Biotecnology applied to waste management/ treatment
Biocatalysts to replace hazardous chemicals in industrial processes (textile, feed, food and beverages, leather treatment, etc)
Techniques Monica Santa-Maria Uses:
1. Define the problem
2. Determine tools to be used (i.e. Biotech, engineering, physics, etc.)
3. Look for information (literature review)
4. Generate hypothesis and devise a strategy
5. Test hypothesis in the laboratory (using my expertise)
6. validate solution
Monica Santa-Maria's Problem Solving Skills:
Quantitative laser confocal microscopy and atomic force microscopy (AFM)
Experience in biomass pretreatment and saccharification
Plant tissue culture and plant and microbial transformation
Biochemical assays to determine enzyme activity and kinetics
Protein purification and protein ID by LC-MS
Recombinant DNA technology and functional genomics
Surface chemistry modification by self-adhesion of silane monolayers
Microencapsulation by spray-drying
Monica Santa-Maria's Problem Solving Experience:
- I identified root-specific promoters by screening a sweetpotato genomic library to be used for targeted expression of recombinant genes.
- I identified the effect of plant cell Ca2+ that dramatically enhanced the thermal stability of recombinantly produced hyperthermophilic α-amylase and achieved improved starch self-processing in sweetpotato plants expressing a hyperthermophilic α-amylase in the storage roots.
- I selected optimal biocatalysts by evaluating biochemical properties of hyperthermophilic amylolytic enzymes produced in E. coli and tobacco cell cultures.
- I devised a method for microencapsulation of protein, cells and chemicals by spray drying (patent pending), and tested improved delivery of encapsulated cellulolytic enzymes in high solid saccharifications.
- I developed a system that integrates atomic force microscopy (AFM), quantitative laser confocal microscopy and biochemical assays to query structural features in cellulosic substrates that are impacting cellulase action in ongoing hydrolysis reactions.