Jenny Mortimer


LBNL Biosciences, EGSB Department; Joint Bioenergy Institute, Feedstocks Division


biofuels, climate change, renewable energy, plant cell walls, poplar, pectin, volatiles

Project Description

During the spring of 2020, a drought experiment led by Dr Kolby Jardine (LBNL) is being conducted on California poplar trees, with leaf samples being collected from control and drought stressed plants and linked with physiological data (leaf water potential, photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, and the emission of volatile organic compounds methanol and acetic acid to the atmosphere). Working together with JBEI in Emeryville, CA, the undergraduate research candidate will be involved in the isolation of whole cell wall samples from leaves and stems in order to evaluate potential changes in cell wall chemical composition induced by drought. Tasks include the preparation of alcohol insoluble residue (AIR), isolation of specific carbohydrates (e.g. pectin and hemicellulose), and detailed chemical analysis including methyl and acetyl ester content and carbohydrate composition analysis. Samples will be also sent to an external laboratory for analysis by NMR. Finally, the research will involve data analysis of the leaf cell wall samples and comparison with physiological data collected from the plants. Understanding and manipulating the metabolism of cell wall chemical modifications in California poplar will not only provide important knowledge on the physiology and ecology of plants but will also allow the generation of engineered bioenergy crops such as poplar for sustainable production of biofuels and bioproducts, addressing DOE’s goal of developing renewable bioenergy resources. Ref:


Basic analytical chemistry, but all methods will be taught. Experience of working with plants perferred.

Expected time commitment

We would prefer full time for 8-10 weeks, but we can be flexible. A stipend will be available.

Preferred start time:

June 8th (but again, this can be negotiated)