Inventor of the Year 2023
Michael Hahn’s research on plant cell walls (PCWs) led to a development of a molecular toolkit for PCW characterization that addresses a critical need in PCW research. Hahn, a professor of plant biology, has used this toolkit to develop a comprehensive experimental approach that allows for simultaneous identification and quantification of carbohydrates present in PCWs—critical information for understanding cell wall biology and optimizing PCW utilization. Hahn’s innovative, monoclonal antibody-based approach is faster and more efficient than prior methods requiring complex, time-consuming chemical analyses. Advanced knowledge of PCW composition enables the design of sustainable and economically viable processes appropriate for use with a specific biomass. Hahn’s invention has been applied to numerous plants, including switchgrass, sugar beet, Arabidopsis, corn blueberries, sugarcane, silvergrass, agave, cotton and multiple hardwood trees. He has developed and licensed over 100 monoclonal antibodies, including to companies specializing in reagents for plant, algal and bioenergy research. More than 30 commercial products have been derived from his research.