Sarah Thorwall

Wheeldon lab: As a chemical engineer, my synthetic biology interests are engineering microbes as “reactors” to produce value-added chemicals. Billions of dollars annually are spent on agricultural chemicals, which can be used to promote plant growth or prevent devastating plant diseases. Additionally, plants are a wealth of interesting secondary metabolites but are not optimal industrial production hosts because of their low titers, slow growth, and large space requirements. Engineering microbes to produce these compounds in large bioreactors could address these process concerns and provide new sources for agricultural chemicals. Microbial metabolic engineering could be applied to produce plant secondary metabolites or compounds used in plants to improve agricultural productivity. Participating in this program would allow me to learn more about industrial biotechnology relating to plants and better understand opportunities available in that field.