University of California, Riverside

Bourns College of Engineering

Charles Wyman

Faculty Profile

Faculty Profile

Charles Wyman

Ford Motor Company, Chair
Distinguished Professor of Chemical & Environmental Engineering
Charles Wyman

Ph.D. Chemical Engineering
Princeton University, 1971

Bourns Hall A215
University of California, Riverside
Riverside, CA 92521

Telephone: 951-827-6238 or 951-781-5703
Facsimile: 951-827-5696
Personal Website

Former Institution: Queneau Distinguished Professor in Environmental Engineering Design at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College


Professor Wyman has devoted most of his career to leading advancement of technology for conversion of cellulosic biomass to ethanol and other products. In the fall of 2005, he joined the University of California at Riverside as a Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and the Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering with a research focus on pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, and dehydration of cellulosic biomass to reactive intermediates for biological or catalytic conversion into fuels and chemicals. Before joining UCR, he was the Paul E. and Joan H. Queneau Distinguished Professor in Environmental Engineering Design at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. Dr. Wyman recently founded Vertimass LLC that is devoted to commercialization of novel catalytic technology for simple one-step conversion of ethanol to fungible gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel blend stocks. Dr. Wyman is also cofounder and former Chief Development Officer and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for Mascoma Corporation, a startup focused on advanced technology for biomass conversion to ethanol and other products. Dr. Wyman’s diverse career also includes holding major leadership roles focused mostly on biomass conversion over a 17 year period with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), as well as management positions at Badger Engineers and BC International, a biomass startup.  He has contributed over 155 peer-reviewed papers, 25 book chapters, many edited volumes, over 250 presentations many of which were invited, about 25 technical reports, and 21 patents.  He edited a recent book on aqueous pretreatment of cellulosic biomass to which he also contributed several chapters as well as a previous cellulosic ethanol book. Other honors received include Fellow in the American Association for Advancement of Science, Tang Lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, and CD Scott Award for the Annual Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals. In addition to his role as a founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Biotechnology for Biofuels, Wyman is on the editorial board of several other technical journals and the board of directors and advisors for several organizations and institutions.


  • Ph.D. Chemical Engineering 1971 Princeton University
  • M.A. Chemical Engineering 1969 Princeton University
  • MBA Business Administration 1988 University of Denver
  • B.S. Chemical Engineering 1967 University of Massachusetts


  • Fellow, American Association for Advancement of Science, 2006
  • C.D. Scott Award in Biotechnology, 1999
  • Honorary Master of Arts, Dartmouth College, 2004
  • NREL Hubbard Leadership Award, 1992
  • NREL Staff Leadership Award, 1991
  • Beta Gamma Sigma
  • Phi Kappa Phi
  • Sigma Xi
  • Tau Beta Pi
  • Who's Who in Science and Engineering
  • Who's Who in the West
  • Who's Who in the World
  • Who's Who of Emerging Leaders in America

Research Areas

Consistent with virtually all his career, Professor Wyman’s UCR research focuses on conversion of cellulosic biomass to fuels and chemicals to address critical issues in the release of greenhouse gases, sustainable energy production, and strategic and economic vulnerability.  In particular, our research targets aqueous phase processing (APP) of abundant, non-food cellulosic biomass (e.g., energy crops such as poplar hardwood and switchgrass and agricultural residues such as corn stover) into commodity products including ethanol for use as a transportation fuel.  Dr. Wyman has long believed that biomass is the most economical way to store solar energy and that biofuels present the only sustainable option to reduce our petroleum dependence for liquid transportation fuels on a large scale.  Thus, a substantial portion of our research is directed at experimentation and modeling to enhance knowledge of the most expensive and critical unit operations for conversion of cellulosic biomass to ethanol and other products: pretreatment, hydrolysis of cellulose and hemicellulose to sugars, and breakdown of sugars to their dehydration products.  These sugars and their dehydration products that we call fuel precursors can be biologically or catalytically converted into fuels and chemicals. A second element focuses on design of systems for converting biomass into fuels and chemicals with the goal of identifying opportunities to advance technology and substantially reduce costs.  Our former graduate students, post docs, and research professionals have gone on to careers in industry and academia.  The Wyman laboratory is located at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology of the Bourns College of Engineering (CE-CERT), about 2 miles from the main UCR campus.  We are grateful to the Ford Motor Company for funding the Endowed Chair in Environmental Engineering at CE-CERT that greatly enhances our research program.  Our APP Research Team has been supported by a number of major sponsors including: 1) the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Research Center supported by the Biological and Environmental Research Office in the DOE Office of Science; 2) the DOE BioEnergy Technology Office (BETO); 3) the NRICGP Program of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA); 4) USDA through a subcontract from UC Davis; 5) the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD); 6) the US Department of Transportation through the Western Sun Grant Program; 7) the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); 8) the DOE Office of the Biomass Program; 9) DARPA through a subcontract to the University of Massachusetts; 10) DARPA through a subcontract to Logos Technologies; 11) the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) through Dartmouth College; and 12) Mascoma Corporation.


