Meet Jack Peng-Yu Wang
In this year's Graduate Student Research Symposium, Jack Peng-Yu Wang was awarded first-place honors in the Natural Resources category for his winning poster entitled, "Unlocking Bio-fuel Industry through Comprehending Lignin Biosynthesis."
Wang is now a third-year doctoral student in the Forest Biotechnology group, but his route to NC State began half a world away. He was born in Taiwan, but his family moved to New Zealand when he was very young. Wang says that since he was born into an academically oriented family ". . . I have always been fascinated by all the wonders of scientific research and discoveries." Consequently, he double majored in both biology and chemistry, earning his Bachelor's degrees from the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand.
But Wang's dream was ". . . to work in a research group where projects are performed not by individuals, but the co-ordinate efforts of a team." He truly believes that the Forest Biotechnology group have succeeded in making his dream come true. He supports his belief, stating that the ". . . team of very talented post docs, graduate students and professors has not only offered me an atmosphere of positive learning and interactions with other scientists, but opportunities to collaborate with global research communities."
Wang's graduate research focuses on Lignin, a complex phenolic structural component of the secondary cell walls of all vascular plants. He says that Lignin is ". . . fundamental to the adaptation of plants to land, the evolution of vascular transport and the resistance of plants to pests and pathogens. Lignin is a major barrier to the utilization of biomass for energy, for papermaking, and for forage digestibility due to the interaction of lignin with cellulosics in the plant cell secondary wall."
This research is only a part of a much larger project, says Wang, which studies the complete biosynthesis pathway of lignin through a systems biology approach. He further says that the ". . . study of lignin biosynthesis has been an ongoing process elapsing the past decades, but never has such a comprehensive and thorough research been conducted."
However, Wang's contributions to the research are unique in that he uses different concepts and approaches to the area of study. "Through comprehensive enzymatic studies we have for the first time, revealed a novel coordinated regulation of metabolites by multiple enzymes. Understanding of these complex interactions are critical for accurate model building for lignin biosynthesis."
When not in the lab, Wang says that he can usually be found outdoors. He especially enjoys hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing.
Does he have any advice to offer his fellow graduate students? Wang says to treat your research as a hobby and not like work. "It will feel mulch more enjoyable this way."
Click here to view archived Graduate School stories.