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Kehau Hagiwara Usui

NIST NRC Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Hagiwara is a 2018 awardee of the NIST National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Associateship. Presently, she is working to develop a microbial community model amenable to both mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy approaches to facilitate in vitro microbiome metabolomics analyses. Dr. Hagiwara’s breadth of experiences have lead to overarching research interests in utillizing analytical chemistry techniques to investigate primary and secondary metabolism in biological systems, specifically centered on microbial matrices.

Dr. Hagiwara has foundational backgrounds in both marine microbiology and natural products chemistry, which have combined into a unique approach to addressing challenges within the microbial metrology field. Her microbiology expertise includes isolating microalgal, bacterial, and fungal strains from environmental sources, applying molecular techniques to identify purified cultures or to investigate biosynthetic genes, and investigating secondary metabolite properties with bioactivity and quorum-sensing assays. She also has extensive experience concerning chromatographic separations of complex mixtures via HPLC or GC, in line with mass spectrometry or NMR for structure elucidation. These experiences facilitated a transition to the microbial metabolomics field where she has investigated the metabolomic stress responses of hyperthermophilic, anaerobic archaea and thermophilic, aerobic bacteria from marine environments in bioprospecting efforts.

Dr. Hagiwara segued to her current work at NIST where she is addressing biochemical measurement challenges in microbial systems through metabolomics analyses. There has been recent widespread acknowledgement of the microbiome’s role in all aspects of modern day-to-day life, from human health to streamlining microbe-influenced industrial processes. The broad impact and complexity of microbial biochemical interactions necessitate an interdisciplinary approach, mainly microbiology and analytical chemistry, to harmonizing microbial metabolism research.

Microbial metabolomics provides a measure of the expressed chemical dynamics within a microbial system. To date, the majority of the studies concerning microbial metabolomics have focused on direct metabolomic measurements concerning single-strain microbial cultures or indirect and implied metabolomic measurements of the microbiome based on host-derived biological samples (i.e. feces or urine). There are currently no commercially-available microbial materials to facilitate interlaboratory comparisons or monitor data quality across time, instruments, or researchers for metabolomics analyses.

Dr. Hagiwara is uniquely positioned to straddle the intersection of microbiology and metabolomics research communities and facilitate conversations for best practices to produce high quality microbial metabolomics data.

Society Memberships

  • American Chemical Society
  • American Society of Microbiology
  • Metabolomics Society
  • Metabolomics Association of North America
  • American Society of Pharmacognosy


  • National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associateship, 2018
  • Lynn Brady Student Travel Grant, American Society of Pharmacognosy Annual Meeting, 2014
  • National Science Foundation Student Travel Grant, Phytochemical Society of North America Annual Meeting, 2011


Created March 26, 2019, Updated December 13, 2019