Udall Presents Two New Mexico Consortium Outstanding Achievement Awards for Mentored Research

Sangeeta Negi works with Dr. Richard Sayre, a joint NMC-LANL scientist. Courtesy/LANL

Loreen Lamoureux of UNM. Photo by Ann Kuiper 

LANL News:

  • Sangeeta Negi of the NMC and Loreen Lamoureux of UNM to receive awards for their work in Algal Bio-technology and Bio-medical Engineering.

Senator Tom Udall will recognize Dr. Sangeeta Negi of the New Mexico Consortium (NMC) for achieving a two-fold increase in bio-mass productivity in algae this Friday. Loreen Lamoureux, a graduate student at the University of New Mexico (UNM) will be recognized for her work on rapid E. coli detection methods.

“These NMC mentored researchers have bridged groups, disciplines, institutions and very long distances to perform exceptional work with an impact on society,” NMC Executive Director Katharine Chartrand said. “They embody the spirit of the NMC and the future of science.”

UNM student Loreen Lamoureux develops techniques to rapidly detect e-coli in the meat food supply. This collaboration involving researchers from UNM, the University of Nebraska (UNL), LANL and the NMC seeks to detect E. coli contamination early in the meat packing process in order to prevent E. coli outbreaks.

Lamoureux worked as part of a team led by Dr. Rodney Moxley of UNL to purify a key biomarker from seven different strains of Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli. The team developed assays for the biomarkers and biophysical methods for the characterization of molecular interactions of the biomarkers in cell membranes. In addition to Dr. Moxley, Lamoureux’s mentors on this project are Dr. Steven Graves of UNM, Dr. Mukundan of LANL and Dr. Montano of the Center for Integrated Technologies at LANL.

NMC Associate Research Scientist Sangeeta Negi works on improving biomass productivity in algae, a critical factor in making algae a viable feedstock for bio-fuels. Negi has developed methods to manipulate the size of the light harvesting antenna in algae, achieving two-fold improvements in photosynthetic efficiency in algal cultures and corresponding increases in biomass productivity. 

This is the largest increase in biomass productivity achieved to date for engineered algal strains. NMSU will carry out the first outdoor cultivation trials with these improved algal strains in 2014. This technology could improve water use efficiency and biomass productivity substantially in other crops as well.

Lamoureux’s work is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2012-68003-30155 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Negi’s work was supported by grants to Dr. Richard Sayre from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Basic Energy Sciences, part of the Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center (PARC) Energy Frontier Research Center, DE-SC0001035.  PARC is led by Dr. Bob Blankenship of the University of Washington, St. Louis. 

The winners will be recognized this Friday, December 6th at the NMC Biological Research Laboratory and Greenhouse. Senator Tom Udall, who will be visiting and taking a tour of the facility, will present the award at a ceremony and reception.

About the New Mexico Consortium

The New Mexico Consortium is a non-profit corporation established by the three NM research universities. The NMC builds research and education partnerships with Los Alamos National Laboratory, the NM universities, and other university and industry partners from around the world.  

The scope of university/LANL research collaboration in the NMC spans computer science, space science, modeling and analysis and material science.  Senator Udall’s visit to the NMC Biological Laboratory and Greenhouse highlighted NMC collaborations in Plant Biology and Bio-medical Engineering.

The NMC Biological Laboratory and Greenhouse is the cornerstone of a joint initiative with LANL to pursue cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional initiatives in Plant Biology and Biomedical Technology and Engineering. University faculty and researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and across the world collaborate in our laboratory on global challenges in food security, medicine and sustainable energy. NMC’s plant biology and biomedical technology initiatives are uniquely positioned at the frontier of a fertile research area with a tremendous potential return.

For more information, please contact Shannan Yeager at syeager@newmexicoconsortium.orgor 505.412.6898.