Ph.D. candidate, Allison Yaguchi, successfully defends her dissertation to graduate this December

December 16, 2020

Allison Yaguchi successfully defended her dissertation titled “Development of Cutaneotrichosporon oleaginosus to Convert Lignin-Derived Phenolics to Oleochemicals” on November 18th.

Her research identified a novel yeast able to robustly convert an aromatic-rich waste stream, called lignin, into lipids. These microbially-derived fats can be converted into value-added oleochemicals, such as biodiesel or omega-3 fatty acids. Her findings regarding the metabolism and genetics utilized by Cutaneotrichosporon oleaginosus will enhance the body of knowledge regarding aromatic catabolism in yeast systems – an area that remains largely unexplored. She is an author on 8 publications, presented at over 20 conferences, and mentored over 15 undergraduates during her time at Clemson.

Yaguchi says she will look back fondly on her time at Clemson, though it was a long, hard road. She reflects, “I joke that if I redid my whole PhD knowing what I know now, I could probably do the whole thing in at least half the time. There will be a lot of missteps, failures, and unfortunate surprises. It might feel like you take three steps back for every one step forward. My advice is to surround yourself with people who will support you through those rough waters. Remember that you are here at Clemson because someone saw potential in you. Find good mentors who can help you turn that potential into success and a positive group of friends to keep you going when you feel discouraged.”

After graduating, Yaguchi will take a position at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO as a post-doctoral researcher before returning to academia as a faculty member.