A biofuels researcher at UC Davis has been selected for a national career award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The early career development award was given to Tina Jeoh, a UC Davis assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering. The award is worth $407,573 over five years and will support Jeoh’s studies of how microbial enzymes break down plant cell walls to release sugars for conversion to biofuels and other products. Jeoh is hoping to help the commercial development of next generation biofuels by discovering how cellulase enzymes break down cellulose.
“In nature, microorganisms produce many different enzymes that cooperatively release the sugars,” Jeoh said. “Our goal is to identify the mechanisms of these enzymes, and to learn to consistently reproduce their natural actions in a controlled setting on an industrial scale.”
Jeoh’s team is developing molecular-scale atomic force microscopy methods to analyze cellulase-cellulose reactions as they occur. The researchers will incorporate their findings into models that will help predict reaction outcomes in commercial settings.
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