Wiriya Thongsomboon, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry, was selected as a 2019 Schmidt Science Fellow. She works in the lab of Lynette Cegelski studying biofilms, the communities of bacteria that combine together within a slimy matrix. During her PhD, she discovered a new, naturally modified cellulose in biofilms of E.coli, with implications for the treatment of urinary tract infections. Wiriya now wants to pivot to work with beneficial bacteria and to exploit tools from bioinformatics, metabolomics, and microbial engineering. She will explore the potential of soil microbes for degrading plastics, optimizing plant productivity, and producing value-added chemicals from agricultural products or waste.
Schmidt Science Fellows is an initiative of Schmidt Futures, delivered in partnership with the Rhodes Trust. The program provides "our Fellows with the skills and perspectives to harness and accelerate their exceptional scientific talents. Schmidt Science Fellows engage and coproduce with diverse thinkers in science, politics, society, and business to catalyze new ideas and connections. Our Fellows are part of a community of lifelong fellowship and collaboration, between each other and with the cross-disciplinary networks they develop during the Fellowship year. Working with partners in science, policy, and society Schmidt Science Fellows are helping to shape the future of scientific culture, training, and discovery."