Scholarships Awarded, Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel Attended the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo.

Mar 02, 2017

In 2017, the National Biodiesel Board and Biodiesel Alliance project successfully executed another student program for members of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel to attend the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo. In all, 16 students attended the event, with 10 of them receiving $600 travel scholarships, and the co-chairs, James Anderson, Jennifer Greenstein, James Brizendine and Jesse Mayer receiving $800.  Scholarships were provided by the United Soybean Board, an NBB USDA grant, and the Biodiesel Foundation. The attending students were:

  • Ghana (Shyam) Paudel/ Missouri University of Science &Technology
  • Rachel DeMyers/Kansas State University
  • Devon Ronsse/Kansas State University
  • Musa Salihu Danlami/Newcastle University UK
  • Stanley Anderson/Clemson University
  • Yi-Chen Lee/Southern Illinois University Carbondale
  • Chad Gilmer/University of Iowa
  • Elizabeth Zanin/Clemson University
  • Christopher Carrie/Rowan University
  • Vinayak Pachapur/Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique
  • Jennifer Greenstein/North Carolina State University
  • Jesse Mayer/University of Nevada-Reno
  • James Brizendine/Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • James Anderson/Southern Illinois University



Scholars attended a pre-conference Biodiesel 101 session, which included a sustainability presentation by NBB’s Director of Sustainability Don Scott. Don and project leader Jenna Higgins Rose also led a welcome orientation meeting for the students. Taking a genuine interest in the NGSB program as a de facto adviser, Biodiesel Ambassador and former USDA scientist Mike Haas also helped lead the students during the conference.

The students once again showed strong engagement throughout the conference, with several of them presenting their research during a well-attended breakout session. About 13 students also presented their research in a poster session in the expo hall, with busy foot traffic. Most attended a mentoring lunch once again with experienced biodiesel scientists, a networking and mentoring highlight of the event. The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council sponsored the lunch, noted on a sign and placecards. Students were also invited to attend a meet-and-greet event with Biodiesel Ambassadors and Clean Cities Coordinators. Several connections seemed to be of value.

Listen to audio of the student session and see photo highlights on the conference blog,

In January, the KCE/NBB team surveyed members of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel who attended the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo. Of the students who responded to the survey, 100 percent said “yes” to the question: “Did the Biodiesel Conference increase your understanding of the sustainability and/or performance of biodiesel?” Overall, about 85 percent rated their experience a 5 out of 5. Every respondent also gave communication with staff before and during the event 5 out of 5.

Comments from Students

Biodiesel Image

"The biodiesel conference has and continues to be a great venue to receive feedback on my research as well as a fantastic networking opportunity for future employment.” 
–Jesse Mayer/University of Nevada-Reno

 “Having individual scientists take time to talk to me about my research was so rewarding. It was a humbling experience to listen to the impact each scientist had on the biodiesel industry and to hear their closing words of wisdom. I also had a chance to talk to New York City Councilman Costa Constantinides, Fleet Administrator Keith Kerman, and Sprague’s Steven Levy about my catalyst and about the New York plan to have 20 percent biodiesel in their transportation and housing. After talking with Steven Levy, I plan on connecting him with Rowan University faculty members to set up a research project for assessing the particulate emissions of NJ Transit transportations. The overall message I received was that if you are passionate about something, it is never too late to start that passion. My passion for renewable energy has started, it is time to get to work. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.” 
– Christopher Carrie/Rowan University

“The conference provided me with a great opportunity to learn about the entire biodiesel industry. In my research I focus on only a small detail that can impact biodiesel. The talks at the conference gave me insight into how the markets of biodiesel work, and how policies in Washington play a role in biodiesel, which are foreign topics to me. Another thing that caught my attention was the argument about food vs. fuel. I think many people are uneducated on the topic, including myself, and Don Scott gave a great talk about how biodiesel in today’s society does not compete with the current food source for millions of people around the planet. Don presented common misconceptions and solid data about how the biodiesel industry is currently independent and does not compete with food sources. After the talk I was much better informed on the issue, and how the food and fuel industries can coexist together while using the same feedstock.”
–Chad Gilmer/University of Iowa

