The 34th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals, organized by Society for Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology, was held April 30- May 3, 2012, in New Orleans, LA. The conference brought together students, researchers, and representatives from industry, academia, and governments. Over 700 attendees heard presentations in the topics of Plant Science & Technology; Biomass Supply & Sustainability; Biomass Physicochemical Analysis; Biomass Recalcitrance; Pretreatment & Fractionation; Enzyme, Bacterial, Yeast & Fungal, and Algae Science & Technology; Biobased Chemicals; Emerging Biofuels; Bioprocessing & Separations Technology; and Biofuels & Biorefinery Economics & Commercialization. This year included three parallel tracks, comprising of 108 oral presentations. Three additional evening sessions were also offered with either poster exhibition or special discussion topics.
It was truly an international meeting with 35% of the attendees from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chili, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Outside the U.S., the greatest delegation came from Brazil and Korea with about 45 attendees from each country. The total attendance for the meeting was 751.
This meeting has always been a meeting attended by graduate students and their advisors, and this year was no exception. 155 students attended and gave excellent presentations for a captive audience. One of the highlights of the conference was the two poster sessions that were held on Monday and Tuesday evening, when students presented their work on 158 posters.
On Wednesday evening, a special topic titled US & International Bioenergy Research Center Updates was held. This session was well attended and highlighted some of the research goal and process together with management principles and coordination efforts of bioenergy centers around the world. Centers from United Kingdom, Japan, and the U.S. were among the presenters.
The organizers of the meeting honored two individuals with awards. Dr. Jens Nielsen from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden received the Charles D. Scott Award and Mr. John Ferrell of the U.S. Department of Energy received the Raphael Katzen Award. The CD Scott Award recognizes individuals who have made distinguished contributions to enable and further the use of biotechnology to produce fuels and chemicals, and the Katzen Award recognizes individuals who have made distinguished contributions to enable and further the deployment and commercialization of biotechnology to produce fuels and chemicals. Dr. Nielsen is a well respected research professor and entrepreneur who have published over 330 research papers and is an inventor of more than 50 patents. Mr. Farrell has been actively involved with the advancement of feedstock supply system and energy crop development and as well as a champion of the Billion Ton Study, which provides the foundation for recent and future United States bioenergy assessments.
Two student awards to the best posters were also handed out. Christine Roche from University of California at Berkley won for her work on engineering filamentous fungi for increased production of lignocellulose-derived lipids. Keith Gourlay from University of British Columbia won for his work on the potential application of substructure-specific carbohydrate binding molecules to track changes in cellulose surface morphology during the initial stages of hydrolysis.
Special Topic Summary
A special topics session was held at the 34th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals, organized by Society for Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology, was held April 30- May 3, 2012, in New Orleans, LA. This year’s topic was titled US & International Bioenergy Research Center Updates. This topic was first introduced in 2010 and during the last two years bioenergy research centers and institutes continue to focus on developing fundamental knowledge and applied technology for production of biomass-derived fuels and chemicals. Invited speakers from the three U.S. Department of Energy bioenergy research centers, the privately funded Joint BioEnergy Institute, the United Kingdom Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s Sustainable Bioenergy Center, and Japan Biomass Technology Research Center enlightened the audience of their present research goals and progress over the last couple years. Dr. Angela Karp (U.K.), Dr. Kinya Sakanishi (Japan), Dr. Paul Gilna (BioEnergy Science Center), Dr. Blake Simmons (Joint BioEnergy Institute), Dr. Timothy Donohue (Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center), and Dr. Chris Somerville (Energy Biosciences Institute) also participated in a panel discussion to discuss the future fate of bioenergy and coordinating efforts.