Selected Publications

  • Nguyen TY, Cai CM, Kumar R, Wyman CE. 2015. “Co-solvent Pretreatment (CELF) Reduces Costly Enzyme Requirements for High Sugar and Ethanol Yields from Lignocellulosic Biomass,” ChemSusChem, in press.

  • Zhang T, Kumar R, Tsai Y-D, Elander RT, Wyman CE. 2015. “Xylose Yields and Relationship to Combined Severity for Dilute Acid Post-Hydrolysis of Xylooligomers from Hydrothermal Pretreatment of Corn Stover,” Green Chemistry 17(1): 394-403.

  • Ragauskas AJ, Beckham GT, Biddy MJ, Chandra R, Chen F, Davis MF, Davison BH, Dixon RA, Gilna P, Keller M, Langan P, Naskar AK, Saddler JN, Tschaplinski TJ, Tuskan GA, Wyman CE. 2014. "Lignin Valorization: Improving Lignin Processing in the Biorefinery," Science 344(6185).

  • Cai CM, Nagane N, Kumar R, Wyman CE. 2014. "Coupling Metal Halides With a Green Co-solvent to Produce Furfural and 5-HMF at High Yields Directly from Lignocellulosic Biomass as an Integrated Biofuels Strategy," Green Chemistry 16: 3819-3829
  • Gao X, Kumar R, Singh S. Simmons B, Balan V, Dale B, Wyman CE. 2014. “Comparison of Enzymatic Reactivity of Corn Stover Solids Prepared by Dilute Acid, AFEX, and Ionic Liquid Pretreatments,” Biotechnology for Biofuels 7:71
  • Kumar R, Wyman CE. 2014. “Strong Cellulase Inhibition by Mannan Polysaccharides in Cellulose Conversion to Sugars,” Biotechnology and Bioengineering 111 (7): 1341-1353
  • Brethauer S., Studer MH, Wyman CE. 2014. “Application of a Slurry Feeder to 1 and 3 Stage Continuous Simultaneous Saccharification and Fermentation of Dilute Acid Pretreated Corn Stover,” Bioresource Technology 144: 467-476
  • Li H, Pattathil S, Foston MB, Ding S, Kumar R, Gao X, Mittal A, Yarbrough JM, Himmel ME, Ragauskas AJ, Hahn MG, Wyman CE. 2014. “Agave Proves to Be a Low Recalcitrant Lignocellulosic Feedstock for Biofuels Production on Semi-Arid Lands,” Biotechnology for Biofuels 7:50
  • BondJQ, Upadhye AA, Olcay H, Tompsett G, Jae J, XingR, Alonso DM, Wang D, Zhang T, Kumar R, Foster A, Sen SM, Maravelias CT, Malina R, Barrett SRH, Lobo R, Wyman CE, Dumesic JA, Huber GW. 2014. “Production of Renewable Jet Fuel Range Alkanes and Commodity Chemicals from Integrated Catalytic Processing of Biomass,” Energy and Environmental Science 7: 1500-1523
  • Wyman CE, Editor. 2013. Aqueous Pretreatment of Plant Biomass for Biological and Chemical Conversion to Fuels and Chemicals, Wiley Blackwell, Oxford, UK, 538 pages, invited
  • Wyman CE, Dale BE, Balan V, Elander RT, Holtzapple MT, Sierra-Ramirez R, Ladisch MR, Mosier N, Lee YY, Gupta R, Thomas S, Hames B, Warner R, and Kumar R. 2013. “Comparative Performance of Leading Pretreatment Technologies for Biological Conversion of Corn Stover, Poplar Wood, and Switchgrass to Sugars,” in Aqueous Pretreatment of Plant Biomass for Biological and Chemical Conversion to Fuels and Chemicals, Wyman CE, Ed, Wiley Blackwell, Oxford, UK,pp. 239-238
  • Cai CM, Zhang T, Kumar R, Wyman CE. 2013. “THF Co-Solvent Enhances Hydrocarbon Fuel Precursor Yields from Lignocellulosic Biomass,” Green Chemistry 15: 3140-3145
  • Cai CM, Zhang T, Kumar R, Wyman CE. 2013. “Integrated Furfural Production as a Renewable Fuel and Chemical Platform from Lignocellulosic Biomass,” Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology 89 (1): 2-10
  • Yang B, Wyman CE. 2013. “Lignin Blockers and Uses Thereof,” U.S. Patent 8,580,541, November 12
