June 26, 2012
The goal of my project in Professor Rintu Banerjee’s laboratory is to improve the efficiency and yield of bioethanol that is derived from plants that do not compete in other industries (for example, we want to avoid using corn or rice so that food prices do not skyrocket). Over the next two months, I will spend time collecting data on both the chemical compositions of a variety of potential substrates and also collecting data on the rates of the reactions that allow us to convert plant matter into bioethanol. Graphs related to the rates of the reactions will allow us to determine the types of inhibition that occur as enzymes work to break plant matter into ethanol. The project aims to find a correlation between the chemical compositions of various substrates and the types of enzymatic inhibition that occur in these substrates. This type of information will help us determine which substrate may be best suited for use on a much larger scale. I will be joined by my fellow Golden Bear, Akshita Dutta, on this project. So far, we have begun to grow the bacteria and fungi that we will isolate our relevant enzymes from, and we have characterized the chemical properties of the stalk of the cotton plant, the first substrate we will collect data from. Over the next few days, we will continue to prepare bacteria for growth, and begin to collect data on the reactions we carry out.