Amanda Ranat

Where did you transfer from?

Normandale Community College

Why did you want to come to the University of Minnesota?

I wanted to study genetics and the University of Minnesota has a good genetics program. I also live near the University.

What did you research?

I worked on engineering microbial consortia using bacteria and yeast to optimize biodiesel production. The production of biodiesel is a complex process since it is difficult to synthesize directly, but with metabolic engineering, it can be made simpler and with greater efficiency. With the use of host cells, such as bacteria and yeast, synthetic pathways can be engineered to increase the production of biodiesel. This is increasingly important as the demand for sustainable energy and alternative fuel is growing as fossil fuel-derived carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming.

What did you get out of this experience?

I have greatly benefited from this research experience—I learned sterilizing techniques, how to mix substrates, how to use an autoclave, and how to do polymerase chain reactions (PCR) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Overall, I got to learn what it means to be in a lab. This experience was so much different than being in a lab for class where everything is set up for you. In this research lab, you live and learn as you go. If something doesn't work, you figure out what the problem was and then either start over or go at it a different way. I enjoyed working in the lab because I knew I could find something new and intriguing through my research.

What are your interests outside of school?

I don’t have much spare time, but I when I do, I like shopping, seeing movies, hanging out with friends, going to museums, and going for bike rides through the city.

Do you participate in any extracurricular activities?

I’m active in the Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development (GCD) Club on campus. I have volunteered at a dialysis clinic, and currently I work for a grain inspection company, processing grain samples and running tests for mycotoxins such as Aflatoxin in corn and Vomitoxins in wheat or rye.

What are you plans for the future?

After getting my bachelor's degree in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, I would like to pursue my interest in medicine. I want to combine my genetics background with pharmacology and learn more about pharmacogenomics.

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