2016 Renewable Carbon Workshop

The Mellichamp Academic Initiative in Sustainability will be hosting a one day workshop on “Renewable Carbon” at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday, September 21st , 2016, in ESB 1001.

Renewable Carbon Workshop Program

Renewable Carbon Workshop Poster

Poster Session: Research posters were presented at a Poster Session during the Renewable Carbon Workshop by the following individuals/groups:

Carbon-based fuels continue to be our primary energy source in the 21st century, accounting for more than 80% of our total energy supply. This reality exists even in light of overwhelming evidence linking byproduct CO2 emissions to unprecedented rapid global climate change. Although at times polarizing, the role and impact of carbon on our society continues to be heavily discussed in the media, in politics, and within society at large. Organized through the Mellichamp Academic Initiative in Sustainability, the Renewable Carbon Workshop is a free one-day event on the UCSB campus open to all and featuring scientific and policy presentations and discussions from both experts and students on topics related to carbon, such as recycling and converting CO2 to fuels, the use of biomass as alternative feedstocks to fossil fuels, the cost and impacts of our industrial carbon emissions, and the efficient communication and dissemination of carbon-related scientific information to the broader public. Please join us for an exciting day of discussion and learning. Registration is free.

Keynote lectures will be given by:

Johnathan Holladay, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, CTI Lead,
Energy and Environment Sector, Transportation Subsector Manager - Energy & Environment Directorate
"Recycling Waste Carbon to Distillate Fuels"
As a scientist, John has spent more than fifteen years in catalysis focused on condensed phase processing of renewable carbon for production of fuels and chemicals. These processes have led to 18 U.S. patents, numerous commercial licenses, including one practiced at the full commercial scale. At the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) he is responsible for shaping the strategic direction of our transportation portfolio, which includes bioenergy, vehicles, and fuel cell technologies. John is active in co-managing multi-laboratory consortia, including co-leadership of EERE’s Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines cross-cut.
As Associate Director of the Institute for Integrated Catalysis his role is to build on PNNL’s fundamental science base to help solve applied energy challenges. As a team we have focused our applied catalyst programs on production of distillate and mid-distillate fuels. The science focus is improving catalyst activity allowing for operation at lower processing temperatures and catalyst robustness allowing the conversion of carbon-rich waste streams, including complex wet sludges and aqueous oxygenates from industrial waste gasses, forest and agriculture residues. To further our focus on low temperature processing, beginning in 2016, he will be leading a new initiative at PNNL, with Johannes Lercher and Roger Rousseau that combines electrocatalysis and acid/base catalysis in novel reactor designs that address challenges in distributed carbon energy production.
John has served as Chief Scientific Officer for the National Advanced Bio-fuels Consortium, Chief Operations Officer for the National Alliance for Biofuels and Bioproducts, and the Chair of the Organic
Reactions Catalysis Society. ​

Matt Kanan, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Stanford University
"Carbonate-Catalyzed Carbon Dioxide Utilization"
Matt Kanan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Stanford University. His research focuses on challenges in heterogeneous and molecular catalysis with an emphasis on developing scalable CO2 utilization technologies. His group has invented “grain-boundary-rich” heterogeneous electro-catalysts for CO2 reduction to liquid fuels and carbonate-promoted C–H carboxylation reactions for commodity carboxylic acid synthesis. Matt was recently named one of the Talented 12 by Chemistry and Engineering News (2015), received the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2014), and was named a Dreyfus Environmental Postdoctoral Mentor (2012). Prior to Stanford, Matt was an NIH Postdoctoral Researcher in inorganic chemistry at MIT and completed his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Harvard in 2005. Matt studied chemistry as an undergraduate at Rice University. ​


Mahdi Abu-Omar, Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, UC Santa Barbara
"Renewable Epoxy Networks Derived from Lignin"
Dr. Abu-Omar completed his Ph.D. from Iowa State University and Postdoc from CalTech. He is the Mellichamp Professor of Green Chemistry at UCSB, and the Associate Director of the Center for Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3Bio), an Energy Frontiers Research Center. Mahdi is the Founder and President of Spero Energy, Inc., a green specialty chemicals company and a technology provider for the manufacture of flavor and fragrance renewable chemicals from biomass. He has published more than 130 original research papers in peer-reviewed journals. His research interest is in the areas of sustainability and green chemistry through the development and understanding of inorganic catalysts.​

David Auston, UC Santa Barbara, Director of the UC TomKat Carbon Neutrality Project
"The University of California Carbon Neutrality Initiative — Some Research Challenges and Opportunities”
David Auston is a Research Professor in the UCSB Institute for Energy Efficiency where he is Director of the UC TomKat Carbon Neutrality Project, and Executive Director of the Chemical Life Cycle Collaborative (CLiCC). Auston represents UCSB on the UC President’s Global Climate Leadership Council and co-chairs its Applied Research Sub-committee. He was recently designated the first UC-Wide Sustainability Champion. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the Optical Society of America, and the American Physical Society.

Eric McFarland, UC Santa Barbara, Chemical Engineering
"Fuels and Chemicals From Fossil Resources Without Carbon Dioxide"
Eric McFarland is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at UC Santa Barbara. He earned his B.S. in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering from UC Berkeley and his M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from UC Berkeley. He earned his Ph.D. from MIT and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. His research interests are in Energy, Efficiency & Sustainability. He has held management positions in several companies and was recently the founding Director of the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation and held the Dow Chemical Chair of Chemical Engineering at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Sangwon Suh, UC Santa Barbara, BREN School of Environmental Science and Management
"How to Understand the Choice of Future Technologies Under Carbon Constraints"
Sangwon Suh is a Professor in Industrial Ecology with a Ph.D. in Environmental Science & Engineering from Leiden University (Netherlands.) His research focuses on the sustainability of the human-nature complexity through understanding materials and energy exchanges between them. Over the past 20 years, he has been working on the theoretical foundations and practical applications of life-cycle assessment (LCA) and industrial ecology. Dr. Suh is a member of the International Resource Panel of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), and he was appointed as the Coordinating Lead Author of the Assessment Report 5 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


Megan Chui
"Enhancing the Reactivity of CuPMOs Towards Desired Products from Lignin Model Compounds"
Megan received her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Miami in 2012 working with Professor Carl D. Hoff. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in Chemistry in the laboratory of Peter. C. Ford working on enhancing the composition of CuPMO's towards the selective disassembly of biomass.

Abel Gustafson
"Sustainability Communication: A Critical Look at Research and Practice"
Abel Gustafson is a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Communication. His research focus lies at the intersection of social influence and public opinion of science issues such as sustainability and technology. His prior and current research projects have investigated the accuracy of climate change journalism, offered a novel theoretical explanation for the effects of sustainability communication campaigns, and have developed an innovative election forecasting model that uses patterns of internet use to predict voteshare. His research was supported by the Mellichamp Academic Initiative in Sustainability in Summer 2015.

John Henske
"Engineering Regulation in Anaerobic Gut Fungi during Lignocellulose Breakdown" 
John received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University in 2012. He is now a fifth year PhD student in Michelle O'Malley's lab researching the biomass degradation capabilities of anaerobic gut fungi. His research into regulation of biomass degrading enzymes as a function of substrate availability was supported by the Mellichamp Academic Initiative in Sustainability in 2015.​

Thuy-Ai (Bi) Nguyen
"Bottom-up Assembly of Copper Nanoclusters for Use as CO2 Reduction Catalysts"
Bi completed her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at Arizona State University in 2012 after graduating from Scottsdale Community College in 2010. She is now pursuing her Ph.D. under the direction of Professor Trevor Hayton and is in her fifth year.