Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry and environmental studies, has received a $193,809 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for a project called “Imaging Lignin Degradation.” Taylor will collaborate with colleagues at Penn State University and the University of Tennessee.
Taylor hopes to use fluorescence imaging and isotope trace experiments to develop probes for finding organisms that can break down lignin. She plans to test complex biological samples.
“Think going to the forest and bringing home a bucket of dirt containing small insects and lots of microorganisms and then figuring out which ones can break down lignin. This is related to my own work, where I hope to help turn lignin into a viable carbon source for biofuel production,” Taylor explains.