Chatting with Dr. Mari Chinn, Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: I received my B.S. from the University of California, Davis in Biological Systems Engineering in 1998. I obtained my M.S. and Ph.D from the University of Kentucky in Biosystems Engineering in 2000 and 2003.
Q. What area are you working in and why?
A: I am working in the bioprocessing area primarily in fermentation technology. I have worked in the area of solid substrate cultivation since 1997, using agricultural residues and processing waste for the production of enzymes and biological control agents. I have recently begun working on improving synthesis gas (gas produced by gasification) fermentations for bioethanol production and investigating the use of sweet potatoes for the production of fuel ethanol and cost-effective amylolytic enzymes. The research I am doing relates to the development of biobased products and alternative fuels, which contributes to efforts focused on adding value to underutilized renewable resources and supporting a sustainable economy. I enjoy the idea that the research I am doing has the potential to positively impact the environment, rural and urban economies and social aspects of the nation and the world.
Q: What's your favorite part of the job?
A: My favorite part of the job is interacting with the students at the university, preparing them for real world expectations, watching them learn, helping them to achieve their goals, sharing research interests and life experiences.
Q: What is the most challenging part of the job?
A: The most challenging part of the job is finding time to meet all the expectations of the job (developing a well known research program: acquiring funding, conducting research, writing manuscripts, advising graduate and undergraduate students, collaborating with other researchers, working on novel projects, maintaining a safe, functional lab, presenting, attending conferences and seminars; teaching classes, advising student clubs, developing summer camp programs; serving on committees for curriculum development, recruitment, public relations, new initiatives, new hires; etc...) and balancing the job with the needs in my personal life (health, fun, hobbies, family, friends)
Q: How long have you been in IBE?
A: I went to and presented at my first IBE meeting in July of 1998, thanks to my undergraduate research advisor Dr. Jean Vandergheynst at UC Davis. I have been a member of IBE since 1999 and actively served on the council for a number of years.
Q: Why do you like IBE?
A: I think the history of IBE is interesting and I appreciate and believe in the vision of IBE.
Q: Why do you think others should join IBE?
A: IBE provides a platform for those involved in work with biological systems to come together and discuss research findings and activities, teaching issues, and the significance of biology within a broad range of disciplines. IBE sponsored events help foster conversations and new relationships between groups of similar and sometimes quite different backgrounds to address technological, environmental, medical, economical and social needs of society.