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Robert Scott

UGA will lead inaugural SEC Symposium on renewable energy

The inaugural SEC Symposium, to be led by UGA, will be held Feb. 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. The theme of the symposium is “Impact of the Southeast in the World’s Renewable Energy Future.” Participation is open to UGA faculty, staff and students.

The SEC Symposium is organized by SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference. Through SECU, the Southeastern Conference sponsors, supports and promotes collaborative higher education programs and activities involving administrators, faculty and students at its 14 member universities. 

“It is an honor for UGA to lead the first SEC Symposium,” said Provost Jere Morehead, who is SEC Symposium liaison to the SEC Provosts. “The symposium is an important opportunity to provide up-to-date information about renewable energy technologies and to share research not only with SEC universities but with the public, state and U.S. policymakers as well as potential international partners.” 

The SEC Symposium will address a significant scholarly issue that spans the range of disciplines represented by the Southeastern Conference’s 14 member universities, said Robert Scott, associate vice president for research, and executive director of UGA’s Bioenergy Systems Research Institute. Scott serves as chair of the UGA Symposium local organizing committee. 

 “Two closely related global crises help define the human condition at the beginning of the 21st century,” Scott said, citing issues of unsustainable natural fossil fuel extraction accompanied by increasing competition for remaining stores and conversion of this sequestered carbon into greenhouse gases.  

He said that resource surveys show that the Southeast is well positioned to have an impact on the world’s renewable energy future through biomass-derived renewable energy as well as localized production of solar and wind energy. 

UGA’s proposal for the first-ever symposium topic was selected by the SEC presidents and chancellors from proposals on a variety of topics that showcase SEC schools’ academic excellence and underscore their educational and economic contributions to the vitality of the region, nation “This academic conference will showcase the importance of efforts at all SEC member institutions in the renewable energy area and provide the context for how that work fits into the global effort toward a sustainable energy future,” Scott said.

Over the course of the three-day symposium, UGA faculty will moderate 11 sessions with presenters and panelists from all SEC member schools on a range of renewable energy topics: the new energy economy, renewable energy technologies, education and outreach, grassy and woody biomass feedstocks, the integrated biorefinery, environmental sustainability, energy in the built environment, renewable energy in transportation and advanced materials for energy applications. The closing session will feature invited talks from submitted abstracts. 

An SEC Presidents, Chancellors and Provosts Reception, with remarks from UGA President Michael F. Adams and Provost Morehead, will cap the first day.

The SEC University Showcase will provide an opportunity for member schools to interact with symposium attendees and promote their institutional strengths, especially in the area of renewable energy.

A poster exhibition will allow participants to present their research in renewable energy, and awards will be given to the best posters submitted by undergraduate, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. The SEC university with the most undergraduate students in attendance will receive the Excellence in Student Attendance Award.   

More information on the agenda, registration and abstract submission is online at

Undergraduates can compete to attend symposium 

A competition co-sponsored by the Bioenergy Systems Research Institute and the Office of Sustainability will select UGA’s University Ambassadors and Scholars for the inaugural SEC Symposium in February. 

This competition is open to UGA undergraduate students who meet the eligibility criteria.

The two UGA University Ambassadors selected will receive symposium registration, travel and hotel accommodations at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, all compliments of the Southeastern Conference. 

The 10 UGA University Scholars selected will receive free registration to attend the SEC Symposium. 

Applications are open to current UGA undergraduate students with a 3.0 minimum GPA. The application and video submission deadline is Nov. 27. Competition details and the application are online at 

For more information, contact the Office of Sustainability, or 706-542-1301.