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Willem Vermaas

Willem Vermaas

Foundation Professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
PO Box 874501
Tempe, AZ 85287-4501


  • Senior Sustainability Scientist, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation
  • Foundation Professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Dr. Wim Vermaas' research program focuses on the molecular biology and cell physiology of prokaryotic photosynthetic systems, utilizing functional genomics and cutting-edge technologies and approaches. The Vermaas team is currently involved in a transformative research effort to develop strains of Synechocystis that can produce and secrete products for use as renewable raw materials for the biofuels and bioplastics industries. Examples of research activities in the Vermaas lab include: 1) studying the interaction between chlorophyll synthesis and assembly of chlorophyll-binding complexes, 2) finding "new" genes that affect and regulate photosynthesis and respiration or that are involved in biosynthesis of unique carotenoids, 3) elucidating unusual aspects of the "metabolome" of this cyanobacterium, 4) determining how thylakoid membranes are synthesized, and 5) developing new molecular-biological tools to study protein structure and function. The ultimate goal of all these various research activities is to use the insights to better understand the molecular physiology of the cyanobacterial cell. This research has many potential implications, ranging from metabolic engineering opportunities to new evolutionary insights. It is an exciting field of research, providing students with excellent interdisciplinary training opportunities in the molecular life sciences.

Dr. Vermaas is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Associate Editor for the journal Plant Molecular Biology. In addition he has coordinated the U.S. Department of Energy supported Genomes-to-Life Project on the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and has served as director of ASU's Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis at ASU. In 2007, he received the Innovator of the Year Award, Arizona Technology Enterprises and ASU; and, in 2010, he received an ASU Faculty Achievement Award: Defining Edge Research in Natural Sciences and Math.


  • DSc, cum laude, Agricultural University, Wageningen, Netherlands, 1984
  • Ingenieurs, Biology, cum laude, Agricultural University, Wageningen, Netherlands, 1982
  • Kandidaats, Biology, cum laude, Agricultural University, Wageningen, Netherlands, 1980


External Links

Journal Articles


Ikeuchi, M., B. Eggers, G. Shen, A. Webber, J. Yu, A. Hirano, Y. Inoue and W. Vermaas. 1991. Cloning of the psbK gene from Synechocystis sp., PCC 6803 and characterization of photosystem II in mutants lacking PSII-K. Journal of Biological Chemistry 266(17):11,111-11,115. (link )