UT Science Forums: Giannone discusses the future of biofuels

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Richard Giannone, a bioanalytical mass spectrometrist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has worked with a team to develop biofuels for the past several years. He’ll be discussing the future of biofuel production at this week’s Science Forum.

The Science Forum is a weekly brown bag lunch series that allows professors and area scientists to discuss their research and the general public to learn about science in a way they can understand.

The weekly presentations begin at noon on Fridays in room C-D of Thompson-Boling Arena. Attendees can bring lunch or purchase it at the arena. Each presentation is forty minutes long and is followed by a question-and-answer session. It is free and open to the public.

Giannone believes that the production of biofuels is important to the nation’s future.

“As a nation, we are far too dependent on fossil fuels,” he said. “This dependence will inevitably lead to future challenges, especially with regard to economics, the environment, and even national security.”

His research is part of the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center, which focuses on developing second generation biofuels, produced from the green part of plants rather than grain from corn or sucrose from sugar cane. These types of biofuels don’t compete with the food supply.

In his presentation, Giannone will explain the idea of biomass recalcitrance, which has to do with the way plants’ cell walls can make it difficult for scientists to obtain the sugars needed to produce biofuels. Then, he’ll introduce the different types of bacteria which can help break down those cell walls, some of which can be found in Yellowstone National Park. Finally, he will explain proteomics, which deals with identification and characterization of cell proteins, which can help answer questions about bioethanol production.

Future science forums will feature:

  • October 12: no meeting, fall break
  • October 19: Dana Dodd, president of the Appalachian Bear Rescue, will talk about Saving Orphan Bears and Returning Them to the Wild.
  • October 26: J.R. Shrute, co-director and co-founder of Conservation Fisheries Inc., will present Saving the Imperiled Fishes of Southern Appalachia.
  • November 2: J.P. Dessel, Steinfeld Associate Professor of Near Eastern History and Archaeology, will discuss The State of the Ancient State: New Finds in Southeastern Turkey.
  • November 9: Alison G. Boyer, research assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, will present Trouble in Paradise: Extinction and Conservation of Tropical Island Birds.
  • November 16: Rob Heller, professor of journalism and electronic media, will discuss A Brief Yet Incomplete History of Photojournalism.
  • November 23: no meeting, Thanksgiving break
  • November 30: Sue Hume, clinical associate professor of audiology and speech pathology, will present Good Vibrations—Care and Use of the Professional Voice.

The Science Forum is sponsored by the UT Office of Research. For more information visit research.utk.edu.

C O N T A C T :

Mark Littmann (865-974-8156 littmann@utk.edu)

G. Michael Clark (865-974-6006, clarkgmorph@utk.edu)

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