This site provides periodic updates of lab activities: publication of papers, awards, graduations etc.
This Thanksgiving (and Turkish Teacher's Day!) welcomed Mustafa Erbakan's (PhD '14) and his wife, Jackie's son, Ali Aydin "Aidan" Erbakan! Now the only question is... who has more hair?! (I think we all know the answer.) ;)
...plants?!? (Catch the reference?)
Dr. Curtis attends DARPA's Biotechnologies Office Insect Allies Proposers Day in Washington D.C. on November 18th, 2016. The goal of Insect Allies is to develop a vector-mediated mofification technology for mature plants to rapidly counter environmental and biological threats to crops. Beyond Dr. Curtis' long history in applied plant biotechnology and relevant consulting (e.g. consulting/collaborations for/with Monsanto, Agracetus, Weyerhauser, DOW Agrosciences, Nunhems), the project nicely ties into a number of CurtisLab projects on transient expression as well as some (yet) unpublished preliminary undergraduate research by Ben Woolston (now finishing PhD at MIT) and Amalie Tuerk (PhD '16, University of Delaware).
Surprisingly, the conference revealed a BAA do in January... one guess how Dr. Curtis will be spending his holiday?
At the 2016 National AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) Conference held in San Francisco, both CurtisLab undergraduate student posters placed in the National poster competition! Ryan Jones presented on behalf of himself and Bennett McKinley, an NCSU student who collaborated in summer research through Penn' State's NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), Integration of Biology & Materials in Chemical Engineering program. Their poster entitled Expression and Purification of Plant Embryogenic Proteins, which describes CurtisLab's NSF BREAD project, took first place. Meanwhile, Lucas Nugent & Ben Geveke took 3rd place for their poster "Constructing and Testing a Photobioreactor Designed for Precise Characterizations of Growth of Microalgae for Biofuel Applications", which also represented a collaboration with Dr. Ramya, a visiting scholar supported by B-ACER (Bioenergy-Award for Cutting Edge Research) Fellowship.
Penn State AIChE's Anirudh Nambiar also took 2nd place in the undergraduate paper competition and earned a top honor: bein one of 15 students selected nationally to receive a $1,000 Donald & Mildred Topp Scholarship!
Penn State Engineering e-Newsletter showcases CurtisLab NSF BREAD/Gates Foundation African Food Security project here.
After a stint at Cargill following graduation with her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from South Dakota School of Mines, Sarah Jean Johnson joined Penn State's PhD program and subsequently CurtisLab this fall to work on a collaborative project with Penn State Professor Emeritus Jack McWhirter, who also generously donated $20+M to support the Chemical Engineering Department's Graduate Program, and his company, Mixing & Mass Transfer Technologies (M2T Tech). The project will apply Chemical Engineering principles to wastewater treatment, where her focus will be on pilot-scale demonstration of a novel sludge pasteurization process scheme that is more economical and sustainable, particularly for small to mid-size wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs).
Penn State hosts a series of conferences with free (or minimal) enrollment for undergraduate research participants including two in which CurtisLab has participated in recent months: Penn State Energy Days 2016 and Research Penn State 2016--Materials Day Reinvented.
Penn State's new initiative to become "The Energy University" leverages its
long history at the epicenter of energy (e.g. coal mining, Marcellus shale, Petroleum Research Laboratory) to pave the way forward with advances in alternative fuels and sustainability for greater energy security. To that end, Penn State Institute for the Energy & Environment (PSIEE) hosted its first first annual Penn State Energy Days conference on May 19th & 20th, 2016, where Krishnan Sreenivas presented his poster, "Phyco-Remediation of Heavy Metal Contaminant from Industrial Effluents using Genetically-Enhanced Microalgae" (see below). The conference provided tours of numerous Penn State facilities, hosted a broad expanse of research disciplines (e.g. social sciences, agriculture, engineering), and attracted a high ratio of industrial partners to promote industry-university collaborations to tackle current global energy security problems. Penn State Energy Days 2017 will be hosted on May 22nd & 23rd at Innovation Park.
Materials Day reinvented itself to a broader scope as Research Penn State 2016 this October 5th & 6th. Attracting industrial partners from all over the world, this Research Day conference also introduced guests to the following research institutes, which boast facilities available for external use:
At the conference's poster session, Erica Lennox represented Dr. Curtis in his absence, highlighting his 28 years of research in bioreactor design in her poster entitled "₵heap = $mart (Not Disposable)", culminating in CurtisLab's latest bioreactor: a low-cost Hydrostatically-Driven Temporary Immersion Bioreactor (Hy-TIB) for enhanced plant propagation of African orphan crops toward food and economic security in Africa.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to consult on its Metabolic and Spatial Interactions in Communities (MOSAIC) program. Dr. Curtis brings his unique and applied perspective to PNNL, which has been at the frontier of fundamental science and engineering for decades. Its adjacent user facility, Environmental and Molecular Sciences Laboratory, boasts absolutely state-of-the-art equipment for ground-breaking research.
His lab at Penn State will continue its research with remote/ bicoastal supervision and surely provide synergistic opportunities for research.
On September 27th, 2016, Tina Lai, a Plant Biology Masters student, defended her thesis entitled "Testing the Effect of Phytocyannin-Like-1 Protein Domain in the Theobroma cacao tissue culture somatic embryogenesis system" to committee members Dr. Claude DePamphilis & Tim McNellis. Her work shows promise in widespread plant biotechnology and agricultural applications.
Dr. Ramya, Professor of Genetic Engineering at SRM University (India), receives B-ACER (Bioenergy-Awards for Cutting Edge Research) Fellowship to return to CurtisLab as a visiting scholar. Previously, she collaborated on work in cellulosic biofuels with Trevor Zuroff (PhD '14) resulting in numerous co-authored publications including Physiology, genomic, and pathway engineering of an ethanol-tolerant strain of Clostridium phytofermentans. Based on more recent research on metagenomics and algal bioremediation, algae biofuels will be the focus of an equally fruitful 6-month (June-December) collaboration.
Almost overlapping, her student, Krishnan Sreenivas, departed after a 6-month stint in CurtisLab that finished off his senior year.
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