Neil Dalvie

Research Fellow at the Synthetic Biology Hive

Schmidt Science Fellow

Harvard Medical School, Systems Biology

PhD, Chemical Engineering, MIT

Hi! I am a chemical engineer and research fellow at Harvard Medical School. Chemical engineers transform matter and energy into useful products. Microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria can act as renewable catalysts to turn cheap feedstocks into molecules with complex functions like preventing disease or eroding rocks (yes, rocks!). I am especially interested in how we can engineer cells and processes to perform well at large scales. Please read more about my research below. 

Current research: Bioweathering

To fight climate change, we need to capture and store gigatongs of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Luckily, the Earth has a natural answer for this - the rock cycle! When rocks weather and erode, they generate alkalinity in the oceans. This alkalinity allows the ocean to uptake and store carbon dioxide (which becomes an acid in water). The problem is that rock weathering takes thousands of years

I am working to engineer bacteria that can accelerate the breakdown of rocks. These engineered bacteria could be deployed in large-scale bioreactors to break down rocks. This would let us break down gigatons of rock (and capture gigatons of carbon) in less than 100 years.

Check out our recent perspective on bioweathering:

Weathering Perspective.pdf

Past research: Therapeutic protein manufacturing

At MIT, I studied the manufacturing of therapeutic proteins. While drugs are not made on the same scale as global carbon sequestration, large-scale manufacturing can help lower the cost of medicines, especially for low- and middle-income countries. We worked to develop the yeast Pichia pastoris to manufacture vaccines and antibody therapies. My work explored two approaches to enable and improve manufacturing processes in yeast - engineering the yeast and engineering the protein product itself.

During the pandemic, we had the chance to develop low-cost vaccine candidate for COVID-19 that reached clinical trials in India and Africa! Manufacturing was scaled-up at Serum Institute of India, the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world. Check out the pre-clinical results from our protein vaccine, tested by our friends at Harvard Medical School.

This work was featured in MIT News:


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2016-2022

PhD, Chemical Engineering

Minor in Systems Biology

Adviser: J. Christopher Love

Northwestern University, 2012-2016

BS, Chemical engineering

Minor in Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering

Summa Cum Laude

Adviser: Josh Leonard


Design and Development of Immunotherapies - Instructor, 2020, MIT

I co-designed and taught a new chemical engineering elective course on the current state and practices in design and manufacturing of immunotherapies. 

Introduction to Chemical Engineering - Teaching assistant, 2018, MIT

Northwestern Community Building Initiative - Instructor, 2015, Northwestern University

I co-taught a course on Asset-Based Community Development for the Northwestern campus.