Udall to Present NMC Outstanding Achievement Awards

Senator Tom Udall will recognize Dr. Sangeeta Negi of the New Mexico Consortium (NMC) for achieving a two-fold increase in bio-mass productivity in algae this Friday. Loreen Lamoureux, a graduate student at the University of New Mexico (UNM) will be recognized for her work on rapid e-coli detection methods.

“These NMC mentored researchers have bridged groups, disciplines, institutions and very long distances to perform exceptional work with an impact on society,” said Katharine Chartrand, NMC Executive Director. “They embody the spirit of the NMC and the future of science.”

NMC Associate Research ScientistSangeeta Negi works on improving biomass productivity in algae, a critical factor in making algae a viable feedstock for bio-fuels. Negi has developed methods to manipulate the size of the light harvesting antenna in algae, achieving two-fold improvements in photosynthetic efficiency in algal cultures and corresponding increases in biomass productivity.

This is the largest increase in biomass productivity achieved to date for engineered algal strains. NMSU will carry out the first outdoor cultivation trials with these improved algal strains in 2014. This technology could improve water use efficiency and biomass productivity substantially in other crops as well.

UNM student Loreen Lamoureux works on a USDA funded project to develop techniques to rapidly detect e-coli in the meat food supply. This collaboration involving researchers from UNM, the University of Nebraska (UN), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the NMC seeks to detect e-coli contamination early in the meat packing process in order to prevent e-coli outbreaks.

Lamoureux has purified a key biomarker from seven different strains of shiga toxin carrying E. coli. She also developed assays for the biomarkers and biophysical methods for the characterization of molecular interactions of the biomarkers in cell membranes. Lamoureux’s mentors on this project are Dr. Steven Graves of UNM, Dr. Mukundan of LANL and Dr. Montano of the Center for Integrated Technologies at LANL.

The winners will be recognized this Friday, December 6th at the NMC Biological Research Laboratory and Greenhouse. Senator Tom Udall, who will be visiting and taking a tour of the facility, will present the award at a ceremony and reception.

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