  • DeMartini JD, Pattathil S, Miller JS, Li H, Hahn MG, Wyman CE. 2013. “Investigating Plant Cell Wall Components that Affect Biomass Recalcitrance in Poplar and Switchgrass,” Energy and Environmental Science 6(3): 898-909
  • Urbanowicz BR, Pena MJ, Ratnaparkhe S, Avci U, Backe J, Steet HF, Foston MB, Li H, O'Neill MA, Ragauskas AJ, Darvill AG, Wyman CE, Gilbert HS, York WS. 2012. "4-O-methylation of Glucuronic Acid in Arabidopsis Glucuronoxylan Is Catalyzed by a Domin of Unknown Function Family 579 Protein,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 109(35): 14253-14258
  • Wyman CE, Lloyd TA. 2012. “Removal of Minerals from Cellulosic Biomass,” U.S. Patent 8,101,024, January 24
  • Studer MH, DeMartini JD, Davis MF, Sykes RW, Davison BH, Keller M, Tuskan GA, Wyman CE. 2011. “Lignin Content in Natural Populus Variants Affects Sugar Release,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 108(15): 6300-6305 (April 12)
  • Hinman ND, Wyman CE. 2011. “Method for Making Silicon-Containing Products,” U.S. Patent 8,048,822, November 1
  • Kumar R, Wyman CE. 2010. “Features Controlling Hydrolysis of Cellulose in Pretreated Biomass,” in Bioalcohol Production, Waldron K, Ed, Woodhead Publishing Ltd, Cambridge, UK, pp 73-121, May, invited
  • Yang B, Wyman CE. 2009. “Dilute Acid and Autohydrolysis Pretreatment,” in Biofuels Methods and Protocols Series, Jonathan Mielenz, Ed, Methods in Molecular Biology: Biofuels, 581, Humana Press, Totowa, NJ, in press.
  • Kumar R. Wyman CE. 2009. “Access of Cellulase to Cellulose and Lignin for Poplar Solids Produced by Leading Pretreatment Technologies," Biotechnology Progress, in press.
  • Kumar R. Wyman CE. 2009. “Cellulase Adsorption and Relationship to Features for Corn Stover Solids Produced by Leading Pretreatments,” Biotechnology and Bioengineering, in press.
  • Mielenz JR, Bardsley JS, Wyman CE. 2008. “Fermentation of Soybean Hulls to Ethanol While Preserving Protein Value,” Bioresource Technology, in press.
  • Yang B, Wyman CE. 2009. “Cellulosic Biorefineries for Production of Ethanol as well as Other Products in California,” California Agriculture Journal, in press.
  • Kumar R. Wyman CE. 2009. “Effect of Xylanase Supplementation of Cellulase on Digestion of Corn Stover Solids Prepared by Leading Pretreatment Technologies,” Bioresource Technology, 100: 4203-4213.
  • Kumar R, Wyman CE. 2009. “Does Change in Accessibility With Conversion Depend on Both the Substrate and Pretreatment Technology?” Bioresource Technology100:4193-4202.
  • Kumar R, Mago G, Balan V, Wyman CE. 2009. “Physical and Chemical Characterizations of Corn Stover and Poplar Solids Resulting from Leading Pretreatment Technologies Bioresource Technology 100(17): 3948-3962.
  • Wyman CE, Dale BE, Elander RT, Holtzapple M, Ladisch MR, Lee YY, Mitchinson C, Saddler JN. 2008. “Comparative Sugar Recovery and Fermentation Data Following Pretreatment of Poplar Wood y Leading Technologies,” Biotechnology Progress 25(2): 333-339.
  • Kumar R, Wyman CE. 2008. “Effects of Cellulase and Xylanase Enzymes on the Deconstruction of Solids from Pretreatment of Poplar by Leading Technologies,” Biotechnology Progress 25(2): 302-314.
  • Kumar R. Wyman CE. 2008. “Effect of Additives on the Digestibility of Corn Stover Solids Following Pretreatment by Leading Technologies,” Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 102(6): 1544-1557.
