The biofuels industry in Colorado and around the nation has grown so complex that the next generation of scientists need to know all its angles - from the chemistry of making it to the economics of selling it, said Colorado State University Professor Ken Reardon, the recipient of a $3 million National Science Foundation grant to provide interdisciplinary biofuels training for doctoral students.
"The grant's purpose is to create doctoral training programs that will prepare graduates to play an active role in the nation's science and engineering future,” said Dr. Reardon, a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. “The biofuels industry needs people who understand the whole picture - where biomass comes from, the ways in which it's transformed into fuels and chemicals and whether the entire process is sustainable."
The NSF grant will establish the Integrated Graduate Education in Biorefining and Biofuels Program and will support the education of up to 45 doctoral students over the next five years in everything from environmental assessment (greenhouse gas impacts) to fuel engineering and plant biotechnology. Colorado State will provide an additional $600,000 for graduate teaching assistants and tuition premiums; the funding also supports four master's students from CSU-Pueblo.
Colorado State University aims to be carbon neutral - reducing its greenhouse gas emissions through conservation and alternative energy sources - by 2020, President Larry Edward Penley said in his annual Fall Address in September.
The goal is part of Colorado State's leadership as the "Green University" where students, faculty and staff serve as a role model for environmental stewardship, develop programs to train the growing green workforce, and create alternative energy solutions that directly help to solve some of the world's most pressing environmental problems.
"A premier research university is committed to the ideal that educated and motivated people can make a difference in the world, and CSU as the Green University, is leading the way in research, education and practice associated with sustainable energy and the environment," said President Penley. "We expect our graduates to be active, responsible citizens."
President Penley said the goal of carbon neutrality will be achievable through a phased process that will begin with a more aggressive emphasis on conservation for the first three years. These expanded conservation efforts are expected to result in cost savings that will be redeployed to help fund the adoption of renewable energy technologies.