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The Levinson Emerging Scholars Program

Lauren Palmer - Biology & Microbiology

Lauren Palmer picture Lauren came to the UW for her undergraduate degree specifically because of the research opportunities offered for undergraduates. She has the unique experience of having been involved in research since the summer before her freshman year, working on two projects that explore cellular metabolism. She is very interested in a future that combines academic and biotechnology research and hopes to participate in academic-industry collaborations. Her mentor describes how Lauren has become an important member of her research group: “Not only has she significantly advanced her project, but she has also been instrumental in setting up and trouble shooting protocols for the lab…Her future work in uncovering the link between methanol metabolism and glutathione homeostasis is very important for our understanding of methylotrophy and the engineering of this organism for biotechnological and industrial use.” She adds: “She is one of the top students I have mentored and I have no doubt that she will have an outstanding scientific career and make a lasting contribution to science.” Lauren’s award will provide scholarship support, books, and conference travel.

Mentor: Professor Mary Lidstrom, Department of Chemical Engineering & Microbiology and Vice Provost for Research

Project Title: Metabolic Studies in Methylobacterium extorquens AM1

Abstract: Methylotrophs, or organisms that can grow on single-carbon compounds, have great potential for bio-industrial applications. Methylotrophs can be bioengineered to produce value-added products from methanol, a cheap and environmentally benign carbon source. Due to the interrelated nature of metabolism, successful engineering requires deep understanding of the organisms’ metabolism. We seek to further understanding of methylotrophy through study of the model methylotroph, Methylobacterium extorquens AM1. Building on the body of knowledge of methylotrophic pathways, my work seeks to elucidate links between methylotrophy and other metabolic networks. Previous results suggest strong links between methylotrophy and iron metabolism. My work will explore the differences in iron metabolism during methylotrophic and non-methylotrophic growth in AM1, including assaying iron requirements and characterizing iron-related proteins and mutants. This work will aid in the understanding of methylotrophic growth and general iron metabolism.