Beth Papanek is one of 80 students who are part of the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education, a joint initiative of UT and ORNL focused on attracting the nation’s brightest doctoral students in energy science and engineering.
Papanek is focused on her research interest in bioenergy and a process called sonoporation, that uses ultrasonic sound frequencies to modify the permeability of cells. The result of the process is the creation of genetically-mutated microorganisms that help optimize the process of making ethanol.
Papanek is working on the business strategy for nanofermentation, which uses bacterial cells to produce lower-cost nanoparticles, which can be used in a variety of applications such as solar panels, TV displays, sensors, and cancer treatment. The startup, which has licensed the technology from ORNL, is working to identify which of the applications is the best to approach first and build the business model for that particular application.
Papanek earned a B.S. in Chemistry and a M.S. in Bioenergy, both from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.