Eridan Rocha Ferreira from Göteborgs universitet and Yvonne Nygård from Chalmers.
​The grant is awarded to Eridan Rocha Ferreira from University of Gothenburg and Yvonne Nygård from Chalmers.​​
​Photo: Sofia Sabel/Hasselbladstiftelsen.

Yvonne Nygård receives grant from the Hasselblad Foundation

Yvonne Nygård has received 1 million SEK from the Hasselblad Foundation for her research on development of efficient cellfactories.
“I am very happy and proud to receive this grant,” says Yvonne Nygård, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology and Biological engineering at Chalmers.
The Hasselblad Foundation annually awards grants to two female researchers in natural science at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg. The grant was established to draw attention to successful female scientists in the beginning of their academic career and give them an opportunity to continue to develop their research.

“Yvonne is a very determined researcher who develops new tools and integrates different methods in an innovative way. She has specific visions with her research, her international collaborations and her personal development where she focuses on leadership development and teaching”, says Anders Danielsson, County Governor in Gothenburg at the award ceremony in Gothenburg Concert Hall.

Sustainable alternatives for a fossil free society

Yvonne Nygård conducts research in industrial biotechnology and focuses on the design of efficient cellfactories. She works with microorganisms that can use residues from the forest industry and agriculture to produce biofuels and chemicals. In addition, Yvonne is involved in research on syngas fermentation and microbial electrochemistry, where bacteria produce chemicals based on carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide. The aim of the research is to develop sustainable alternatives for a future fossil free society.

Develops yeast strains with increased tolerance to inhibitors

Yvonne uses yeast cells for production of biochemicals from residual biomass. The yeast cells  consume the sugar in the biomass and use it as raw material when producing bioethanol or other biochemicals. These so-called cellfactories can produce many valuable chemicals, which can be used, for example, as raw materials in the production of bioplastics.

Biomass as raw material does not only contain different kinds of sugar, it also contains inhibitors which prevent cells from growing or producing optimally.

“My research is focused on developing yeast strains with increased tolerance to these inhibitors. By understanding how the cells respond to stress, in the form of inhibitors, among other things, you can create strains with higher vitality and production rate,” says Yvonne.

Important to work with research that can be applied in society

Recently, Yvonne's research group has developed new tolerant yeast strains using the CRISPR / Cas9 technology. She is also working in a project on development of genetic biosensors, that can measure the amount of biochemicals produced in a cell. These biosensors can be used to monitor the production, or as a tool for developing new, better cellfactories.

“For me, it is important to work with research that can be applied in society, in the short or long term. In my case the research can lead to new production processes for the industry. I want my research to answer parts of the bigger questions, for instance how to create energy efficient, climate-neutral solutions to introduce a bio-based economy in society,” says Yvonne Nygård.

FAKTA: The Hasselblad Foundation grant for Female Scientists

  • ​The Hasselblad Foundation grant for Female Scientists is awarded annually since 2011 to two women researchers employed at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg working in the field of natural sciences, for further research qualification. 
  • In 2019 the grant, of 1 million SEK each, is awarded Yvonne Nygård, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers, and Eridan Rocha Ferreira, researcher at the Institute of Clinical Sciences at the University of Gothenburg. 

Text: Susanne Nilsson Lindh
Photo: Sofia Sabel/Hasselbladstiftelsen​

Published: Thu 17 Oct 2019.