The SIMB Diversity Travel Award was established to promote diversity and to increase the participation of underrepresented minority groups in the Society of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (SIMB) amongst the graduate students making presentations at any SIMB sponsored meeting. SIMB would like to congratulate this year’s winners, Travis Korosh and Elena Vinay-Lara.

Travis Korosh, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Travis Korosh is a Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working in the labs of Drs. Brian Pfleger and Katrina McMahon. Prior to joining the Environmental Chemistry and Technology Department at UW-Madison, he received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Pace University. His research focuses on genetic engineering strategies for enhancing production of various chemicals, as well as bioremediation of hazardous waste streams, with the cyanobacteria Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7002. A native New Yorker, he spends his free time searching for the best thin crust pizza in the Midwest.

Elena Vinay-Lara, University of Wisconsin-Madison
As a PhD student in the Department of Food Science, my research focuses on cell physiology of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and fermentations. As a part of my dissertation work at the Steele lab, I study pyruvate metabolism of LAB. More specifically I work on redirecting the metabolic flux from lactate to alcohols. I am also interested in the construction of tools to better understand metabolism, such as genome scale metabolic networks. My overall goal is to determine the suitability of Lactobacillus casei as potential biocatalyst for the production of higher alcohols.
Ares of interest include: Physiology and Genetics of Lactic Acid Bacteria/ Microbiology / Fermentation / Synthetic Biology / Genetic Engineering.