Dr Leonardo Rios Solis

Associate Professor of Synthetic Bioprocessing


Dr. Leonardo Rios is a distinguished leader in the fields of synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, and bioprocessing. A dedicated academic and entrepreneur, he currently serves as an Associate Professor leading his laboratory in UCL Biochemical Engineering, focusing on pioneering research at the intersection of biochemical engineering and synthetic biology.

Education and Early Career

Dr. Rios obtained his Chemical Engineering MEng and Biotechnology MSc from the esteemed National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the Mexican Institute of Petroleum. Building on this solid foundation, he pursued a Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering at University College London (UCL). His groundbreaking doctoral work concentrated on the use of microscale automated tools for the design, modeling, and optimization of de novo pathways. He specialized in enzyme systems including transaminases, transketolases, and monoamine oxidases.

Academic Achievements

Following his Ph.D., Dr. Rios was awarded a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California Berkeley. Here, he expanded his expertise in microbial synthetic biology at the Keasling Lab at the Joint BioEnergy Institute. His impactful research led him to a lectureship in 2017 at the Engineering School of the University of Edinburgh. Building upon his successes, he was promoted to Associate Professor at Newcastle University in 2022 before making a high-profile move to his current position at UCL Biochemical Engineering in 2023.

Research Focus

Dr. Rios’s research group stands at the vanguard of cellular engineering, specializing in both microbial and, more recently, mammalian cell factories for the synthesis of high-value biofuels, biomaterials, alternative foods, fragrances, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals among others. The team is also breaking new ground in bioprocess technology by innovating advanced continuous-flow bioreactors engineered to host these cellular factories.

Leveraging Dr. Rios’s established expertise in microscale bioreactors, systems biology, continuous-flow systems, and open-source automation tools, the group has expedited the design, construction, and characterization of microbial cell factories—always with an eye toward industrial-scale applicability.

Currently, Dr. Rios is pioneering the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into his research methodology. His focus is on employing AI algorithms to guide the precision design of microbial cell factories, while also advancing smart bioreactors equipped with self-optimization features and AI-enhanced automation platforms.

His research endeavors have also culminated in the creation of innovative synthetic biology toolkits and ground-breaking low-cost diagnostic tools based on CRISPR technology.

Entrepreneurial Ventures and Social Impact

Further showcasing his entrepreneurial spirit, Dr. Rios is also the co-founder of Marizca LTD and Logikopt SA de CV.

Academic Qualifications

  • Research Fellow in Synthetic Biology, University of California Berkeley, Joint Bioenergy Institute, California, USA
  • Postdoc in Microscale Automated Bioprocesses, University College London, Biochemical Engineering, London, UK
  • PhD Biochemical Engineering, University College London, Biochemical Engineering, London, UK, Thesis title: Microscale evaluation of de novo engineered whole-cell biocatalysts Supervisors: Prof. G. J. Lye, Prof. and Dr F. Baganz
  • MSc Petroleum Biotechnology, National Mexican Institute of Petroleum, Department of Biotechnology, Mexico
  • BEng Chemical Engineering, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Faculty of Chemistry, Mexico

Research Interests

  • Microbial and mammalian synthetic biology
  • De novo pathways for the production of high-value natural products
  • Metabolic Engineering
  • Pathway modelling, Hybrid Modelling, Machine Learning
  • Bioreactor design, scale-up, scale down, fermentation and downstream process
  • AI enhanced Automated microscale bioreactors
  • Enzyme production and purification
  • Continuous flow bioreactors
  • Marine Biotechnology and Aquaculture
  • Biologics production
  • Synthetic Biology Diagnostics
  • Cellular Agriculture

Awards and Honors

  • (2016) UC Berkeley Monarch Award for best postdoctoral fellowship (2500 $ award)
  • (2008) Award of CONACYT scholarship, PhD at UCL, UK
  • (2008)Award from Mexican Council scholarship for best research projects, PhD at UCL, UK
  • (2010) Award for best poster. IChemE Bioprocessing Meeting, Cambridge, UK, 13-14 April 2010.
  • (2009) Award of Institute of Education Scholarship for inspiring Teachers
  • (2005) Award of CONACYT scholarship, Msc, IMP, Mexico
  • (2005)Award of IMP scholarship for academic excellence, Msc, IMP, Mexico
  • (2005) Award for best social service research project, Bsc Chemical Engineering, UNAM, Mexico
  • (2002, 2003 and 2004) Awards for academic excellence top 3 best students, Bsc Chemical Engineering, UNAM, Mexico

Professional Qualifications, Affiliations and Memberships

  • The Biochemical Society (UK)
  • Biochemical Engineering Research Group (BESRG), UK
  • Institution of Chemical Engineering (ICheme), UK
  • New York Academy of Science, USA
  • SynthSys (Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology), UK
  • Mexican Society of Biochemistry (SMB), Mexico
  • Mexican Society of Synthetic Biology, Mexico
  • The Bio-Automation Network (UK)