Ester Dittert, a graduate student in the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) at the University of Kentucky, has been named a recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
The Graduate Research Fellowship provides three years of support for graduate study leading to research-based master’s or doctoral degrees and is intended for students who are at the early stages of their graduate study. The total value of each award is $120,000 over the three-year period.
Dittert is working with Dr. Sue Nokes of the BAE faculty on her research, which involves mathematically modeling the metabolism of a bacterium that could be used to increase efficiency of ethanol fermentation.
Currently, corn is a key part of the process, but if the bacterium being modeled can be included in fermentation, other materials such as corn stalks and leaves could be used, reducing the need for corn in ethanol production.
“The NSF fellowships are highly competitive,” Nokes said. “It is a privilege to work with Ester during her graduate program.”
Dittert is a 2001 graduate of Tates Creek High School in Lexington, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biosystems and agricultural engineering from UK in 2005. She expects to complete work on her master’s degree in 2007, and will then work toward a Ph.D.