Istvan Molnar

Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources & the Environment


My main research interest is the biosynthetic engineering of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi and algae) for pharmaceutical, agricultural, chemical industrial and bioenergy applications and the biosynthesis of small molecule natural products.

The Natural Products Center engages in research to discover anti-cancer, anti-infective, and anti-inflammatory drugs using Sonoran Desert plants and their associated microorganisms. It also investigates natural product biosynthesis in selected microorganisms, looks at commercializing natural fibers, such as Hesperaloe for paper products, and works to develop alternate agriculture systems.

Many of the center’s projects also aim to improve the longevity of agriculture in Arizona, the Southwest, and semiarid lands throughout the world and to understand the complexity of arid land ecosystems.

The center uses a variety of cutting-edge equipment and technology for separating natural products, examining and clarifying the products, and conducting biological and microbiological work. This includes chromatography and spectroscopic equipment, flow cytometers, benchtop fermenters, and more.  


Chair of Arid Lands Resource Sciences GIDP & Applied Biosciences GIDP; Courses include: MIC, PLP, ARL 452/552: Antibiotics, a biological perspective; ARL 565: Physical aspects of arid lands; ARL 595A: Current research


  • PhD, 1993, Hiroshima University, Higashi-Hiroshima, Japan
  • MSc, 1986, ELTE University of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary