María Gracia Alván Vargas PhD Student

Hi there! I am Maria Gracia from the Inca’s land, Peru. I am a curious metabolic engineer working on the production of sustainable and biodegradable polymers using C1 molecules as substrate.

About Me

I completed my B.Sc. Genetics and Biotechnology in my hometown, Lima, at Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. During my bachelor, I worked on the production of rhamnolipids using a soil-isolated Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain, falling in love with biotechnology. During that time, I also had the opportunity of going to different study-exchanges to Los Angeles, USA, and Leipzig, Germany. In Leipzig, I worked at the Solar Materials Lab at UFZ (Center for Environmental Research) using cyanobacteria to study pH-dependent fluorescent proteins that could help us visualize the intracellular pH for hydrogen production. In 2019, I was selected among Peruvian students by REPU (Research Experience for Peruvian Undergraduates) to do an internship abroad, I ended up in Denmark with the one and only SEM group. My first time here paved the road for my current projects as I was working on establishing production of PHB using the beloved Pseudomonas putida (what a great experience that must have been that I returned!). The same year, I started working with C. glutamicum in Bielefeld, Germany, at the Wendisch laboratory. This was my very first time working more in deeper metabolic engineering by implementing synthetic pathways to produce non-canonical amino acids in C. glutamicum which is the to-go bug for such molecules. Next, I did a M.Sc. in Systems and Synthetic Biology at Paris-Saclay University in France, working on my master thesis at the Ledesma-Amaro laboratory in Imperial College London, where I established a microbial consortium between cyanobacteria and the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica. The aim of the consortia was to sustainably produce industrially relevant compounds by capturing CO2 with cyanobacteria which feeds sucrose onto the producer yeast.