Niu Du, PhD, received his BS in marine chemistry at Ocean University of China, Qingdao (2006) and PhD at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego (2018). Prior to his PhD career he worked at Liaoning Ocean and Fishery Science Research Institute studying trace metal contaminations in the Bohai Sea, and now he is a post-doctoral scholar at JCVI working with Dr. Andrew Allen studying functional genomics and systems biology in photosynthetic microorganisms.

Dr. Du’s research interest is to better understand the energy propagations in photosynthesis. His current research uses functional genomics approach and bioinformatics tools to investigate the regulation mechanisms in a model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, which has shown remarkable high light tolerance capacities. The findings from these studies will provide insights on how to better design metabolic pathways in photosynthetic microorganisms and ultimately crops for energy harvesting and utilization, more specifically, minimizing undesirable energy losses from high light stress and maximizing the efficiency of carbon fixation.


Research interests

Bioinformatics and systems biology

  • Systems biology and genome scale metabolic modeling for pathway and gene function characterization
  • Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data analysis
  • Machine learning model development and algorithm design

Microbial physiology

  • Experimental design, execution and data analysis
  • Phenotype characterization and genotype-phenotype correlation
  • Energy utilization measurement and efficiency computation

Instrumentation and ocean science

  • Marine chemistry with focus on carbonate system and boundary layer interactions
  • Bioreactor design, modification and implementation
  • Software development for laboratory instrument data acquisition and analysis



  1. Du, Niu, Pardis Gholami, David I. Kline, Christopher L. DuPont, Andrew G. Dickson, Dominick Mendola, Todd Martz, Andrew E. Allen, and B. Greg Mitchell. “Simultaneous quantum yield measurements of carbon uptake and oxygen evolution in microalgal cultures.” PloS one 13, no. 6 (2018): e0199125.
  2. Broddrick, Jared T., Niu Du, Sarah R. Smith, Yoshinori Tsuji, Denis Jallet, Maxwell A. Ware, Graham Peers et al. “Cross‐compartment metabolic coupling enables flexible photoprotective mechanisms in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum.” New Phytologist (2019).
  3. Broddrick JT, Rubin BE, Welkie DG, Du N, Mih N, Diamond S, et al. Unique attributes of cyanobacterial metabolism revealed by improved genome-scale metabolic modeling and essential gene analysis. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2016;113: E8344–E8353. doi:10.1073/pnas.1613446113
  4. Woertz IC, Benemann JR, Du N, Unnasch S, Mendola D, Mitchell BG, et al. Life cycle GHG emissions from microalgal biodiesel–a CA-GREET model. Environ Sci Technol. American Chemical Society; 2014;48: 6060–8. doi:10.1021/es403768q