Welcome new BBE graduate students, post-docs

September 25, 2018

Please welcome the following post-docs and graduate students to our department. Some have shared a little more about themselves.

Graduate students

  • Elizabeth (Elsa) Flage, MS student (advised by Joe Magner)
    I'm from New Brighton, MN and studied horticulture at the U of M for my undergrad. I graduated in 2016. I will be studying wetland hydrology through BBE. I love to bake, explore new parks and camp with my husband, and eat lots of strawberries! 
  • Tanner Barnharst, PhD student (advised by Bo Hu)
    I was born in Wisconsin, but grew up in Rosemount, MN. I left for North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND to pursue a B.S. in microbiology and a minor in chemistry. After graduating from NDSU, I worked for a year at a start-up named Aldevron in Fargo. Then, I worked for another year for Beckman Coulter in Chaska, MN. I gained admittance to the BBE program under Bo Hu where I obstained my M.S. in biosystems engineering. I graduated at the beginning of 2018 where I worked for Medtronic, and now, I am returning for my Ph.D. back in the Hu lab. I will be performing research on using edible fungal strains in leftover corn from the corn ethanol process, dried distillers grains (DDGS). I plan to grow fungi in the DDGS along with other agricultural products (corn stover, corn cobs, and soybean hulls) to make a novel animal feed that is healthier and more sustainable than DDGS alone. In my free time, I am an avid baker, reader, and photographer. I have had my cookies, cakes, and brownies on display at the state fair! No ribbons quite yet though. I enjoy reading reading science fiction and books on self-improvement. I'm only a hobbyist, but I enjoy capturing nature scenes (shout out to the Mycology Club!), people in their natural environment, and fun family moments.
  • Laura Bender, PhD student (advised by Chris Lenhart)
  • Natalia Calixto Mancipe, PhD student (advised by Brett Barney)
    I’m from Bogotá, Colombia. I lived there until I was 18 and then went to Spain to study biotechnology. After that, I came to the U.S. for my graduate education at BBE. Besides taking some more classes at the beginning, I'll be working with Dr. Barney studying plastics' biodegradation in Minnesota's environments, and eventually, bugging a couple students when grading assignments, in a nice way, of course. As for hobbies, I'm a very big music fan, so some of my happy moments go from listening to music while taking a walk/hike (simple, but good) to going to concerts from time to time or simply watching "Mozart in the Jungle." I also spend time with my family and friends. If I had infinite time, I would join one of the university choirs or the karate club, do a hiking trip/weekend, and maybe some painting; in practice, it boils down to the first half of the list.


  • Srinidhi Balasubramanian (works for Jason Hill)
    I am from Mumbai, India. I recently graduated with a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering (specialization: air quality) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I have a B.S. degree in civil engineering from Mumbai University and a M.S. in environmental science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. As a part of my postdoctoral research, I plan to explore links between agricultural activities, and air quality and climate as it relates to human health and welfare. For fun, I love cooking and experimenting with plant-based recipes, reading, and gardening. Thanks to my eight-month-old daughter, I now spend a lot of time crawling, playing with rattles, and singing nursery rhymes!
  • Yi Yang (works for Tim Smith)