Expanding the Frontiers of Biofuels: Algae’s Rise as an Alternative Energy Source

Thursday, November 19th  |  12pm – 1:30pm

Dr. Melissa Roth

Research Biologist

Dept. of Plant & Microbial Biology

UC Berkeley

Dr. Sara Calhoun

 Postdoctoral Fellow

Joint Genome Institute

Berkeley Lab

Algae are more than just the gooey stuff at the bottom of your fish tank. Algae can be used as a sustainable alternative energy source. At this Midday Science Cafe, you’ll learn how studying the regulation of photosynthesis and metabolism of algae — the process and rate at which sunlight and carbon is used to produce energy — can help provide green strategies for biofuels and bioproducts. In addition, you’ll learn how scientists use genome sequencing to characterize algae and select for traits ideal for bioenergy and biotech applications

Dr. Melissa Roth

Dr. Melissa Roth is an interdisciplinary physiologist and ecologist studying photosynthetic organisms, symbiosis and global change. She is interested in how the environment shapes life, in life that shapes the environment. Her research seeks to understand how dynamic abiotic factors such as light, temperature, and nutrients affect organisms and their biology. Melissa leads a small group at UC Berkeley that focuses on how algae sense, respond and adapt to a changing environment with applications towards using algae for sustainable development of bioproducts and biofuels. Her group uses a variety of approaches from molecular biology to laboratory experiments to field studies to investigate ecological factors and provide solutions to mitigate environmental problems. Melissa is a two-time US National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow. Melissa loves being immersed in nature, adventuring with her family, and experiencing the world through the eyes of her kids.

Dr. Sara Calhoun

Dr. Sara Calhoun is a postdoctoral bioinformatics researcher in the Fungal and Algal Genomics group at the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) researching algae for their potential as biofuel production strains. At the JGI, she collaborates on large-scale projects with researchers across the world to sequence the genomes of novel algal strains. With computational tools, she analyzes diverse datasets from genomics, metabolomics, and transcriptomics to understand regulation and metabolism in algae. Prior to joining the JGI, she received a BS in bioengineering from University of Washington and a PhD in biophysics from UC San Francisco. For her PhD studies, she developed a method to predict the function of unknown genes in microbes. Outside of work, she enjoys attending ballet classes, hiking, and playing with her cat.
Brought to you by UC Berkeley’s Science at Cal and Berkeley Lab’s Government & Community Relations Office, “Midday Science Cafe” is a new virtual series that highlights compelling and complementary scientific research from both institutions. Grab your lunch and join us for some great science and discussion; questions are encouraged! This webinar will be recorded. If you require captioning to access a pre-recorded event, please contact Dione Rossiter at scienceatcal@berkeley.edu. Please expect 7-10 days for captioning to be provided.

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