Our team

Lauren McKee, Docent & Group leader

I came to KTH as a fresh PhD graduate in 2011, and gained my first independent funding in 2017. I am group leader for this team focussed on the biosynthesis and biodegradation of cell wall components in (mostly) plants. I am passionate about sustainability and try to make sure it is integrated into all of the research and the teaching/supervision that we do at KTH. I spend much of my free time reading fiction, and have another webpage that I use to collect my non-academic writing. In the working-from-home periods of Pandemic Year 1, I used the free time I gained from not having to commute to learn some crafty skills, so when I’m not at lab I am often at home doing crochet or cross-stitch.

Ioanna Sapouna, PhD student

I come from Athens, Greece and have lived in Stockholm since 2016. I studied Chemistry at the University of Ioannina in western Greece and came to KTH for an MSc degree. Currently, I am in the third year of my PhD, studying fundamental aspects of native lignin polymerisation, structure, and interactions with cell wall components. The complexity of the cell wall, and the nature of lignin itself, makes it challenging to study lignin without altering it. This is why I am using mild conditions and green solvents to extract lignin from wood. In parallel, I’m developing in vivo and in vitro techniques to monitor lignin polymerisation and lignin-carbohydrate complex formation. When I am not in the lab, I enjoy relaxing walks in nature. I also like reading, playing board games, and taking up creative craft projects.

Mengshu Hao, Post-doctoral scientist

I am an enzyme biochemist, molecular biologist, and plant biologist with a lot of passion and energy for research! I did my PhD in Lund, Sweden, and moved to Stockholm to join this group in 2020. In our group, I am focussing on developing a new kind of sustainable hydrogel made from natural biopolymers. Currently, I am discovering and designing new proteins I can use for hydrogel formation, and I am characterising these in detail to understand how to control hydrogel properties. I am also interested in developing different bio-functional hydrogels with medical, industrial, or food applications. I love working in the lab, but when I am not here you will find me taking care of my pet rabbits!

He Li, Post-doctoral scientist

I am a multidisciplinary scientist specialising in Biotechnology, Molecular Biology, and Analytical Chemistry, with a solid theoretical background and extensive experimental skills. After studying and working in Finland, I moved to Stockholm with my family in early 2021. My current research is focussing on designing and engineering new thermostable enzymes with enhanced hydrolytic capabilities to degrade complex biomass. I characterise novel enzymes and engineer enzymes with desirable biomass-degrading capabilities, as well as designing enzyme cocktails that maximise hydrolytic efficiency. This work will lead to a greener and economically more feasible route to degrade complex biomass. These newly discovered and engineered enzymes will be applied in the process of producing biofuels.


Alma Kvammen was a research engineer in our group from October 2021 to August 2022. She joined us after completing a Biotechnology Master’s degree at KTH. Upon leaving us, Alma returned to her home town of Tromsø, Norway, to work as a research scientist at ArcticZymes Technologies, to develop enzyme technologies in support of life sciences R & D.

Thomas Baumgarten was a post-doc 2018-2020, working with Lauren on a WWSC-funded biomaterials project. After leaving KTH, he went to work as a Researcher at the biotech startup company EnginZyme in Stockholm, and in 2021 he founded his own company called Reselo, which will specialise in new materials development.

Master’s students who completed their final degree projects with our group have gone on to work for companies in the glycoscience, food science, and biocatalysis sectors, including EnginZyme, Ebba Biotech, and Havredals. Others have started PhDs in Europe and the USA.