New generation of scientists experience biodiesel conference

By | March 09, 2011

Among the seasoned attendees of the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo this year, some younger faces dotted the rooms. Eleven college students in various fields of scientific pursuit attended the conference, thanks to scholarships provided by the United Soybean Board, Ohio Soybean Council and National Biodiesel Board. 

The students are all members of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel, a virtual community of biodiesel supporters at colleges and universities across the nation. 

Rao Kondamudi, a materials science and engineering doctoral candidate at the University of Nevada-Reno, said he appreciated the opportunity to network with “big shots” of the industry, including leading scientists.  

“It was also great to learn that giants in U.S. industries such as Ford, Disneyland and New York City are embracing biodiesel,” Kondamudi said. “This information definitely gives the next generation hope for pursuing biodiesel. I am more confident than ever that I can find the right job that suits my passion.”

During the conference, the students met with some of the leading biodiesel scientists at a networking luncheon, including NBB technical director Steve Howell; Bob McCormick, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Mike Haas, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Kyle Anderson, NBB; Gina Clapper, American Oil Chemists’ Society; Scott Fenwick, ADM; and David Slade, Renewable Energy Group Inc.  
 “These students are the future scientists who will develop and improve energy solutions, and bringing them into the biodiesel community now is a small investment that could yield huge returns,” said Don Scott, NBB director of sustainability. 

Led by the NBB, the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel formed last year to demonstrate and grow support for biodiesel among tomorrow’s scientific leaders. Students from a wide variety of colleges and universities have signed a declaration of support for the fuel, which is America’s first and only commercially available advanced biofuel.

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