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University of Wisconsin Oshkosh senior chemistry major Wesley Morioka, of Chicago, Illinois, recently presented his work involving bio fuels at the UW System’s 14th-annual Research in the Rotunda.

Morioka’s research revolves around 4-coumarate: CoA Ligase, an enzyme involved with plant cell wall biosynthesis.

The big picture of Wesley’s research is mainly about how to extract sugars encased in a plant’s cell wall. He hopes that he can use his expertise in biochemistry to design and generate a plant cell wall that will give up its sugars more easily. This modified plant cell wall would have implications for the manufacturing of biomass or plant-derived materials.

“We’re able to more easily extract the sugars, because the processes involved right now of extracting those molecules and those compounds are very environmentally unfriendly,” Morioka said.

Morioka worked with UWO assistant chemistry professor Christopher Bianchetti on his study before presenting his work at Research in the Rotunda. This annual event gives students an opportunity to have their research showcased at the state’s capitol. The UW System is a national leader in undergraduate research, which contributes to the state’s priorities, including retention, graduate rates, workforce and economic development.

Morioka’s goal is to eventually earn a doctoral degree.

“I’m fairly certain that the techniques and the methods that I learned in Dr. Bianchetti’s lab will only enhance my CV or my resume,” Morioka said.

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