Our graduate students and postdoctoral researchers play an enormous role in the transition to a sustainable, resilient, and affordable energy future that is centered on social and economic equality. From lab experiments to field work to classrooms, these leaders of today and tomorrow are our catalysts for energy discovery.
In this series, we learn more about what inspired these talented researchers, what brought them to their field of study, and the questions that drive their work at the Wisconsin Energy Institute.
This week we spoke with Balendra Sah, a postdoctoral researcher in Robert Landick’s lab at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Balendra is from Mirchaiya, Nepal, and studied biochemistry for his Ph.D. at the Indian Institute of Science. He now studies metabolic engineering and synthetic biology.
What brought you to UW–Madison and the Wisconsin Energy Institute?
After I completed my Ph.D., I was looking for a lab where I could do further research in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, and I found the Landick lab as a suitable group to pursue my research interests in that same field.
What is one thing that surprised you about UW, Madison, or Wisconsin?
I feel that UW–Madison and Wisconsin are so accepting of new faces! People here have been welcoming and helpful.
Can you tell me about your research in a way that you would describe to friends or family?
I am trying to engineer bacteria to eventually produce biofuels. Biofuels can be a suitable alternative to replacing gasoline. This will help to control the emission of carbon dioxide and other harmful gas. Ultimately, this will save our atmosphere.
What is a practical use or application of your research outside the lab?
At the global level, biofuels are an alternative source of fuel and a form of renewable energy. At WEI, I am working to assist in producing biofuels as a sustainable alternative source of energy.
What led you to this area of research?
I was always interested in studying metabolic engineering and synthetic biology as a postdoctoral researcher. Now at WEI, I have received this opportunity.
What do you hope to accomplish during your time at UW–Madison?
As a postdoctoral researcher, I want to learn how to complete independent research and work on networking. I would also like to learn how to write grants, run a research lab independently, and develop more organizational skills.
What do you do for fun?
During my free time, I like to go boating or take long drives. I also spend time exploring downtown Madison and meeting with friends and family.
What is one hobby you have?
I enjoy sketching! This is a skill I am trying to learn more about in my free time.