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Lincoln University to co-lead yeast research – Jefferson City News Tribune

Lincoln University is partnering with several institutions of higher education around the country to investigate properties of yeast.
Supported through $1.14 million in federal grants, Lincoln faculty and students will be primarily working with Washington University to study the biomanufacturing assets of yeast and develop an artificial intelligence model to predict product yields of different yeasts.
Lincoln students involved in the project will conduct research at Washington University, study a custom curriculum and gain access to academic opportunities in biomanufacturing, entrepreneurship and data science. The project also includes summer research programs.
Keesoo Lee, a molecular biologist and microbiology professor at LU, is co-principal investigator on the project. In addition to contributing genetic engineering and microbial cultivation expertise, she will be responsible for advising and supervising Lincoln students involved with the research on Washington University’s campus.
Yeasts can be versatile tools for producing food, beverages, biopharmaceuticals, industrial biocatalysts and biofuels, according to LU.
Lee said the team of researchers and students will build a database that will then be used to train AI models to predict yeast productivity and guide which strains of yeast are best for producing biofuels and other commercially valuable fermentation products.
Research is primarily focused on a metabolic model to engineer three kinds of oily yeasts to produce biofuel and therapeutics, such as butanol and flavonoids.
“Through collaborative research, we will build a novel yeast fermentation process, implement the workforce development for (historically Black college and university) students and train students with advanced data science and AI skills for next-generation biomanufacturing,” Lee said in a university news release. “Leveraging this project, WashU and LU are going to build a fast lane so that LU students can enter M.S. and Ph.D. programs.”
Yinjie Tang, a professor of energy, environmental and chemical engineering at Washington University, is also co-principal investigator on the research.
Over the next three years, Lee and Tang will collaborate with Yixin Chen, a computer engineer at Washington University, and Mattheos Koffas, a chemical engineer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, on the project.
The collaboration is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation. An additional $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy is pushing the project to Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington for additional collaboration.

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