In summer 2023, the Bioprocessing Separations Consortium hosted the first Bioenergy Bridge to Career Program Workshop, kicking off an event that will continue annually for two more years.

The event was hosted online by all six Consortium laboratories – Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Lawrence Livermore Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Argonne National Laboratory – over the course of July and August. The workshop was held for undergraduate students from a range of universities to generate interest in the field of bioenergy. The workshop took place over four Fridays, with each session being led by a different national lab or two.

Bioenergy Bridge to Career agenda screenshot

Download Workshop Agenda

Day 1 – Introduction to Bioenergy & the Bioprocessing Separations Consortium

Friday – July 14

The first workshop, hosted by LANL and NREL focused on introductions to the topics of biomass, bioenergy, and separations. NREL’s Manar Alherech gave a compelling talk on the remarkable potential of biomass fuels but also highlighted that biomass separations yield other compounds that are useful, from synthetic foods to biodegradable plastics, and much more.

Day 2 - Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit

Friday – July 21
Host: LBNL

The second workshop, led by LBNL’s Laleh Coté and Julio Jaramillo, contained a detailed breakdown of “one-pot” bioseparations and their downstream products. Following the learning block, a panel of former interns relayed their experiences at the lab, ending their message with the same encouraging advice, “Apply, apply, apply!”

Day 3 – Computer Programming in Science and Machine Learning Activity

Friday – July 28

The third workshop focused on the data science aspects of bioenergy work, including molecular dynamics, simulating the motion and interactions of molecules, and using machine learning to design new materials and identify solvents that can separate out the usable carbons needed for fuels. Then Michael Whetstone of ORNL led the students in an interactive machine learning exercise.

Day 4 – Life Cycle Analysis and Maximizing Your Digital Presence Impact

Friday – August 4
Host: Argonne

The last workshop was hosted by Argonne. In the technical block, Argonne’s Energy Systems Analyst Pahola Thathiana Benavides, showed Argonne’s signature software for modeling life-cycle analysis. Then students met with individual researchers in small groups, and the workshop ended with a practical lecture by Argonne University Student Program Lead, Robert Schuch, discussing the in’s and outs of applying for an internship program at a national lab.