Candidate for Master's Degree
Graduate Program in Plant Biology and Conservation
Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden
Research Interests: Cellulosic Biofuels, Climate Change, Community Ecology, Ecosystem Services, Invasive Species, Science Education, Sustainable Agriculture.
Biofuels can help address the world’s energy-supply and climate-change problems. However, questions remain regarding the sustainability of biofuels, especially for those that use food-based feedstock crops (corn, soybeans, etc.) or which require fertile farmland and extensive agrichemical inputs (giant Miscanthus, switchgrass, etc.).
A promising possible alternative feedstock is the cultivation of native grassland perennials. Potential benefits include a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, agrichemical pollution, erosion, and competition with the food economy, while providing a more stable feedstock supply and increasing ecosystem services. The successful cultivation of grassland perennials as a biofuel feedstock begs its own set of questions, and my current research aims to answer how the frequency and timing of harvest of a native prairie mixture affects the community composition, and therefore its suitability as a biofuel feedstock.