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Young scientist places first in national research competition

Fungal genetics work at PNNL earns recent intern high marks

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November 30, 2009 Share This!

  • Kristen Meyer placed first in the life sciences division of the 2009 Science and Energy Research Challenge Poster Competition

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RICHLAND, Wash. — A recent intern at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory earned top honors at a national undergraduate competition for research that could help scientists use fungi to make chemicals used in plastic and fuels.

Kristen Meyer, of West Richland, Wash., placed first in the life sciences division of the 2009 Science and Energy Research Challenge Poster Competition, which took place Nov. 8-9 in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The award included a $3,000 scholarship.

Now a junior studying chemistry at Washington State University Tri-Cities, Meyer spent this summer working with PNNL molecular biologist Kenneth Bruno. She developed a new, time-saving method to test specific genes in a black mold commonly found in soil, Aspergillus niger. The work could provide a way to use mold to make plastics and other chemicals from broken-down plant matter, called biomass.

"Kristen is very detail-oriented," Bruno said. "Sometimes she's even able to correct me. You can trust that her research will be precise."

She was one of five recent PNNL interns who participated in the competition. Another, Mike Larche, placed third in the energy division. Larche, of Pasco, Wash., is studying physics at Eastern Washington University.

Washington State University's full press release on Meyer's award can be found online.


Tags: Fundamental Science, Awards and Honors, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

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