Getting Green Science to Market: Where are the Opportunities?
MSU has a long history and a deep bench of research in the bio-based materials space. However, there has been limited success in transitioning this research to the market. Additionally, there are current challenges in the public policy and geopolitical areas which further affect both basic research and commercialization in this area.
This interdisciplinary forum will:
- address the synergies of various streams of research within the University across Ag Engineering, Microbiology, Forestry, Biochemistry, and others
- discuss the criteria for success in both a commercial and academic setting
- consider our commitment to this area in terms of both short-term and long-term outcomes and whether this fits with the long-term commercial reality
Mark Jones – Dow Chemical
Mark Jones has been the Executive External Strategy and Communications Fellow at Dow Chemical since September 2011. He spent most of his career developing catalytic processes after joining Dow in 1990. He received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the University of Colorado-Boulder doing research unlikely to lead to an industrial career and totally unrelated to his current responsibilities.
Chris Saffron – Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
Dr. Chris Saffron’s research program investigates the use of thermochemical, electrochemical, and catalytic technologies for converting plant biomass into liquid fuels, solid fuels, and higher value products. His students have developed electrocatalytic techniques for pyrolysis oil stabilization and upgrading to produce hydrocarbon fuels. Using electrocatalytic reduction, the energy upgrading of lignin-derived phenolics to form cyclohexanol and alkyl cyclohexanols is an active area of interest. Recently, his group has begun examining the regional deployment of these deconstruction and conversion technologies in small-scale biomass upgrading depots to balance the competing forces of “economies of scale” and “economies of transportation.” Sustainability analyses, including life-cycle assessment and techno-economic modeling, are performed to better design renewable energy systems and to inform public policy. His research team is currently working with numerous industrial partners as well as state and federal agencies to better understand the mechanisms controlling the productivity of these technologies and to foster strategies that alleviate the risks associated with their eventual commercialization.
Gemma Reguera – Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Gemma Reguera is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University. She is an environmental microbiologist by training but her work with microbes that couple their metabolisms via electrical signals has expanded her interests to research that explores applications for these electric microbes in bioenergy, bioremediation, and nanobiotechnology. The translational science derived from her research led her to found BioElectrica Inc., a startup that exploits microbial electrochemical activities and nanomaterials to advance waste to energy technologies while providing a training platform for students and postdocs to bridge the great divide between academia and industry.
Bjoern Hamberger – Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Dr. Hamberger received training as a chemist, but early added plant biochemistry when he learned about the vast chemical complexity of natural products plants can produce. He joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2016, and the research of his team focuses on complex, bioactive molecules compounds, including industrial biomaterials, flavor, and fragrances to pharmaceuticals, that accumulate in rare, often medicinal plants. Gaining an understanding of how these plants form the high-value natural compounds has enabled his team to begin biotechnological production. During the summer, Dr. Hamberger is a mentor of the undergraduate team representing MSU at the Synthetic Biology World-Championship, who in 2017 has won the first Silver Medal.
Andrew McColm – Spartan Innovations
Andrew McColm is the Managing Director - Venture Creation at Spartan Innovations where he directs a group dedicated to assisting MSU faculty, staff and students informing startup companies based on University innovations. Andrew has been a founder through C-level leadership on a half-dozen startup companies and was formerly the Managing Director of an early stage venture capital fund.
Co-Sponsored by the MSU Center for Interdisciplinarity. The MSU Center for Interdisciplinarity (C4I), located in the College of Arts & Letters, is an academic center of excellence for interdisciplinary activity. C4I works to maximize college and university strengths in interdisciplinary research and teaching and serve as a hub for interdisciplinary activity on campus.