FEMS Microbiology Letters Poster Prize Winner: Helene Aflenzer

We send our congratulations to Helene Aflenzer, who won the poster prize at the International Conference on Renewable Resources & Biorefineries (RRB2021), sponsored by FEMS Microbiology Letters.

Her poster was titled “Weissella oryzae on the examination stage for pure D(-)-lactic acid production in wood biorefinery”.

The RRB 2021 Conference was held in Aveiro, Portugal from 6-8 September 2021 covering topics from industrial biotechnology, sustainable (green) chemistry and agricultural policy related to the use of renewable raw materials for non-food applications and energy supply.

Read our interview with Helene about her research below:


What is your current position, and what was your scientific journey to get there?

I am currently at the finish line of my PhD at the University of Tasmania, Australia. During my thesis, I investigated the combined effects of ocean acidification and temperature change in marine environments, to see to which extend this has an impact on nutrients (mainly iron) and furthermore on phytoplankton communities. Before, I had already developed a passion for ecology and nature during my based bachelor at the University Graz in Austria and during my Erasmus Mundus Master for marine biodiversity and conservation (UGhent).”


Could you describe the research your poster covered?

During the RRB conference in Aveiro 2021, I presented the first results of the D-lactic acid output by Weissella oryzae. D-lactic acid is hard to obtain in a pure form but finds a large pool of applications in the renewable polyester industry such as packaging and 3D printing. The aim of this work was to determine the purity of D-lactic acid and to develop a cost-effective method for its potential industrial use in downstream processing.”


What do you hope to focus your research on in the future?

For future projects, I am genuinely interested in working towards a sustainable future. This can include working with biobased materials but I also think that there is much more to explore/repair in our current oceans and other environments.”


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