This series highlights ABPDU alumni. We interview different alumni to learn more about their career path and what makes them passionate about their work.
Aigerim Daniyar joined the ABPDU first as a community college intern in 2016, and then was a student research assistant. Now, she is pursuing a career in the bioindustry.
How did you become interested in science?
I’m from Kazakhstan, and growing up I always liked math and science, but my grandmother would tell me that because I was a girl, I shouldn’t study science, that I should study something related to language instead. I ended up earning my first bachelor’s degree in languages and psychology. I came to the U.S. as a student and recognized the different mentality and culture, and realized I could do what I wanted to do. A friend encouraged me to take classes at community college, so I decided to enroll in Contra Costa Community College. I started taking math and science courses and got involved in research. It was very challenging but I really liked it.
Tell me about your experience at ABPDU.
While I was a pre-engineering student at Contra Costa Community College, I was a member of the Center for Science Excellence program. The program director and my mentor Dr. Seti Sidharta encouraged me to attend an informational meeting hosted by Berkeley Lab about the Department of Energy’s Community College Internship program. I ended up getting a three-month internship at the APBDU through this program.
During my internship, I worked on analyzing feedstock blends, like corn stover and switchgrass, to determine which combination of feedstocks gives the highest yields of glucose. The collective data was used to create a statistical model to predict which blend is best. Our paper on this work was recently published in Biochemical Engineering Journal.
I continued at the ABPDU for two more semesters as a student research assistant and helped the fermentation team with various tasks in industry collaboration projects.
What did you enjoy most about working at ABPDU?
I enjoyed the environment and people at ABPDU. It is a small facility, so I got a chance to get to know all of my teammates. Everyone was nice and supportive, especially my supervisor Akash Narani, current program director Deepti Tanjore and former program director Todd Pray. It was my first experience in a well known research lab and I am very appreciative for the support and experience I gained at ABPDU. ABPDU provided me with real world hands-on experience directly related to my degree, which made my admission application stronger in the chemical engineering department at Oregon State University.
What are your career goals?
With my undergraduate degree in chemical engineering, I hope to do research in sustainable engineering, biotech, or in the pharmaceutical industry. I am currently applying for a master’s degree in data science and statistics — an idea I actually got when I was at ABPDU. During my internship, I worked with statistical programs, but I didn’t know how to use them properly, so my teammates at ABPDU helped me learn. Data science is such an important field, and I’m interested in learning how data science and chemical engineering can benefit from each other.