(née April Hile)

CurtisLab Tournante

I am wholeheartedly committed to creating synergy, fighting bureaucracy, and vanquishing complacency.

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Tournante (tōrॱ● nánt): the cook girl in the kitchen lab who provides help to all the different cooks researchers rather than having a specific job

  • Bureaucracy Buffer to Dr. Curtis (e.g. reduce paperwork burden, coordinate logistics)

  • Babysitter to Dr. Curtis; he’s a 5-year-old genius trapped in <<current year minus 1962>>-year-old-body.

  • Project Facilitator (Toolkit: organization, nagging, bribery, and extortion---whatever it takes)

  • Technical Writer (e.g. grant-writing assistance, editing)

  • Evangelist Marketer & Recruiter (Toolkit: FinalCut Pro, YouTube, Twitter, networking)

  • Anti-Hoarding Device (Toolkit: recycling, OCD; see evidence)

  • Fun Activity Coordinator/Instigator I plead the fifth on this one.


Short Version: Joined CurtisLab in 2008. Learned Aseptic Lab Technique. Went out-of-mind. Left PSU. Screwed head back on...partially. Returned to PSU in 2010. Lycoriella auripila (mushroom gnat) scavenger hunt. Still crazy. Left PSU again. Cooked way up and down East Coast (and Oklahoma briefly). Dr. Curtis took a gamble on me (still crazy but… in the CurtisLab way). Returned to CurtisLab in Summer 2014. Doing my best to ‘make good’ on his bet.

Less Short Version: In the summer before my freshman year at Penn State, I started as a ‘Lab Rat’ with Sydney Shaw, learning basic aseptic technique from the likes of Dr. Curtis, Dr. Jeff Larsen, and Waqas Khatri in 2008. After one year off from college in 2010, I rejoined the lab in summer part-time as the resident ‘Maggot Girl’, assisting Matt Curtis and Ben Woolston in their quest to track down Lycoriella auripilia (a.k.a. fungus gnats...hence the affectionate nickname) for their research on expression in Agaricus bisporous. Then, in an approximate three year interlude from Penn State, I worked among the lowest ranks of the highest echelon of restaurants in the country all up-and-down the East Coast, but ultimately returned to CurtisLab thanks to Dr. Curtis’ faith and willingness to give me a third chance… you can see the organic sequitur to my ‘evangelist marketing’ role. Since then, I’ve worked on a variety of projects from our ARPA-E work on metabolic engineering of botryococcene-synthesizing pathways into various hosts to our NSF-sponsored research on improving plant propagation of Theobroma cacao through enhanced somatic embryogenesis and scaleable, low-cost bioreactor design. I can’t say enough about the amazing work that this lab does---not only in potentially world-changing research but also in its broader impact of ‘propagating’ exceptional experimentalists, engineers, and just plain good, awesome people.

Long Version: Someday, I’ll write a book (subsequently finally winning my bet with Rob Hendrix).


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2010 First Year Architectural Engineering Design Award (EPIC story...ask me about it!)

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Twitter: ER_Lennox, @CurtisLabTweets

LinkedIn: Erica Lennox