Megan Ruhmel: The future in a petri dish

Behind the energy

Each day, I get to look into the future.

I’m an algae research technician at ExxonMobil, working with Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (SGI) to develop the perfect strain of fat, fit algae, which can be converted into engine-ready biofuel – science decades in the making.

Working on a project with this much potential is incredibly exciting, and I can’t wait for a time when algae biofuels will fuel the world’s trucks and planes.

It wasn’t always my dream to work with algae. I didn’t even know ExxonMobil had an algae program. But I studied biology and chemistry in college, and with my work experience in genetics, ExxonMobil knew I was the right fit for the program before I did.

Now, the opportunity to work on cutting-edge research means my colleages and I get to think creatively in the lab. We’re experimenting with ways we can grow and transform the algae. Every day, we make minute changes that could impact our big-picture, long-term research.

Those minute changes are the most important part of my job. My fellow technicians and I take daily measurements to see how productive our algae samples are. We see how quickly or slowly they grow according to different parameters, like temperature and light intensity, to develop a strain that produces the maximum amount of energy.

Our work requires diligence and precision in everything from collecting measurements to labeling beakers, because each day could be the day we make a breakthrough.

In our lab, the future is just a petri dish away.

Tags:   algaeBehind the energy
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