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Dr. Judith Brown
The cultivation of photosynthetic microalgae has proven to be an effective method for the production of a number of valuable products. In light of growing concerns over global energy sources, the production of renewable biofuels has gained a great deal of attention. Many species of microalgae accumulate high concentrations of storage lipids which can be readily converted to biodiesel. While this practice demonstrates a number of advantages, including the utilization of marginal lands and the capture of atmospheric carbon, efficiency must still be increased to match current energy technologies. My research focuses on the ability of a particular species of algae, Auxenochlorella protothecoides, to adapt its biology to grow efficiently in very low phosphate media. Correlation between gene expression, metabolomics, and epigenetic data collected from cultures of adapting algae will aid in understanding and exploiting the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon, leading to more efficient cultivation.