Humans of IFE - Laura Navone

27th February 2020

Position: CSIRO-QUT Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform Fellow

What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working in the development of biosensors for screening of Pichia pastoris strains.  P. pastoris is a yeast with great industrial interest and widely used as a microbial cell factory for production of proteins. Products in the market produced in this yeast include biopharmaceutical proteins, like human insulin and analogues, and industrial enzymes like phytases, proteases and collagen, among many others. Yet selection of highly productive strains remains a limiting step for industrial manufacturing. Using a synthetic biology approach, my work aims to develop biosensors to enable screening and selection of the best production strains.

Why is your work important?
Synthetic biology provides opportunities for the development of new industries with the ultimate goal of producing new and improved products and services. In this scenario, the development of a broadly applicable screening method that facilitates selection of highly productive yeast strains accelerates manufacturing of proteins of pharmaceutical and industrial interest. In the Australian context, technologies that enable protein manufacturing will support growth of the pharmaceutical and industrial-biotech sector which in turn will contribute to expand Australian economy.

What excites or inspires you about your field?
I think the capacity to use biology to solve problems is very exciting. With Synthetic Biology we have the potential to create solutions in previously unimaginable ways. We are building enormous capability not only to grow industries, but also to fight diseases, address climate change challenges and find food solutions for a growing population,with the use of biological tools.

What are your hopes for the future?
I hope that future generations get inspired by this emerging discipline and by the things we can build with biology. I hope we can think innovatively and create solutions to current problems to sustain biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.

Celebrating women in STEM
The 2020 Queensland Women in STEM Prize celebrates inspiring early-mid career women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). QUT's Dr Laura Navone is using synthetic biology to solve diverse problems; from cleaning 'dags' from Queensland's 11 million head of cattle, to recycling the 500,000 tonnes of fashion waste dumped in Australia every year. Laura is active in STEM engagement and enjoys participating in activities that inspire the next generation to choose STEM education and careers.

Recognise Laura as an outstanding woman in STEM by voting for her in the 2020 Queensland Women in STEM People's Choice Award. Voting closes 5pm, Wednesday 4 March 2020.

Submit your vote here

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