Haley Nicole McKeown

Chemical engineering

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Graduation date: Spring 2023

Additional details: Transfer student

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FURI | Spring 2023

Depolymerization of PET Plastics Using Engineered Bacterium

Accumulation of plastic waste in oceans and landfills increasingly threatens marine, animal, and human life due to fragmentation into microplastics. It is estimated that 359 million tons of plastic is produced annually, half of which accrues in landfills. A substantial portion of this plastic is polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Plasmid constructs have been developed for the expression of PET-hydrolyzing enzymes and the toxicity threshold of terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol, by-products of PET depolymerization, have been determined for the wild-type strain. In situ PET depolymerization was performed using the engineered bacteria, resulting in successful deconstruction into monomeric units.


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Additional projects from this student

Bacteria can be engineered to express enzymes to deconstruct PET plastics and address pollution.


  • FURI
  • Fall 2022