Stan State Team Honored for Project on Brewers’ Yeast

January 18, 2017


A dual interest in microbrewing and microbiology has brought praise and attention to a group of four Stan State students.

At the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) meeting in Santa Clara held earlier this month, a study on the development of yeast strains for brewing presented by Stan State students Diego Lopez, Sabrina Williamson, Braulio Rodriguez and Max Perez-Mendez was judged the best of the conference by attendees.

“Our team was the one who did their homework, including many interviews within the industry and spending lots of time developing and changing commercialization ideas,” said Choong-Min Kang, Stan State associate professor of microbiology, who led the team. “We have students who are interested in microbrewing, and some make beers at home. They were ready to materialize things they have been dreaming of.”

The presentations were part of the CSU’s I-Corps program, which supports entrepreneurship education, networking opportunities and mentoring for faculty and student researchers at all 23 CSU campuses. On the first day of the Santa Clara conference, 12 teams representing seven CSUs presented product concepts, and six were chosen to offer revised presentations at the close of the conference. This was the first time Stan State sent a team to the competition.

The six selected teams are eligible to submit their presentations to the National Science Foundation I-Corps Teams program and compete for a $50,000 prize to further explore commercialization and refine their concepts and prototypes. Two teams were additionally honored, with one receiving a panel award and one earning specific praise from the crowd. Stan State’s presentation claimed the latter.

“Our team received the crowd favorite award, indicating that most people believed that our team did the best job,” Kang said. “I think it was remarkable because it was not only our first time to compete, but also because our team was so well-received by the audience and panels. Now we realize we’re capable of doing the best job in these competitions, and above all, that’s the best feeling.”