Is it useful? Does it improve people’s lives? Those are the questions Chris Flynn (Microbial Engineering (M.S.) and Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics (M.S. in progress)) asks whenever he undertakes research, and the answers form the development trajectory he hopes to follow in his biotechnology career.
“I want to be at the cutting edge of research that can be applied to make people's lives better,” Flynn says. “Whether that improvement is from developing non-reflective screen coatings at 3M, exploring new biofuels, or my current work studying complex drug biosynthesis, I’m always in pursuit of making useful things for people. That’s why I joined the Biotechnology Institute six years ago, and that’s what keeps me focused on my research today.”
Flynn credits Dr. Bill Coggio, polymer chemistry professor at the University of St. Thomas, for helping steer him toward his current career path. “I had always been interested in biology, but it his class really engaged my excitement in chemistry and science,” he says.
In his University career, he’s been on the ground floor of some innovative research. He worked in Dr. Jeff Gralnick’s lab to kickstart a new research project for producing biofuels in bacteria. He’s recently been working in Dr. Claudia Schmidt-Dannert's lab to study how mushrooms make defense chemicals. “They’re important because many are also good antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs and antimalarial drugs,” Flynn says. With an eye to graduate in 2015, Flynn just began an internship with the University’s Office of Technology Commercialization. “My plan is to work in the biotechnology industry, using enzymes to make useful products,” he says.