“I have always been interested in biodiesel because of the environmental benefits that the fuel has, but because of the conference I am more aware of the economic benefits that biodiesel brings to our country. I think that this is a point that will help me explain all that biodiesel can do for our country. Another talk that I really enjoyed was Don’s on the fuel verses food facts. I have known for a long time that it was a myth but am happy to know the facts behind why. I am more interested in soybeans as a feedstock now because I know how efficient they are in terms of nitrogen usage. I feel more adequately equipped to promote the fuel and share my passion for the industry with others. This conference has impacted my career and research by helping me to realize that what I am doing has a purpose and is going to help our nation and our environment in so many ways. I have been inspired to continue on my path to graduate school in the field and hopefully join the industry in a few short years! Thank you for this opportunity and I hope to return to a future conference!”
–Elizabeth Zanin/Clemson University

“Overall, the conference has been really informative to me, it has welcomed me to the world of biodiesel and provided new insight on the sustainable energy. Given the fact that my lab focuses on [soybean] agronomic trait and biotechnology, I believe the biodiesel industry and sustainable energy will be a great investment and career for the students. I have learned a great amount of knowledge and experience during this conference, in addition, I believe this experience has benefited my career and opened up a new world. I will share the information about the Next Generation of Scientists for Biodiesel to Southern Illinois University, and see if we can attract more students into the biodiesel industry and establish a tradition of sending the students from SIUC to the annual conference.”
–Yi-Chen Lee/Southern Illinois University Carbondale

“My views on biodiesel have always been positive, but I gained a new appreciation for it because of the conference. For a scientifically simple fuel, there are many aspects to the industry I never considered. ASTM standards and testing, emission technology, engine warranties, and state and federal policy to name a few. Learning about all of these sides to biodiesel has me excited to start a biodiesel club on campus. There is no shortage of opportunity in this field for a school of engineering students and my hopes are to encourage more people from my university to go to these conferences. The impact this conference had on my research is phenomenal.”
–James Brizendine/Missouri University of Science and Technology

“The National Biodiesel Conference is an incredible experience. I appreciate learning about how the industry is currently doing, where efforts are being pushed forwards now, and listening to the people most involved. It's inspiring to hear all of the benefits of biodiesel. I like knowing numbers and bringing them back home to share, so I was very happy to learn in particular that biodiesel has 78% less lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum diesel, it supports $9.8 billion in economic activity, it reduces wastewater by 79%, and it reduces hazardous waste by 96%. I was also very impressed and enthused with the push in NYC to use biodiesel to reduce GHGs by 50%. The conference was also a great opportunity for networking and meeting others involved with biodiesel and with similar interests. The poster session went really well, and I was able to talk with several people about my specific research and more people about my overall goals. I hope for a career in the biodiesel industry once I graduate, and I think the connections gained at the conference will be invaluable. I also want to do what I can to promote the use of biodiesel. I want my city Raleigh to push for reducing GHGs using biodiesel like NYC! Emerging technologies are always interesting, but sometimes you need a bigger overview of how the industry works.”
–Jennifer Greenstein/North Carolina State University

Suggested Future Webinars

“I would recommend the 101, the ASTM, and the data dive sessions.”

“Specific methods and people to contact to promote the use of biodiesel by our cities and local communities. I'm interested in learning more about policies that encourage the use of biodiesel, too. I also think it would be useful as scientists to learn about potential routes to commercialize biodiesel-related technologies and to recognize which organizations or companies are interested in supporting and implementing different types of technologies.”

“Emerging technologies are always interesting, but sometimes you need a bigger overview of how the industry works.”

“Since most students attending are doing research I would recommend the technical talks such as the ASTM standards.”