Senior Anny Pan Wins AIChE Poster Award

Anny Pan in the Alper LabSenior Anny Pan recently won first place in the Food, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology division Poster Session at the 2013 AIChE Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Anny’s poster, “Metabolic Engineering of the Yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, for Itaconic Acid Production,” describes metabolic engineering efforts to produce a monomer, itaconic acid, from sugar using Baker’s yeast.

Itaconic acid, a biomolecular monomer, is used in the plastics industry. Biomolecular monomers offer a promising alternative to existing petroleum-based monomers, which use intensive petrochemical processes and produce environmental waste.  The research offers a new approach to making plastics that would free up non-renewable petroleum resources to produce energy.

Her presentation showcased research she’s been conducting for the past two years with Professor Hal Alper to engineer cells to produce substances used in medicines, biofules and other important products.

“It’s been such a privilege to work with the Alper laboratory as an undergraduate,” said Anny. “One of the primary reasons I wanted to become an engineer was to make a lasting, practical difference through applied math and science. Working on these types of research projects while still in school has been such an invaluable experience.”

Anny’s trip to the AIChE Annual Meeting was sponsored by the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering after she wonfirst place in the departmental undergraduate research competition in May 2013. Anny is a co-author on a manuscript related to work presented in her poster that will be published soon. She will be joining ConocoPhillips as a facilities engineer upon graduating in May 2014.

“We’re very proud of Anny,” said Professor Alper. “This is a great way to finish her last year as a researcher in our group. She is a hard worker in our lab and has contributed to a number of projects over the past two years.”


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