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I am a native Mayagüezana who completed my bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez (Colegio!). I participated in several research and COOP experiences during my undergrad and discovered that I wanted to follow a career in research. Dr. Carlos Rinaldi, my mentor for several years, motivated and encouraged me to follow a PhD. I started the PhD program at Rice University in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in which I have focused on Metabolic Engineering and Systems Biology studies of Escherichia coli for the production of biorenewable chemicals.
Systems biology and metabolic engineering strategies for the production of platform chemicals by Escherichia coli
Recent fluctuations in oil prices and the undesired gas emissions from operation of petrochemical industries have sparked widespread interest in the production of carbon-based chemicals from renewable sources. The development of microbial “cell factories” to complement fossil-based chemicals currently produced by petrochemical industries offers an economically feasible and environmentally friendly alternative for the production of renewable chemicals.
A combination of systems biology and metabolic engineering approaches will provide valuable information about key genes and proteins that could power new hypothesis and new cycles of engineering for the improvement of cellular properties that favor the production of the proposed chemicals.
The overall goal of my work is the application of systems biology tools, mainly Transcriptomic (DNA Microarrays) and Proteomic (2D-Gel Electrophoresis) techniques, to guide metabolic engineering strategies for the development of novel bioprocesses that efficiently convert glucose into platform chemicals, such as short-chain fatty acids, methylketones, and pyrones. These goals are being achieved by elucidating inhibition and production mechanisms of the proposed platform chemicals in E. coli using systems-level approaches, establishing metabolic determinants of efficient product synthesis and tolerance and genetically engineering E. coli for the production of the proposed platform.
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