July 25, 2024

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Postdoc Tarryn Miller Crafts 3-Minute Talk for Initial Countrywide Lab Research SLAM | Information

Postdoc Tarryn Miller Crafts 3-Minute Talk for Initial Countrywide Lab Research SLAM | Information

Tells Judges About Changing Plant Lignin Into Legos


Nationwide Renewable Electrical power Laboratory (NREL) Director’s Fellowship postdoctoral researcher
Tarryn Miller competed in the first Nationwide Lab Investigation SLAM competition on Nov. 15, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

“I was unbelievably nervous,” she laughed. “But it was a tremendous-positive practical experience.”

A woman stands on stage and smiles.
Tarryn Miller. Image by Blaise Douros, Lawrence Livermore Nationwide Laboratory

Miller had memorized and rehearsed her necessary three-minute talk on the conversion
of biowaste into new goods. She was in Washington with 16 other contestants symbolizing
all the other nationwide laboratories. In preparation, the team invested time alongside one another
reviewing a single another’s talks beforehand and had acquired coaching from a science
communicator.  

They also achieved with elected officers from the U.S. Dwelling of Associates Nationwide
Labs Caucus and the Senate Nationwide Labs Caucus. Over-all, the time was “very collaborative
and supportive,” Miller stated.

Continue to, she was standing by yourself on phase when she dealt with judges together with an audience
of more than 200 men and women in the Congressional Auditorium of the Capitol Developing: no
props or animation—only a single PowerPoint slide—and a ticking clock.

The 180-2nd time restrict, she knew, was strictly enforced, which included to the strain.

Her talk was section of the Environmental Resilience team, a single of 4 classes in
the contest. The science she presented was about outer membrane vesicles (OMVs), which
she described as microscopic bubbles secreted by microbes. OMVs, Miller claimed, provide
a attainable answer to biological upcycling of waste by actively playing a pivotal position in
organic processes, these types of as squander removal and conversation.

Nonetheless, simply because the SLAM is designed to emphasize the Department of Energy’s investigate
programs—as properly as to aid educate policymakers and their personnel about the critical position
that the countrywide laboratories participate in in the nation’s innovation—presentation concepts
needed to be delivered in language that a standard audience could grasp.

In Miller’s discuss, she drew on her possess adore of crafts to make a comparison concerning
craftspeople, who recycle items these kinds of as wooden into household furniture, and her have investigation
into OMVs, with the probability of recycling waste into useful items.

As she told the audience, “I want to harness these minimal bubbles to remedy significant problems,”
outlining, “I will reprogram them to support in the conversion of lignin into today’s
plastics, flavors, or gas.” And she did produce her punchline, expressing that she is
“basically switching lignin into Legos!” The line was effectively acquired, even if she did
not conclusion up winning.

Miller, a Colorado Faculty of Mines graduate who arrived at NREL in February, is mentored
by Gregg Beckham and Alli Werner in the Bioenergy Science and Technological innovation directorate.
Both of those Beckham and Werner aided her to compose her productive Director’s Fellowship proposal.

The Fruita, Colorado, native, who constantly dreamed of becoming a scientist, observed her
passion in organic investigation as a Mines senior. Miller then spent 6 many years earning
her Ph.D. from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology. There,
her exploration centered on powering synthetic carbon fixation with light. 

It was at Mines that she initially met Jahi Simbai, now in NREL’s Human Sources division.
Simbai encouraged her to implement for the SLAM, so she recorded a a few-minute movie
and sent it to the competition’s judges. “She has been a huge consultant
of NREL” he reported. He noted that Miller was “able to distill some extremely advanced subject areas
from her Director’s Fellowship exploration down so individuals like me can understand it.”

Miller explained she expects to be at NREL as a fellow for at minimum a few years. And she
seems to be ahead to encouraging other folks right here to use for upcoming year’s SLAM. However, she
does not program to contend all over again.

Regardless, she is a supporter of the event, which worries experts to share
their research succinctly with a general audience—while hoping to dismiss the ticking
of a timer.