The SIMB Diversity Travel Award has been 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.

Amanda Williams-Rhaesa – University of Georgia

Amanda Williams-Rhaesa is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Georgia, where she works in Dr. Michael Adams’ lab. Prior to joining the doctoral program, Amanda received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and her B.A. in Italian from the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on utilizing thermophilic bacteria for biofuel production from plant biomass. Currently, she has been focusing on metabolic engineering the cellulolytic thermophile Caldicellulosiruptor bescii for increased ethanol production and her work has included studying the genetic stability of different strains of this organism. Amanda is dedicated to promoting diversity and women in STEM and has focused her efforts on local outreach and mentorship of undergraduate students for independent research.

Allison Werner – Colorado State University

Allison Werner is a Ph.D candidate at Colorado State University, working in the lab of Dr. Christie Peebles in the Biological and Chemical Engineering Department. She received her B.S. in Biomolecular Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Her research focuses on improving metabolic engineering strategies in cyanobacteria in the dynamic condition of daily light:dark cycles. Specifically, she has developed genetic engineering tools and applied systems biology approaches to better understand Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 metabolism in daily light:dark cycles. The overall goal of her work is to improve chemical productivities and titers in industrially-relevant conditions for cyanobacteria.