Danielle Tullman-Ercek, PhD

Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering

Member, Chemistry of Life Processes Institute
Director, Master of Science in Biotechnology Program

After earning her B.S. degree in chemical engineering, Tullman-Ercek began her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin under advisor George Georgiou. Her dissertation focused on the pathway bacteria use to transport folded proteins across membranes, and how this pathway may be used in protein engineering applications. After earning her Ph.D. in 2006, Tullman-Ercek began her post-doctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco in the laboratory of Chris Voigt. Her primary project in the Voigt lab was the study of spider silk production and secretion in Salmonella. She also immersed herself in the challenges and potential of the field of synthetic biology. She continued her postdoctoral studies at the Joint BioEnergy Institute, working to improve enzymes that break down biomass for more efficient and economic biofuel production processes. Tullman-Ercek joined the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UC Berkeley in 2009. Inspired by her previous work, her research group focuses on engineering multi-component systems in biology – such as protein and small molecule secretion machinery and bacterial microcompartments – using tools and techniques from protein engineering and synthetic biology.

Tullman-Ercek’s group is interested in controlling the movement of materials across biological membranes, with a goal of enabling and enhancing the production of pharmaceuticals, biofuels, and materials in microbes. Manipulating the transport of electrons, small molecules, and even signals across these cellular boundaries is a vital component of most synthetic biology applications, and her team is developing the tools and methods to engineer membrane proteins and other protein superstructures to meet this grand challenge.


Glasgow J.E., Asensio M.A., Jakobson C.M., Francis M.B., Tullman-Ercek D. (2015) “The influence of electrostatics on small molecule flux through a protein nanoreactor.” ACS Synth. Biol. 4(9):1011-9. 

Jakobson C.M., Kim E.Y., Slininger M.F., Chien A., Tullman-Ercek D. (2015) “Localization of proteins to the 1,2-propanediol utilization microcompartment by non-native signal sequences is mediated by a common hydrophobic motif.” J. Biol. Chem. 290(40):24519-33.

Azam A., Metcalf K.J., Li C., Tullman-Ercek D. (2016) “Type III secretion as a generalizable strategy for the development of peptide-based biomaterials.” Biotechnol. Bioeng. 113(11):2313-20.

Boyarskiy S., Davis López S., Kong N., Tullman-Ercek D. (2016) “Transcriptional feedback regulation of efflux protein expression for increased tolerance to and production of n-butanol.” Metab. Eng. 33: 130-7.

Jakobson C.M., Chen Y., Slininger M.F., Valdivia E., Kim E.Y., Tullman-Ercek D. (2016) “Tuning the catalytic activity of subcellular nanoreactors.” J. Mol. Biol.28(15):2989-96.

Asensio M., Morella N., Jakobson C.M., Hartman E.C., Glasgow J.E., Sankaran B., Zwart P.H., Tullman-Ercek D. (2016) “A single-point mutation in the capsid protein alters the assembled geometry of the bacteriophage MS2 capsid.” Nano Letters 16(9):5944-50.

Glasgow A.A., Wong H.T., Tullman-Ercek D. (2017) “A secretion-amplification role for Salmonella enterica translocon protein SipD.” ACS Synth. Biol. 6(6):1006-1015.

Slininger Lee M.F., Jakobson C.M., Tullman-Ercek D. (2017) “Evidence for Improved Encapsulated Pathway Behavior in a Bacterial Microcompartment through Shell Protein Engineering.” ACS Synth. Biol. 6(10):1880-1891.

Select Honors and Awards