PhD, Chemical Engineering, Caltech, 2013

MS, Chemical Engineering, Caltech, 2009

BS, Chemical Engineering, Cornell, 2005



leodespaux at

5885 Hollis St, 4th Floor, Emeryville, CA 94608

Office: 4510,    Lab: SynBio1


Current Research

I work on engineering yeast for production of drugs, biofuels, and other chemicals, and on using CRISPR/Cas9 for high-throughput gene editing in yeast. I focus on the fatty acid pathway for producing energy-dense chemicals that can be used as biofuels. I also work on isoprenoids, which are formed through a common pathway but can branch into a huge diversity of molecules including ones suitable as biofuels, drugs, and other products. I’ve developed CRISPR/Cas9 tools to engineer these and other pathways quickly and allow precise control over how, where, and when a gene of interest is expressed.



L d’Espaux*, AR Reider-Apel*, M Wehrs*, D Sachs, R Li, ME Garber, A Mukhopaday, and JD Keasling. A Cas9-based toolkit to program gene expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In submission (2016)

L d’Espaux, D Mendez-Perez, R Li, and JD Keasling. Synthetic biology for microbial production of lipid-based biofuels. Curr. Opin. Chem. Biol. (2015)

AB Kennedy*, JV Vowles*, L dEspaux, and CD Smolke. Protein-responsive ribozme switches in eukaryotic cells. Nucleic Acids Research (2014)

Y Li, YD Tseng, SY Kwon, L d’Espaux, JS Bunch, PL Mceuen and D Luo. Controlled assembly of dendrimer-like DNA. Nature Materials (2004)



  • NSF Graduate Fellow
  • Caltech Moore Fellow
  • ACS Scholar
  • Cornell Presidential Research Scholar