AIM-Bio Exchange Program is underway

The AIM-Bio exchange program is available for faculty, technical staff, PhD students and postdocs so they can travel to the partner university to support course development or research. The first AIM-Bio exchange student traveled from North Carolina State University (NC State) to the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in August 2021. During spring semester 2022, three students from DTU are visiting NC State University. Meet the students and learn about their research supporting the AIM-Bio program.
Photo of Deniz Durmusoglu

Deniz Durmusoglu

As part of the AIM-Bio Exchange Program, Deniz Durmusoglu, PhD student from the Crook Lab at NC State, traveled to Denmark in August 2021 to conduct research in the lab of José Luis Martinez Ruiz, PhD, at DTU.

During her time in Denmark, Ms. Durmusoglu participated in activities including the Introduction to Fermentation Technology Training School, Novo Nordisk Foundation’s symposia, department research seminars, PROGRESS seminars and a career day event. The original plan for a 6 month stay was extended so that Ms. Durmusoglu could complete her research and she was welcomed back to NC State in February 2022.

The level of collaboration between NC State and DTU increased significantly as the result of this exchange visit. Ms. Durmusoglu shared her knowledge of probiotic yeasts with researchers in Denmark and she has opened the doors for collaboration between the Crook Lab with multiple labs at DTU. Deniz has been an ambassador for the AIM-Bio Exchange Program and she will share her experience with other NC State researchers on May 11 at a lunch-and-learn event.

Monica Muldbak

Monica Muldbak, a PhD student funded by AIM-Bio and supervised by Dr. Krist Gernaey in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at DTU, is one of the first DTU students to study at at NC State.

At NC State’s Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC), Monica Muldbak is co-advised by Dr. Gary Gilleskie and Dr. Ryan Barton. Her PhD project aims to develop digital models of bioreactors and relevant downstream unit operations, based on an E.coli-based fermentation process being run at the BTEC pilot plant.

“I was picked up at the airport by Ilin Misaras from the NC State Global Training Initiative, who drove me to the place which I am calling home for the next couple of months,” Ms. Muldbak said. “Over the next few days, Ilin helped me to settle in and gave me a tour of the North Carolina State University campuses.”

The Global Training Initiative provides exchange students pre-arrival support and onboarding to NC State. This service helps to ease the transition to a new country so that students can focus on their research and adapting to a new culture. During her stay, Ms. Muldbak attended the Automation, Process Control and Real-time Monitoring of Yeast Culture short course at BTEC. She has also been able to sit in on academic courses at BTEC, and she received training on a 300L bioreactor in BTEC’s simulated GMP environment. Ms. Muldbak‘s visit at BTEC, which began in mid-February, concludes May 20, 2022. She plans to return to NC State University in 2023 to continue her research at BTEC.

Cecilie Grubb Jensen

Cecilie Grubb Jensen is pursuing a Master of Science in engineering at DTU, Majoring in biotechnology, she is visiting BTEC Feb. 1–July 31, 2022. Ms. Jensen is the first AIM-Bio MSc student to participate in the AIM-Bio exchange program at NC State.

Her research project objectives include the following:

  • Apply CRISPR based editing tool for Lactococcus lactis for prophage deletion mutants to develop superior bacterial cell factories for recombinant protein production
  • Characterize the selected strains in micro-bioreactors/lab-scale bioreactor and assess their performance physiologically

Shortly after her arrival at NC State, Ms. Jensen attended the ISPE-CaSA 2022 Life Sciences Technology Conference at the Raleigh Convention Center. She also attended the AIM-Bio Automation, Process Control and Real-time Monitoring of Yeast Culture short course. She has received 300 L bioreactor training in BTEC’s simulated GMP environment. She is also drafting a literature review for publication. If pandemic restrictions allow, she and the other exchange students will participate in an industry tour before her departure.

Photo of Ilenuta Simina Cuciurean

Ilenuta Simina Cuciurean

Ilenuta Simina Cuciurean is a MSc Eng. student in biotechnology at DTU who is visiting NC State from March 31 – July 15, 2022 as part of the AIM-Bio exchange program. She is advised by Steffen Goletz, PhD, at DTU Biotechnology and Nathan Crook, PhD, in NC State’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Ms. Cuciurean’s research project objectives include:

  • Design expression vectors for expression of nanobodies and multiple nanobodies 
  • Clone and generate expression vectors 
  • Transform mammalian, bacteria, and yeast cell factories 
  • Express and purify nanobody constructs from different cell factories 
  • Characterize nanobody constructs

Ms. Cuciurean is performing her thesis work jointly with DTU and NC State during spring semester 2022, and her research is expected to benefit both. If pandemic restrictions allow, she will participate in an industry tour with the other exchange students before returning to Denmark.