Author: kaisa

Students in bioengineering

Educating the next generation of researchers is important for sustainable science. Several master’s, bachelor’s, and guest students work daily in the bioengineering research group. Where do they come from, and how did they find their way to our lab?

Throughout this year, the bioengineering laboratory is welcoming 16 undergraduate and master’s students from six different countries, mostly from Estonia but also from as far as India, Pakistan, and Egypt, creating a diverse learning environment for the students. Involving students in research activities provides them with essential knowledge about scientific methods and hands-on experience that supplements their studies. Being actively involved, solving actual scientific problems, and seeing results inspires young people to advance further in their studies and explore yet-to-be-known topics.

Moreover, including the younger generation in active research benefits the research group as a whole. Our scientist, Srdjan Gavrilovic, who is supervising five students this year, commented: “Involving students in research is helpful in advancing more labour-intensive parts of research and exploring hypotheses.”

We also asked our visiting students, Sandra and Javeria, about their experience and how they found their way into the bioengineering lab. “We came to TalTech for one semester as part of the Erasmus Mundus scholarship. Petri-Jaan Lahtvee was our lecturer and he had an industrial project coming up with Fibenol, so he offered us this opportunity. We are just pursuing our master’s degrees, and conducting research together with an industrial producer was a wonderful way for us to explore both scopes – how research is conducted in a laboratory and how work is done in the industry. Having this experience allows us to explore both opportunities and decide whether we want to continue with PhD studies or start working in the industry. Our semester is now over, but we will stay until the end of summer and then continue our journeys.”

What an exciting era of life it is to travel and obtain experience within scientific groups internationally!

Three students defended their theses

Three undergraduate students successfully defended their theses that were conducted under the bioengineering laboratory.

  • Kristjan Pals, BSc in gene technology 2024 “Phosphoketolase gene knockout by CRISPR/Cas9 in nonconventional yeast Rhodotorula toruloides” supervised by Alīna Reķēna
  • Maive Hanni, BSc in gene technology 2024 “Comparison of genome-scale metabolic models for investigating lipogenesis metabolism in Rhodotorula toruloides” supervised by Alīna Reķēna
  • Oksana Tingajeva, BSc in gene technology 2024 “Rhodotorula toruloides’ exopolysaccharides: production, optimization and characterization” supervised by Rahul Kumar and Henrique Sepulveda del Rio Hamacek.

The students noted that conducting theses in the bioengineering laboratory gave them valuable experience on how laboratory work is conducted and good time management skills. They learned how to investigate metabolism in silico, improving their programming skills in Python. R. toruloides is a notable lipid producer and knowing the more specific metabolic pathways allows creation of more efficient microbial cell factories. The theses are part of a wider picture which aims producing oils such as palm oil and biodiesel in a more sustainable way.

Read the full theses in TalTech digital library:

  1. Fosfoketolaasi geeni väljalülitamine CRISPR/Cas9 meetodil mittekonventsionaalses pärmis Rhodotorula toruloides – TalTech raamatukogu digikogu

2. Ülegenoomsete metaboolsete mudelite võrdlus Rhodotorula toruloides lipogeneesi uurimiseks – TalTech raamatukogu digikogu

3. Rhodotorula toruloides’i Eksopolüsahhariidid: tootmine, optimeerimine ja iseloomustus – TalTech raamatukogu digikogu