Research in the Ong Lab

Environment, Biomass, & Process Interactions

We are interested in understanding how the environment, feedstock, and process interact to affect process yields from lignocellulosics.

Upgrading Waste Plastics

We have recently begun work on deconstruction and upgrading of waste plastics.

Bio-based Product Development

We are interested in creating novel, economical, sustainable lignocellulosic-based products.


New DARPA Funding! From Plastic to Protein

The Ong Lab gets to be part of a team of researchers that have been selected for a $7.2 million DARPA cooperative agreement award to turn military plastic waste into protein powder and lubricants.

We're looking for a grad student and Post Doc to work on this project! Email rgong1 [at] mtu [dot] edu your CV/resume, a cover letter, and 3 references to apply.

Research Spotlight

Raisa Andeme Ela's first paper as a PhD student investigates how precipitation process variables influence lignin precipitation, and uncovers phenomena governing how pH affects lignin solubility.

Magical Microbes and Color-Changing Potions

Dr. Ong's Husky Bites Webinar: Come enter the magical world of herbology and potions. Learn how to make your own color-changing potion and use it to find the best conditions to generate and collect fungus breath. We will discover the science behind the magic and learn what makes plants and microbes so cool and how engineers use them to make our world a better place.

Funded Job Openings

All funded Post Doc or Staff positions include salary and full benefits, and all Graduate Student (PhD or MS student) positions include a stipend, benefits, and tuition for Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Reactor Design and Optimization for Chemical Deconstruction of Waste Plastics

This research is focused on construction of novel chemical deconstruction reactors and process configurations and optimization of processing conditions for waste plastic deconstruction.

PhD Student in Chemical Engineering

Biological Upgrading of Waste Plastics

This research is focused on microbial upgrading of products of chemically and/or thermally deconstructed waste plastic. The work will involve optimizing bioprocessing conditions to maximize yield and quality of higher value product streams.

PhD or Master’s Student in Chemical Engineering

Analysis of Wood-Based Bioenergy Systems

This research is focused on analysis of risks, barriers, and opportunities for near-term wood-based bioenergy systems in Tribal Nations and rural communities in Michigan.

Recent News

September 2020: Our funded research project on biological upgrading of waste plastics officially begins. Aiden Truettner is the first student on the project. Welcome Aiden!

August 2020: Raisa Andeme Ela's paper understanding effect of precipitation variables on lignin recovery from black liquor has been published!

July 2020: Sarvada Chipkar passes her proposal defense and becomes a PhD candidate!

June 2020: Ong lab reopens following 3 month university shutdown. We're going to survive COVID.

June 2020:Dr. Ong presents a Husky Bites Seminar: Color-Changing Potions and Magical Microbes.

March 2020:Dr. Ong is selected by Dean Janet Callahan to be a member of the Deans' Teaching Showcase.


We gratefully acknowledge funding from the following sources: