The BRC's Unsung Heroes

The BRC’s Unsung Heroes

Every operation has its unsung heroes. At the BRC, it’s student workers who assist the BRC’s full-time employees keep production running smoothly by washing dishes, cleaning reactors, and harvesting bacteria. In exchange, they receive valuable industrial experience and develop professional connections that last a lifetime.

Sophie Justinak worked at the BRC as a student for two years until her graduation in 2016 with a degree in Biosystems and Bioproducts Engineering. Justinak applied the experience to her current job in the environmental division of Domtar Corporation, a paper mill in Nekoosa, WI. At Domtar, bacteria are hard at work helping remove the organic matter from polluted mill water before it goes back to the Wisconsin River. Interested in environmental issues, she is considering a return to graduate school to study polymer chemistry and hopes to work on improving sustainable packaging.

Jake Timler transferred to the University of Minnesota from Metropolitan State University to pursue a degree in Biosystems and Bioproducts Engineering. After he graduated in 2014, he continued at the BRC until he got his current job as an air quality permit engineer at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Sokamarint Chak worked for the BRC for two years until he graduated in 2017 with a double major in microbiology and medical laboratory science.  While working at the BRC, Chak was accepted to and participated in a summer undergraduate laboratory program at Argonne National Labs in Chicago. Chak’s parents came to the United States as refugees from Cambodia fleeing the Khmer Rouge. He chose the University of Minnesota to follow in the footsteps of an older brother who now attends the pharmacy program at the University of Minnesota Duluth Campus. Chak is pursuing a medical technology career in the Twin Cities.