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FAPC helps student grow her passion in research

Christian Ley, an OSU biosystems and agricultural engineering junior originally from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, is researching microalgae for renewable fuel production at FAPC.

By Shelby Rogers, FAPC Communications Services Student

(Stillwater, Okla. – May 5, 2016) – Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center is known for helping small businesses commercialize food products and conducting food and agricultural research.

However, FAPC, a part of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, is playing a vital role in educating and training undergraduate and graduate students about career opportunities in the food industry as well.

“Although FAPC is not an university academic unit, the center employs approximately 70 graduate and undergraduate students,” said Roy Escoubas, FAPC director. “While working and conducting research at FAPC, these students work with center faculty and staff, and sometimes representatives from food companies, which prepare them for working in the food industry.”

One of those undergraduate students is Christian Ley, an OSU biosystems and agricultural engineering junior. Originally from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Ley is researching microalgae for renewable fuel production at FAPC.

“My initial research project involving microalgae-based renewable fuels stemmed into an in-depth study aimed at reducing the expenses associated with microalgae cultivation,” Ley said. “This multi-faceted project has the capacity to address several environmental issues in one system. Our demonstration studies have proven that microalgae can grow in hydraulic fracturing wastewater and produce biomass that can be used as a feedstock for renewable fuel production.”

Ley said words cannot describe how grateful she is for her research adviser, Nurhan Dunford, FAPC oil/oilseed specialist, for the help during the past three years because it has helped grow her passion to research innovative ways to transform the energy sector.

“Christian is dedicated to research,” Dunford said. “She loves research with long-term impact on society, environment and people in need. During the period she worked in my group, Christian improved her critical thinking and laboratory skills and learned about proper research planning, data collection, analyses and interpretation and most importantly interpretation of the research results.”

Ley has received many awards with her research, including the Wentz Research Scholarship, Niblack Research Scholarship, Freshman Research Scholarship and Grand Prize at the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

She plans on attending graduate school to get a degree in civil and environmental engineering because her research has clarified her aspirations. Ley said she hopes her efforts will make lasting benefits in humanitarian engineering efforts and water quality research.

“Christian is curious, cares about big issues, loves learning and works very hard to achieve her goals,” Dunford said. “I am sure we will continue to hear success stories in which she is involved.”

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Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant university that prepares students for success. OSU has more than 36,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 25,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 120 nations. Established in 1890, Oklahoma State has graduated more than 260,000 students who have been serving Oklahoma and the world for 125 years.