GLBRC Education & Outreach NewsletterJanuary 2014
Winter Greetings!

Read below for news and updates related to our education and outreach activities over the last few months, including summer professional development opportunities and new education resources.
Apply Now: Research Experience for Teachers   
We are now accepting applications for our 2014 Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program, June 16 - August 1. RET participants spend seven weeks conducting research in GLBRC labs and develop related education materials to bring back to their classrooms. Included is a $7000 stipend. We we are recruiting three teachers to work on the following projects:
  • Yeast Biodiversity, Ecology and Biotechnology: Join the Yeast Exploration and Analysis Science Team (YEAST) to investigate the evolution of wild yeast species and work to discover strains that could produce better biofuels. 
  • Improved Microbes for Efficient Biofuel Production: Join the GLBRC Experimental Fermentation Laboratory and assist with cutting-edge research to develop new strains of microbes that efficiently ferment biomass into biofuels.   
  • Design of Bio-derived Gasoline Fuels (Engine Research): Join the Engine Research Center and test how various biofuels affect engine performance.
Visit our RET program page for full descriptions of the 2014 projects and online application.

Application deadline: March 17
Apply Now: Bioenergy Institute for Educators    

We are now accepting applications for our 2014 Bioenergy Institute for Educators, June 16 - 21. Educators spend six days on the UW-Madison campus meeting with GLBRC researchers, getting hands-on experience with education materials, and developing classroom materials to bring back to their students. Included is a $500 stipend. Join us and enjoy:

  • Interaction with scientists, engineers and education researchers
  • Tours of bioenergy labs and field sites
  • Engagement with materials for teaching bioenergy concepts
  • Time for reflection and collaboration with colleagues
  • Support for adapting education materials with your students 

Teams of three to four educators (teachers, curriculum coordinators, etc.) encouraged to apply. Visit the program page for for more information and online application.  


Application deadline: March 31

You can help GLBRC scientists investigate yeast evolution and discover new species of yeast in your backyard! The Wild YEAST (Yeast Exploration and Analysis Science Team) Program is collecting and analyzing samples of wild yeast from across the globe. Participants can send in samples, such as soil, leaves, bark, etc, and help scientists discover new species of yeast that could be used to make better biofuels. Professor Chris Hittinger's lab at UW-Madison uses powerful modern genetic tools to investigate natural variation in wild yeast and their evolution. 

Check out the WILD Yeast page for more information about this project and instructions for sending in samples.  
GLBRC and the Aldo Leopold Nature Center (ALNC) partnered to hold a series of events and outreach activities in November centered around the theme of sustainable bioenergy production. 
Restoring prairies may lead to new sources of energy.
QUEST Wisconsin featured a story about the partnership that highlighted some of the connections between restoring native prairie ecosystems and producing sustainable bioenergy. In the article, John Greenler, GLBRC Director of Education & Outreach, describes how native grasslands can support biodiversity, sequester carbon and produce bioenergy.
CB2E Biomass to Ethanol Classroom Scale-up  
Tom Martinez, Biotechnology and AP Biology teacher at Glenbard East H.S. in Lombard, IL, shared a creative variation on the CB2E: Biomass to Ethanol lab. After completing the Fermentation Challenge lab, students in his biotechnology class worked in teams to select and test biomass options that they predicted would produce the most ethanol. Then they scaled up the conversion process, running it in a mini-fermenter rather than a test-tube. The basic recipe combined 12 grams of biomass in 600mL of water. The cellulase enzyme volume was increase to 3mL and 12g of yeast were used in fermentation. Otherwise the protocol required little modification. 
Students ran a scaled-up version of the CB2E lab protocol with mini-fermenters.
Students selected a range of biomass options, including sawdust, bamboo, cotton, and cardboard. Final ethanol readings ranged from less than 0.5 to over 1.5 percent, and the group with the most ethanol won a prize. Students were highly engaged in seeking solutions to this open-ended problem. The activity provided an excellent opportunity to examine some of the real engineering challenges associated with scaling up biofuel production, such as basic cost benefit analysis and identifying the energy inputs and outputs of the process.


Have a creative adaptation of a GLBRC activity? Share it with us! Email:
Upcoming Events & Professional Development Opportunities

For details on the events below and recaps of previous events, please visit our event blog.    

March 7-8
MSTA Conference,
Lansing, MI: 

GLBRC partners will present adaptations hands-on bioenergy lessons for online classrooms.

March 13-15
WSST Conference, Appleton, WI:

GLBRC staff and partnering educators present at three sessions.

April 3-6
NSTA National Conference,
Boston, MA:

GLBRC will present "CB2E" Biomass to Ethanol lab activity.

GLBRC Research Highlights


More to Biofuel Production than Yield


GLBRC researchers recently compared three common biofuel crops to assess each one's environmental benefits. Methane consumption, pest suppression and bird populations were highest in perennial grasslands, and these benefits intensified when grasslands were located near other grass habitats, suggesting that coordinated land use plans may also play an important role in future bioenergy research and policy. Read more



Renewable Chemical Ready for Biofuels Scale-up


Using a plant-derived chemical, GLBRC researchers have developed a process for creating a concentrated stream of sugars ripe with possibility for biofuels. With support from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the team will begin scaling up the process later this year. Read more    



Discovery of New Enzyme Could Yield Better Plants for Biofuel 


Plant scientists at GLBRC have identified a new gene responsible for producing a previously unknown enzyme that is central to lignin synthesis. The breakthrough, published in Science, could improve the conversion of cellulosic-or non-food-biomass to biofuels. Read more  



With New Yeast Strain, One-step Ethanol Process Takes Off


GLBRC scientists are developing new yeast strains capable of accelerating the process of converting cellulosic plant biomass to ethanol. GLBRCY0, a special strain of heat and stress-resistant yeast, significantly shortens the time needed for ethanol processing. Read more


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GLBRC is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy