Source: Mary Rezac, 785-532-4317, rezac@k-state.edu
Website: http://sustainable-energy.ksu.edu/REU
Video available: bit.ly/PmzMDS
Hometown connection/news tip: Satanta, Kan.; Auburn, Ala.; Fair Oaks, Calif.; Winter Haven, Fla.; Augusta and Fort Valley, Ga.; Ruston, La.; Elizabeth City, N.C.; Albuquerque and Socorro, N.M.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Downington, Villanova, University Park and Womelsdorf, Pa.; Clemson, S.C.; Columbia and Knoxville, Tenn.; Walla Walla, Wash.; and Laramie and Rawlins, Wyo.
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-1544, bbohn@k-state.edu

Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012

Going green: Undergraduates from across country spend summer at K-State exploring sustainable energy

MANHATTAN -- It's been a sustainable summer at Kansas State University for 11 students conducting research through the university's Research Experience for Undergraduates' Summer Academy in Sustainable Bioenergy.

The National Science Foundation-supported research program is offered through the university's Center for Sustainable Energy. Students from colleges and universities across the country were selected for the program based on an application process. Students from all science, socioeconomic, agricultural and engineering majors could apply -- and no previous laboratory or research experience was required. Participants received a stipend and travel funding, with room and board provided. The program ran from May 29-Aug. 3.

Faculty mentors for the program were from Kansas State University's departments of agricultural economics, agronomy, biological and agricultural engineering, chemical engineering and grain science and industry. Also serving as a faculty mentor was Mary Rezac, ConocoPhillips professor of sustainable energy, professor of chemical engineering and co-director of the university's Center for Sustainable Energy, served as project director and a faculty mentor to two students.

Research activities in the program are conducted under the guidance of the faculty mentors to advance students' state of knowledge in sustainable energy. Students participated in hands-on experiences with processing agricultural biomass, experiencing the physical environment of industrial-scale biomass processing with all its limitations and opportunities. Students also meet people who actually perform the work to produce renewable energy.

Students in the program said the program helped them better define their future career paths.

"It really helped me gain experience, especially with research," said Shelby Hill, a Kansas State University senior in agricultural economics from Satanta. "It helped me figure out a career and that I definitely want to go to graduate school and have a career in the agricultural field in agricultural economics."

Hill's faculty mentor was Vincent Amanor-Boadu, associate professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University.

"I was kind of torn between doing polymer chemistry and bioenergies," said Alex Clark, Downingtown, Pa., a student at Villanova University, Villanova, Pa., who heard about the Kansas State University summer research program from his department head. "I wanted to get a better glimpse of what it was like doing this field, so I went to this program. I've gotten a better idea as far as sustainable energy and where I want to go beyond the program."

Clark's faculty mentor was Kansas State University's Rezac.

Both Hill and Clark said one of the best parts about the program was meeting the other students and seeing their different majors all played a role in the production of sustainable energy.

While at Kansas State University, the participants also learned about the university's National Science Foundation IGERT program for students pursuing doctorates. The integrated interdisciplinary graduate program works for achieving transformative advances in the development of next-generation biorefineries.

Along with Hill and Clark, students selected for the Summer Academy in Sustainability included:

Wataru Takagi, Fair Oaks, Calif., a student at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash. Takagi worked with Kansas State University's Jason Bergtold, associate professor of agricultural economics.

Jenna Platt, Winter Haven, Fla., a student at Auburn University, Auburn, Ala. Platt's faculty mentor was Kansas State University's Deann Presley, assistant professor of agronomy.

Xavier Price, Augusta, Ga., a student at Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, Ga. Price's faculty mentor was Mary Beth Kirkham, professor of agronomy.

Allison DeNunzio, Elizabeth City, N.C., a student at Clemson University, Clemson, S.C. DeNunzio's faculty mentor was Dirk Maier, professor and head of the department of grain science and industry and director of the International Grains Program.

Jeffrey Buckel, Albuquerque, N.M., a student at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, N.M. Buckel's faculty mentor was Kansas State University's Mary Rezac, ConocoPhillips professor of sustainable energy and professor of chemical engineering.

Akeem Obe, Cincinnati, Ohio, a student at Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, La. Obe's faculty mentor was Praveen Vadlani, associate professor of grain science and industry.

Brett Sattazahn, Womelsdorf, Pa., a student at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa. Sattazahn's faculty mentor was Kansas State University's Charles Rice, distinguished professor of agronomy.

Carson Bone, Columbia, Tenn., a student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn. Bone's faculty mentor was Kansas State University's Kyle Douglas-Mankin, professor of biological and agricultural engineering.

Eric DeMillard, Rawlins, Wyo., at student at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo. DeMillard's faculty mentor was Kansas State University's Donghai Wang, professor of biological and agricultural engineering.