Haley Nicole McKeown
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Graduation date: Spring 2023
Additional details: Transfer student
FURI | Fall 2022
Engineering Bacteria to Depolymerize PET Plastics to Combat PollutionAccumulation of plastic waste in oceans and landfills increasingly threatens life due to fragmentation into microplastics. Annually, it is estimated 359 million tons of plastic are produced, 150-200 million tons of which accrues in landfills and contain a substantial portion of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Plasmid constructs have been developed for the expression of PET-hydrolyzing enzymes. The toxicity threshold of terephthalic acid, a by-product of PET depolymerization, was determined for wild-type bacteria. The future plan involves an in situ PET depolymerization process using engineered bacteria.
Mentor: Arul Varman