Joel Kaar in square-patterned shirt with glasses against blue background
Chemical and Biological Engineering

Office: JSCBB C226
Mailbox: 596 UCB


Ph.D. (Chemical Engineering), University of Pittsburgh, 2007
B.S. (Chemical Engineering), University of Pittsburgh, 2001


  • University of Colorado Provost’s Faculty Achievement Award, 2016
  • University of Colorado Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, 2016
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2015
  • University of Colorado College of Engineering Dean’s Faculty Fellowship, 2013
  • U.S. Army Research Office Young Investigator Award, 2012
  • UK Medical Research Council Career Development Fellowship, 2008

Selected Publications

  • Chado GR, Holland EN, Tice AK, Stoykovich MP, Kaar JL. Exploiting the benefits of homogeneous and heterogeneous biocatalysis: tuning the molecular interaction of enzymes with solvents via polimer modification. ACS Catalysis 2018;8(12):11679-11588.
  • Faulón Marruecos D, Schwartz DK, Kaar JL. Impact of surface interactions on protein conformation. Curr Opin Colloid Interface Sci 2018;38:45-55.
  • Kienle DF, Falatach RM, Kaar JL, Schwartz DK. Correlating structural and functional heterogeneity of immobilized enzymes. ACS Nano 2018;12(8):8091-8103.
  • Chado GR, Holland EN, Tice AK, Stoykovich MP, Kaar JL. Modification of lipase with the poly(4-acryloylmorpholine) for enhanced solubility and transesterification activity in anhydrous ionic liquids. Biomacromolecules 2018;19(4):1324-1332.
  • Chaparro Sosa AF, Kienle DF, Falatach RM, Flanagan J, Kaar JL, Schwartz DK. Stabilization of immobilized enzymes via the chaperone-like activity of mixed lipid bilayers. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 2018;10(23):19504-19513.
  • Summers SR, Sprenger KG, Pfaendtner J, Marchant J, Summers MF, Kaar JL. Mechanism of competitive inhibition and destabilization of Acidothermus Cellulolyticus Endoglucanase 1 by ionic liquids. J Phys Chem B 2017; 121(48):10793-10803.
  • Kastantin M, Faulón Marruecos D, Grover N, McLoughlin SY, Schwartz DK, Kaar JL. Connecting protein conformation and dynamics with ligand-receptor binding using three-color FRET tracking. J Am Chem Soc 2017; 139(29):9937- 9948.

Research Interests

The research in the Kaar lab is broadly focused at the intersection of protein engineering, biocatalysis, and materials. We are specifically interested in how the convergence of these areas can lead to new opportunities to discover enzymes with improved properties and impart materials with biological function. Such opportunities have enabled the repertoire of synthetically important reactions that can be catalyzed by enzymes to be significantly expanded. Additionally, through understanding and controlling the interaction of proteins with materials, it is feasible to design materials that sense and destroy toxic chemicals (e.g., chemical warfare agents), resist fouling and self-repair, improve tissue engineering, and meld seamlessly with the body. A major element of this research, which is highly multi-disciplinary, is to address fundamental questions about the function and fate of proteins in non-native and harsh conditions. These questions are addressed at the molecular level by using an amalgamation of biochemical, biophysical, and structural determination techniques.