  • Kumar K, Wyman CE. 2008. “Effect of Enzyme Supplementation at Moderate Cellulase Loadings on Initial Glucose and Xylose Release from Corn Stover Solids Pretreated by Leading Technologies,” Biotechnology and Bioengineering 102(2): 457-467.
  • Shao X, Lynd L, Wyman C, Bakker A. 2008. “Kinetic Modeling of Cellulosic Biomass to Ethanol via Simultaneous Saccharification and Fermentation: Part I. Accommodation of Intermittent Feeding and Analysis of Staged Reactors,” Biotechnology and Bioengineering 102: 59-65.
  • Shao X, Lynd L, Wyman C. 2008. “Kinetic Modeling of Cellulosic Biomass to Ethanol via Simultaneous Saccharification and Fermentation: Part II. Experimental Validation Using Waste Paper Sludge and Anticipation of CFD Analysis,” Biotechnology and Bioengineering 102: 66-72.
  • Yang B, Wyman CE. 2008. “Characterization of the Degree of Polymerization of Xylooligomers Produced by Flowthrough Hydrolysis of Pure Xylan and Corn Stover with Water,” Bioresource Technology 99: 5756-5762.
  • Wyman CE. 2008. “Cellulosic Ethanol: A Unique Sustainable Transportation Fuel,” MRS Bulletin 33(4) 381–383, April, invited.
  • Kumar R, Wyman CE. 2008. “An Improved Method to Directly Estimate Cellulase Adsorption on Biomass Solids,” Enzyme and Microbial Technology, 42: 426–433.
  • Hahn-Hägerdah1 B, Himmel ME, Somerville C, Wyman C. 2008. “Welcome to Biotechnology for Biofuels,” Biotechnology for Biofuels 1: 1-4,
  • Lynd LR, Laser MS, Bransby D, Dale BE, Davison B, Hamilton R, Himmel M, Keller M, McMillan JD, Sheehan J, Wyman CE. 2008.“How Biotech Can Transform Biofuels,” Nature Biotechnology, 26(2): 169-172, February.
  • Yang B, Wyman, CE. 2008. “Pretreatment: The Key to Unlocking Low Cost Cellulosic Ethanol,” Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biorefining 2(1): 26-40, invited.
  • Kumar R, Wyman CE. 2008. “The Impact of Dilute Sulfuric Acid on the Selectivity of Xylooligomer Depolymerization to Monomers,” Carbohydrate Research 343(2): 290-300.
  • Gray MC, Converse AO, Wyman CE. 2007. “Solubilities of Oligomer Mixtures Produced by Hydrolysis of Xylans and Corn Stover in Water at 180oC,” Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research 46: 2383-2391.
  • Wyman CE. 2007. “What Is (And Is Not) Vital to Advancing Cellulosic Ethanol,” Trends in Biotechnology 25(4): 153-157, invited.
  • Yang B, Willies DM, Wyman CE. 2006. “Changes in the Enzymatic Hydrolysis Rate of Avicel Cellulose with Conversion,” Biotechnology and Bioengineering 94(6): 1122-1128.
  • Liu C, Wyman CE. 2006. “The Enhancement of Xylose Monomer and Xylotriose Degradation by Inorganic Salts in Aqueous Solutions at 180oC,” Carbohydrate Research 341: 2550-2556.
  • Yang B, Wyman CE. 2006. “BSA Treatment to Enhance Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Cellulose in Lignin Containing Substrates,” Biotechnology and Bioengineering 94(4): 611-617.
  • Wyman CE. 2004. “Ethanol Fuel,” Chapter in New Edition of Encyclopedia of Energy, Cutler Cleveland, Ed., Elsevier, St. Louis, MO, Volume 2, pp. 541-555, March, invited.

More Information 

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University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Bourns College of Engineering
446 Winston Chung Hall

Tel: (951) 827-5190
Fax: (951) 827-3188