Hood College Biomedical Science Graduate Student Presents at AAAS Annual Meeting

Hood College Biomedical Graduate Student, Jose Sanchez, Presents at AAAS Meeting

The Graduate School at Hood College is proud to feature Biomedical Science graduate student, Jose Sanchez, who presented his thesis research at the 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

Jose Sanchez

Program

  • Biomedical Science (M.S.)

Department

  • Biology

Degree

M.S.

Title

Biomedical Science

What is the AAAS Annual Meeting?

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), founded in 1848, is the world’s largest multidisciplinary science society fulfilling its mission to advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people through a broad array of initiatives focused on communication, public engagement, education, scientific responsibility, public policy, and science diplomacy.

The AAAS Annual Meeting offers a unique, exciting, interdisciplinary blend of more than 120 scientific sessions, plenary and topical lectures, flash talk sessions, e-poster presentations, and international exhibit hall. Each year, the community of leading scientists, educators, policymakers, and journalists gathers to discuss cutting-edge developments in science, technology, and policy.

How did you learn about the AAAS Annual Meeting and how did Hood College’s Graduate School extend its support?

I learned of this opportunity when April Boulton, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School at Hood College passed along the opportunity to my advisor Craig Laufer, Pd.D. who then shared it with me. I immediately registered. I could not pass up this opportunity up!

Why did you choose to present your thesis research at the AAAS Meeting?

I chose this conference because I knew I’d be exposed to cutting edge research from across the world. I spoke to many researchers about their work which ranged from the detection of gravitational waves in space to how the UK and the US are studying melting ice glaciers to assess the impact on sea levels. I even saw a great e-poster presentation on using theatrical plays to teach undergraduate students the X-ray crystallography and biology of DNA. I especially appreciated the opportunity to present my thesis research to an audience outside of the Hood College community. Having to present my research (and leave time for questions) within a 10 minute window was a great exercise in the economy of words and was a great way to build confidence before my thesis defense. This was an invaluable professional development opportunity.

What was your thesis research topic?

The title of my thesis is: “Thermal Denaturation and Refolding of Carbohydrate Binding Modules to Improve Enzyme Recycling in a Lignocellulosic Biorefinery.”

The Laufer group has focused on engineering enzymes with properties suitable to convert lignocellulose from agricultural waste into valuable products such as renewable biofuels. These enzymes help break down the lignocellulose polymers found in plant biomass into simple sugars through a saccharificationreaction—these simple sugars can then be turned into ethanol by yeast for fuel. A major obstacle we currently face is that following the saccharification reaction, many of our enzymes become stuck to the residual, undigested biomass. Replenishing these lost enzymes is costly and prevents the process from being cost-competitive compared to petroleum-based fuels. My thesis focuses on developing a temperature tunable carbohydrate binding domain that will allow us to rescue enzymes that have been lost to undigested plant matter so that they can be reused in multiple rounds of biomass saccharification. Through the recycling of the enzymes, the cost of the process will be significantly reduced.

How did attending the AAAS Meeting impact you?

It was a defining moment in my professional career. I presented among professors and researchers from across the world, which was equally humbling and exciting. Some of my earlier data was already submitted as part of an approved grant application to the USDA which has funded our work. By presenting my most recent data to other scientists, I have gained invaluable feedback on how to improve my experiments which will greatly improve the data we submit as part of future grant applications and publications. I’m eager to get back in the lab now!

Inspired and ready to #GOFURTHER in your education & career? Learn about Hood's Graduate School & Biomedical Science M.S. program by clicking here!

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