Ryan Davis

Principal Member of the Technical Staff

As an undergraduate student at the University of Tulsa, Ryan Davis assisted on projects focused on combinatorial sol-gel synthesis for molecularly imprinted materials for detection of chemical warfare agents and development of optical methods for detection metabolically indicative exhalation gases in R&D funded by the DOD and NIH, respectively. He was first exposed to the Deptartment of Energy laboratories through an undergraduate internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he conducted studies of heavy metal migration and uptake in the local alluvial wetlands. His positive research experiences as an undergraduate led him to pursue a Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry, where he studied biomembranes and bio-materials interfaces using single molecule spectroscopy and imaging.


Bachelor’s Degree: Biochemistry, University of Tulsa (1997-2001)

Doctoral Degree: Physical Chemistry, University of New Mexico (2001-2006)

Postdoctoral Fellowships

Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico (2007-2009)

Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, California (2009-2012)

Research Interests

Algae for Biobased Commodities

As a part of Davis’s work as a principle investigator for the U.S. Department of Energy BioEnergy Technologies Office’s (BETO) Advanced Algal Systems and Conversion Interface programs, Davis operates Sandia’s Algae Testbed Facility, where Sandia researchers test microalgae strains and cultivation strategies in pilot-scale open raceway ponds under environmentally simulated conditions. In addition to the Algae Testbed Facility, which has been in operation since 2014, Davis also oversees BETO’s Algae Polyculture Production and Analysis consortium, with active deployments for coupling remediation of compromised surface waters with biomass production using attached periphytic algae cultivation in Corpus Christi, Texas, and the Salton Sea, California. Biomass that is produced using both cultivation strategies are concurrently being tested for conversion to fuels and petroleum displacing commodities at the Applied Biosciences Laboratory at Sandia-California.


Relevant Publications:

  • Vuppaladadiyam AK, Yao JG, Florin N, George A, Wang X, Labeeuw L, Jiang Y, Davis RW, Abbas A, Ralph P, Fennell PS, Zhao M. “Impact of flue gas compounds on microalgae and mechanisms for carbon assimilation and utilization” ChemSusChem (2017) 11:334-355 DOI: 10.1002/cssc.201701611
  • Wu W and Davis RW “One-pot bioconversion of algae biomass into terpenes for advanced biofuels and bioproducts” Algal Res (2017) 17:316-320. DOI: 10.1016/j.algal/2016.05.005
  • Wu W, Tran-Gyamfi MB, Jaryenneh JD, Davis RW “Cofactor engineering of keto-acid reductoisomerase (IlvC) and alcohol dehydrogenase (YqhD) improves the fusel alcohol yield in algal protein anaerobic fermentation” (2016) Algal Res 19:162-167 DOI: 10.1016/j.algal.2016.08.013
  • Davis RW, Siccardi AJ, Huysman ND, Wyatt NB, Lane TW “Growth of mono- and mixed cultures of Nannochloropsis salina and Phaeodactylum tricornutum on struvite as a nutrient source” Bioresrour. Technol. (2015) 198: 577-85 DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2015.09.070.
  • Davis RW, Carvalho BJ, Jones HDT, Singh S “The role of photo-osmotic adaptation in semi-continuous culture and lipid particle release from Dunaliella viridis” J. Appl. Phycol. (2014) DOI: 10.1007/s10811-014-0331-5.
  • Davis RW, George A, Lane TW, Pate RC, Wu BC “Tandem Biochemical and Thermochemical Conversion of Algal Biomass” US Appl. No. 14/750,960
  • Hewson JC, Davis RW, Lane TW “High Rate Algae Culture Using Struvite as a Nutrient Source” US Appl. No. 14/750,993

Biomarker Discovery and Multifactorial Analysis

Davis’s group utilizes high content imaging, multivariate analysis, and data fusion methods to identify biomarkers and evaluate the dynamics of biological systems relevant to emerging infectious disease and biomass for bioenergy.

Relevant Publications:

  • Davis RW, Jones HDT, Collins AM, Ricken JB, Sinclair MB, Timlin JA, Singh S “Label-free measurement of algal triactylglyceride production using fluorescence hyperspectral imaging” Algal Res. (2013) DOI: 10.1016/j.algal.2013.11.010
  • Davis RW, Volponi JV, Jones HDT, Carvalho BJ, Wu H, Singh S “Multiplex fluorometric assessment of nutrient limitation as a strategy for lipid enrichment and harvesting of Neochloris oleoabundans” Biotech. Bioeng. (2012) DOI: 10.1002/bit.24517.
  • Van Benthem MH, Lane TW, Davis RW, Lane P, Keenan MR “PARAFAC modeling of three-way hyperspectral images: Endogenous fluorophores as health biomarkers in aquatic species” Chemometr. Intell. Lab. (2011) 106; 115-124.
  • Davis RW, Timlin JA, Kaiser JN, Noek RM, Jones HDT, Sinclair MB, Lane TW “Accurate detection of low levels of fluorescence emission in autofluorescent background: Francisella-infected macrophage cells” Microsc. Microanal. (2010) 16; 478-487.
  • Davis RW, Aaron JS, Timlin JA, Rempe SB “Fluorescence fluctuation analysis of mixed chromophores from a line-scanning hyperspectral imaging system” Proc. SPIE (2010) 7570, 757002, 1-11.
  • Haaland DM, Sinclair MB, Jones HDJ, Davis RW, Timlin JA, Van Benthem MH, Melgaard D “Hyperspectral goes hyperspeed” R&D Mag (July 27, 2009)
  • Andrews NL, Pfeiffer JR, Martinez AM, Haaland DM, Davis RW, Kawakami T, Oliver JM, Wilson BS, Lidke DS “Small mobile FcεR1 receptor aggregates are signaling competent” Immunity (2009) 31; 469-479
  • Davis RW, Jones HDT, Carson B, Sinclair MB “Hyperspectral image correlation for monitoring membrane protein dynamics in living cells” Proc. SPIE (2009) 7184-17(1), 1-12.
  • Van Benthem MH, Keenan MR, Davis RW, Liu P, Jones HDT, Haaland DM, Sinclair MB, Brasier AR “Trilinear analysis of images obtained with a hyperspectral imaging confocal microscope” J. Chemometrics. (2008) 22(9); 491-9.
  • Davis RW, Wu H, Singh S “Apparatus and Method for Measuring Single Cell and Subcellular Photosynthetic Efficiency” US Appl. No. 61/384,790

