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Christopher Okonkwo

Assistant Teaching Professor

Christopher Okonkwo is an assistant teaching professor of biotechnology at the Roux Institute at Northeastern University. Okonkwo has taught many courses in the professional science master’s biotechnology program at the Roux Institute, including experimental design and biostatistics, cell culture processes for biopharmaceutical production, molecular cell biology for biotechnology, and more. He has extensive experience teaching laboratory courses, including basic biotechnology laboratory skills and biotechnology applications laboratory.

Okonkwo was a research associate in the Department of Animal Sciences at Ohio State University and at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center prior to joining Northeastern University and the Roux Institute. His research has focused on using metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, and bioprocess design to develop microbial strains for converting waste into bioproducts and biochemicals. 

Okonkwo received his PhD in animal sciences with a specialization in biotechnology from The Ohio State University in 2017. He also holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry from the University of Nigeria. In his free time, Okonkwo enjoys playing soccer and tennis.

Research Overview

Okonkwo’s current research is focused on bioprocess development and rewiring of metabolic pathways in organisms for enhanced conversion of agricultural and forestry residues into bioproducts and biochemicals, and bioremediation of municipal and industrial waste. His research group employs metabolic engineering and genome editing techniques to improve the ability of organisms to valorize waste. Okonkwo’s research has been published in several leading journals in the field, including Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Bioresource Technology, and Industrial Crops and Products.

Okonkwo is an active member of several professional societies, including the American Society for Microbiology. He serves as a reviewer for several leading scientific journals. 

Areas of Expertise

  • Metabolic and Genetic Engineering
  • Bioprocess Development
  • Waste Valorization


  • Okonkwo, C. C., Duduyemi, A., Ujor, V. C., Atiyeh, H. K., Iloba, I., Qureshi, N., & Ezeji, T. C. (2023). From Agricultural Wastes to Fermentation Nutrients: A Case Study of 2, 3-Butanediol Production. Fermentation, 9(1), 36.
  •  Ujor, V. C., Lai, L. B., Okonkwo, C. C., Gopalan, V., & Ezeji, T. C. (2021). Ribozyme-Mediated downregulation uncovers DNA integrity scanning protein A (DisA) as a solventogenesis determinant in Clostridium beijerinckii. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, 9, 669462.
  •  Okonkwo, C. C., Ujor, V., & Ezeji, T. C. (2019). Chromosomal integration of aldo-keto-reductase and short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase genes in Clostridium beijerinckii NCIMB 8052 enhanced tolerance to lignocellulose-derived microbial inhibitory compounds. Scientific reports, 9(1), 7634.
  •  Okonkwo, C. C., Ujor, V., Cornish, K., & Ezeji, T. C. (2020). Inactivation of the levansucrase gene in Paenibacillus polymyxa DSM 365 diminishes exopolysaccharide biosynthesis during 2, 3-butanediol fermentation. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 86(9), e00196-20.
  • Sun, X., Atiyeh, H. K., Adesanya, Y., Okonkwo, C., Zhang, H., Huhnke, R. L., & Ezeji, T. (2020). Feasibility of using biochar as buffer and mineral nutrients replacement for acetone-butanol-ethanol production from non-detoxified switchgrass hydrolysate. Bioresource technology, 298, 122569.
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