Fralin Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow studies methane-producing microorganisms
As part of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, Virginia Tech sophomore and biochemistry major Taylan Tunckanat is characterizing enzymes to understand how methane-producing microorganisms are able to survive in environments with high concentrations of salt.
Tunckanat said that his biochemistry journey all started with an eccentric high school biology teacher: “I generally enjoyed most of the sciences in high school,” he said. “But, I had a very passionate biology teacher and she really liked enzymes. That’s what led me to reach out to Dr. Allen, who is an expert in enzymology.”
Kylie Allen, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry in the College of Agriculture in Life Sciences, has a lab on the second floor of Fralin Hall. The Allen lab researches methane and methanogens, which are methane-producing microorganisms that have the ability to reduce carbon dioxide to methane.
With a focus on the production and consumption of methane in nature, the lab hopes to gain “a more complete and deeper understanding of methane metabolism [which] could allow for the development of alternative fuels and potential remedies for climate change,” said Allen.
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