On the November 6, 2020 Sören Starck successfully completed his dissertation, which dealt with the research of new sustainable production methods based on the waste material lignin. Due to Corona, promotion as a hybrid event was carried out for the first time at the iSBio.
In his work, Sören researched new methods for the hydrolysis of lignin, the second most common polymer on earth and, at the same time, a gigantic waste stream from biorefineries, and pulp and paper mills. More than 100 million tons of lignin accumulate as waste every year and are mostly just incinerated due to the lack of alternatives. As a qualified bioengineer, Sören developed a process set-up in a pressure reactor to break down lignin into small components such as catechol, phenol or guaiacol using hydrothermal conversion. In the work supervised by Prof. Christoph Wittmann, Sören systematically examined and optimized the process to increase the yield and to specifically influence the aromatic spectrum. The resulting mixtures could be efficiently converted into the platform chemical cis, cis-muconic acid in follow-up tests by microbial cell factories. The multi-stage process has enormous potential for the future.
Due to the corona measures, the PhD defense was carried out as a hybrid event that interested viewers could follow online via a live stream. Unfortunately, we were only able to convey our congratulations to Sören from a distance outside in front of the building. However, Sören received the doctoral hat from his partner Veronique, who had come as a member of his household and knew exactly how to donate the hat, as she herself had received it on the occasion of her doctorate at iSBio before. iSBio will catch up on the celebration later and then also send Sören on the traditional triumph ride in the doctoral student's car.
Photos: Impressions of the day of defense (c) iSBio