High Performance Fuels, Biomaterials, and Biomimetic Systems

In addition to Sandia’s efforts to increase the productivity and resilience of algae biomass production for biobased commodities, Davis serves as a principle investigator for DOE’s Co-optimization of fuels and engines program. This work aims to increase energy security through the production of high performance fuels for the light and heavy duty vehicle fleet using novel biocatalyst strategies and process development for biomass-derived feedstocks. Additional materials related work focuses on biohybrid materials for biotechnological and therapeutic applications.

Relevant Publications:

  • Wu W, Liu F, Davis RW “Engineering Eschericia coli for the production of terpene mixtures enriched in caryophyllene and caryophyllene alcohol as potential aviation fuel compounds” Metab Eng Commun. (2018) 6:13-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.meteno.2018.01.001
  • Liu F, Wu W, Tran-Gyamfi MB, Jaryenneh JD, Zhuang X, Davis RW “Bioconversion of distillers’ grains hydrolysates to advanced biofuels by and Esherichia coli co-culture” Microbial Cell Fact. (2017) 16:192 DOI: 10.1186/s12934-017-0804-8
  • Whitmore LS, Davis RW, McCormick RL, Gladden JM, Simmons BA, George A, Hudson CM “BioCompound ML: A general biofuel property screening tool for biological molecules using Random Forest classifiers” Energy and Fuels (2016) 30: 8410-8418.
  • “Flush-to-Fuel” feat. Interview in AOCS Inform, Jan 2015.
  • Harper JC, Khirpin C, Carnes EC, Ashley CE, Lopez DM, Savage T, Jones HDT, Davis RW, Kaehr BJ, Polsky R, Brozik SM, Brinker CJ “Self-encapsulation of living microorganisms into pre-formed lipid templated mesoporous silica films” ACS Nano (2010) 4; 5539-5550.
  • Davis RW, Arango DC, Jones HDT, Van Benthem MH, Haaland DM, Brozik SM, Sinclair MB “Antimicrobial peptide interactions with silica bead supported bilayers and E. coli: buforin II, magainin II, and arenicin” J. Pept. Sci. (2009) 15; 511-22.
  • Davis RW, Flores A, Barrick TA, Cox JM, Brozik SM, Lopez GP, Brozik JA “Nanoporous microbead supported bilayers: Stability, physical characterization, and incorporation of functional transmembrane proteins” Langmuir (2007) 23(7); 3864-3872.
  • Ortiz TP, Marshall JA, Meyer LA, Davis RW, Macosko JC, Hatch J, Keller DJ, Brozik JA “Stepping statistics of single HIV-1 reverse transcriptase molecules during DNA polymerization” J. Phys. Chem. B (2005) 109(33); 16127-16131.
  • Davis RW, Patrick EL, Meyer LA, Ortiz TP, Marshall JA, Keller DJ, Brozik SM, Brozik JA “Thermodynamic properties of single ion channel formation: Gramicidin” J. Phys. Chem. B (2004) 108(39); 15364-15369.
  • Wu W, Gladden JM, Wu BC, Davis RW “Terpene Synthases for Biofuel Production” US Appl. No. 62/132,093
  • Davis RW, Tran-Gyamfi M, Wu BC, Simmons BA “Bioconversion of High Protein Biomass and Grain Products” US Appl. No. 62/303,282

Awards, Honors, and Memberships

  • 2016 Sandia Employee Recognition Award: Algae Testbed Facility
  • 2011 PDP2 Post-Doctoral Showcase Outstanding Poster Award
  • 2009 R&D100 Award “Hyperspectral Confocal Microscope System”
  • Member of the Algal Biomass Organization
  • Member of the American Chemical Society
  • Member of the Biophysical Society
  • Member of SPIE
  • NSF IGERT: Collaborative Optical Research Education
  • Sandia Excellence in Science Fellowship
  • T. Sean Elicker Interdisciplinary Research Award
  • Hillard L. Smith-Dow Graduate Research Award
  • 2001 University of Tulsa Presidential Scholar