Postdocs Gain Corporate Experience

Twenty-five companies host 40 engineering fellows.

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Program officials believe that spending time in company research labs provides more for postdocs than academia, where the focus often is on being published. “Beyond doing research, they can also engage in integration of results into the rest of project work, co-write invention disclosures, and perhaps even initiate tech transfer steps,” Morell said. “In other words, doing innovation with a purpose beyond publications.”

Surdo, who began her fellowship with BioCee last May, is involved with two projects with the company, which develops biocatalytic coatings using whole-cell bacteria. “The first [project] uses an organism that can degrade sulfur-containing compounds present in refinery streams to help refiners produce ultra-low sulfur diesel,” she said. “The second is focused on generating renewable fuels.”

Surdo earned her B.S. in chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2000, and her M.S. and PhD both from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2009. Before starting graduate school, she worked for three and a half years in industry as a chemical engineer. She would like to stay in Minnesota after her fellowship ends, and if possible, with BioCee.

“I’m interested in working on environmental and/or green technology in Minnesota,” she said “While I hope I can stay with BioCee, this post-doctoral fellowship has given me experience that will help develop my career, be it at BioCee, or in government, consulting or industry.”

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