Kellie Omori ’22 thought she would go to medical faculty after learning at Chapman College.
Then, Assistant Professor Cedric Owens, who teaches biochemistry, prompt that Omori be a part of a lab and do analysis throughout her junior yr. Owens inspired her to use for Chapman’s Summer time Undergraduate Analysis Fellowship (SURF) program and gave her recommendation for filling out the appliance.
SURF is an eight-week paid analysis and artistic program during which college students and newly minted alumni take part in a college member’s ongoing work, taking a specific position or making their very own undertaking. On the finish of this system, they current their analysis work at Chapman’s Summer time Analysis Convention.
This summer season, Omori is researching find out how to engineer enzymes often known as chlorogenic acid esterases – which break down chlorogenic acid – in sunflower meal so it’s extra usable in meals.
“Sure meals have actually excessive chlorogenic acid content material, which may trigger undesired results comparable to altering its style or coloration,” she says. “What we’re attempting to do is break it down to stop these undesired results.”
Sunflower meal can be utilized like almond meal, however is not a standard ingredient in human meals due to the enzyme content material. Engineering these enzymes will make them extra usable within the meals business, Omori says.
She says that if that enzyme may be engineered, it opens the door for engineering of comparable proteins. This might make sunflower meal extra fit to be eaten – presentlyit is primarily utilized in low-value animal feed, though it has plenty of protein and is extra degradable than soybean or canola meal.
Again when she was planning on medical faculty, Omori volunteered at hospitals and shadowed docs. Through the pandemic, “I took extra upper-division lessons, took biochemistry,” she says.
As Omori acquired extra concerned in analysis throughout her junior yr, she started contemplating fields outdoors of drugs and leaned in direction of graduate faculty.
She double majored in well being sciences and organic sciences and determined to proceed analysis.
One factor Omori appreciated about her time at Chapman was how the professors care about their college students. She is grateful for the prospect to take part in SURF underneath Owens’ mentorship.
“I really feel prefer it was such an excellent expertise that even when I do not go into analysis, I discovered to be extra impartial, to handle my time,” she says. “Everybody within the lab has taught me a lot and helped me develop.”
Omori, who labored as a COVID-19 tester for an area faculty district whereas she attended Chapman, will begin working as a full-time analysis assistant in Owens’ lab in fall.