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MSU’s TerAvest Gets 2018 NSF CAREER Award

Michaela TerAvest

Michaela TerAvest, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, Michigan State University, received $519,357 from NSF’s Division of Engineering to support her project to develop a microbial electrosynthesis platform — a technology that combines renewable electricity storage with carbon capture using bacteria that eat electricity. TerAvest’s project takes a new approach in this field by utilizing genetically modified bacteria, where others have used natural strains.

TerAvest is one of six Michigan State University College of Natural Science (NatSci) women scientists to receive National Science Foundation (NSF) Early CAREER Faculty Awards in 2018. The occasion, which marks the first time that six NSF Early CAREER Awards have been given to a single college—and to six women faculty members in the same year—is unprecedented at MSU. The five-year (2018-2023) grants collectively total more than $3.6 million.

The CAREER Award is one of NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of early career faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.

“This award is very exciting for me for several reasons,” TerAvest said. “It is my first independent research grant; it’s on a project that I have been curious about since graduate school but couldn’t pursue before; and I really believe the results will be impactful in the renewable energy industry.”

TerAvest received her Ph.D. in biological and environmental engineering from Cornell University in 2014, where she studied electron transfer mechanisms of Shewanella oneidensis in microbial electrochemical systems with Lars Angenent. She completed postdoctoral work on the synthetic biology of extracellular electron transfer with Caroline Ajo-Franklin at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Adam Arkin at the University of California, Berkeley.

  • Val Osowski via the College of Natural Science website

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