Summary of Bioenergy Activities at UNC

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					                  Energy and Environment at Carolina
                Summary of Biofuels Activities at UNC-CH

I. Introduction
        Energy and environment research, teaching, and related activities at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are promoted and facilitated in the
Institute for the Environment (Douglas Crawford-Brown, Director) and the
Institute for Advanced Materials (Joseph DeSimone, Director). The faculty in
these Institutes are housed in departments across campus largely in the College
of Arts and Sciences and School of Public Health but with significant participation
by faculty in Health Affairs, Journalism, and the Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Oversight and facilitation for integrated research and related activities in the two
institutes is overseen by the Energy and Environment Committee (Thomas J.
Meyer, Chair).
        Research focus areas within UNC-CH have been identified in Biofuels,
Solar Energy, Energy Supply, Sustainable Communities, and Near Coastal
Modeling. The Biofuels research focus area is supplemented by activities in
closely related areas. This includes significant efforts in climate change and
hydrological and biogeochemical cycles that are essential to organisms. Faculty
participating in these activities are housed in Environmental Sciences and
Engineering, Geography, Geological Sciences, Marine Sciences, and the Center
for Environmental Modeling for Policy Development.
        The major effort in Biofuels at UNC-CH exists within the Department of
Biology. Biology is a large department within the College of Arts and Sciences
consisting of 9 faculty working on different aspects of plant growth and crop
yields, mainly using the model plant, Arabidopsis. In addition, there are ~ 50
postdoctoral associates and ~10 graduate students working in this area.
        The biofuels-related research thrusts are in: i) Ecological controls on plant
biomass production, particularly in multi-species plant communities. This includes
biogeochemical constraints on plant biomass production and the ability of
pathogens and pests to inhibit plant biomass production. ii) Genetic controls on
plant biomass production, specifically developmental and hormonal control of
plant growth and the ability of pathogens and pests to inhibit plant growth. The
relevant biofuels topics for each of the faculty involving basic research in plant
biology are listed in table III.
        There are additional activities of note in the Department of Chemistry.
Chemistry is a highly integrated department with 45 faculty, over 250 graduate
students, more than 70 postdoctoral research associates, and research and
teaching in areas extending from the biosciences to nanotechnology. There is a
strong program in chemical catalysis in the Department directed toward biodiesel
production research. There are additional activities in chemical catalysis with a
nationally highlighted program in activation of carbon-hydrogen bonds towards
the development of more efficient fuels.

II. Relevant Plant Biology Research Activities
Summary                                                              Faculty

• Addressing crop yield issues using the model organism,             Plant Biology group,
Arabidopsis.                                                         Department of
• Controlling seed losses due to premature abscission, a problem     Liljegren
observed with canola.
• Controlling crop losses caused by plant pathogens.                 Dangl, Grant,
• Studying grasses that are relevant for the cellulosic production   Mitchell
of ethanol.
• Increasing plant mass.                                             Kieber, Reed, Jones

III. Relevant Chemistry Research Activities

• Production of biodiesel from cheap and renewable feedstocks        Lin
via chemocatalysis.
• Enzyme immobilization for biofuel synthesis.                       DeSimone
• Chemical catalysis in carbon-hydrogen bond activation.             Brookhart,
• Enzyme Encapsulation in PRINT nanoparticles for use in             Desimone
industrial catalysis.
• Photochemical catalysis for energy conversion.                     Meyer, Papanikolas

IV. Faculty and related information
Faculty                      Email                             Department

Jeff Dangl                        Biology
Sarah Grant                      Biology
Alan Jones                         Biology
Joe Kieber                        Biology
Sarah Liljegren                     Biology
Charles Mitchell                 Biology
Jason Reed                        Biology
Maurice Bookhart                   Chemistry
Joe Desimone                         Chemistry
Wenbin Lin                               Chemistry
Thomas J. Meyer                 Chemistry
John Papnikolas              Chemistry
Joseph Templeton                      Chemistry
Rihe Liu                           Medicinal Chemistry

V. Energy and Environment Committee at UNC - Key Contacts

Thomas J. Meyer                 919-843-8313
Douglas Crawford-Brown      douglas_crawford-                  919-966-6026

Joe DeSimone (IAM)                   919-962-2166

Institute for the Environment (IFE) - The Institute's mission is to stimulate,
coordinate and administer campus-wide research, education and outreach
activities in the area of environment, energy and sustainable development. It
does this by (i) defining core environmental issues around which campus
expertise must be developed; (ii) creating teams of faculty to guide programs of
research and scholarship on these issues; (iii) integrating research on
environment and sustainability into the lives of undergraduate and graduate
students throughout the campus; (iv) providing seed funding for specific projects;
and (v) bringing research results to bear in service to the State of North Carolina
and the nation. Its goals are to:
• Develop and administer programs of environmental study that recognize the
emergence of environment and sustainability as unique fields critical to the
development of the nation.
• Create, support and administer broadly interdisciplinary research programs that
cut across the interests of the sciences, social sciences, humanities and
professional practices on campus.
• Help the State of North Carolina and its communities address issues of
environment and sustainability by creating a home for applied research and for
the translation of research into practical solutions.
• Bring to campus leading scholars and practitioners who can engage with faculty
and students in developing innovative approaches to the solution of
environmental challenges.
•Infuse issues and methods of environmental and sustainability analysis into the
activities of all units on campus.

Institute for Advanced Materials (IAM) - The newly established Institute for
Advanced Materials, Nanoscience and Technology (IAM) is an interdisciplinary
endeavor, coordinating research efforts across the internationally recognized
strengths of UNC-Chapel Hill in polymer science, nanomaterials, and
nanobiosciences - areas critical to our future economy. Faculty and Students of
the IAM are currently drawn from the Curriculum on Applied and Materials
Sciences (CAMS), the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Computer
Science, the Department of Mathematics, and the Department of Physics and
Astronomy. Website:


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