamics of Bioenergy Crops on Swine Effluent Sprayfields in North Carolina
NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services(4/01/14 - 2/28/15)
Rapid Quantification of Natural Products by NIR Methods and Characterization of Marketable Co-Products: Applications in Clary Sage Sage
AVOCA, Inc.(1/01/14 - 12/31/15)
Sorghum Biofuels: A Route to Commercialization in North Carolina
NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services(8/26/13 - 3/31/16)
Production of Potential Bioenergy Crops on Swine Effluent Sprayfields in North Carolina
NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services(8/26/13 - 6/30/14)
Evaluating Cotton Field Soil Health Improvements by Cover Crops
Cotton, Inc.(1/01/13 - 12/31/14)