Campus News

Two scientists to be featured presenters at SEC Symposium

C.J. Tsai

Two UGA researchers will be featured presenters at the inaugural Southeastern Conference Symposium, a three-day event led by UGA to showcase the research, innovation and academic excellence of universities in the Southeastern Conference. The SEC Symposium will be held Feb. 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

The SEC Symposium theme, “Impact of the Southeast in the World’s Renewable Energy Future,” will explore the spectrum of renewable energy technologies, including bioenergy, solar, wind, wave/flow and nuclear.  

Raymond L. Orbach, former U.S. undersecretary for science, will give the plenary address. Keynote lecturers are Sam Baldwin, chief science officer at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, and Steven J. Mirshak, global business director-cellulosic ethanol at DuPont Industrial Biosciences. 

Researchers from all 14 member schools will speak in 11 sessions moderated by UGA faculty, most of whom are members of UGA’s Bioenergy Systems Research Institute. UGA will be represented by Joy Doran-Peterson, associate professor of microbiology and director of UGA’s Biomanufacturing and Bioprocessing Program, and C.J. Tsai, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the department of genetics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Both are members of BSRI.

Peterson’s presentation, “Biomanufacturing and Bioprocessing: The Missing Link for the Biotechnology and Biofuels Industry,” is part of a session that addresses the growing need for alternative energy workforce development and outreach in K-12 programs and centers of higher education. 

Tsai’s presentation, “Bioenergy Targets in Poplar Improvement,” will focus on her research into the use of woody biomass as a source of biofuel. Other sessions include: 

• “The Big Picture: A New Energy Economy in the Southeast, the U.S. and the World.” Moderator:  Alan Darvill, Regents Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Plant Biology; director, Complex Carbohydrate Research Center; and director, BSRI.  

• “Renewable Energy Technologies: A Spectrum of Opportunities.” Moderator: Robert Scott, associate vice president for research and executive director of BSRI. 

• “Biomass Feedstocks: Grassy and Herbaceous Crops.” Moderator: Andrew Paterson, Regents Professor and head of the Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory.

• “The Integrated Biorefinery,” a two-part session. Moderator: K.C. Das, professor of biological engineering, and Craig Kvien, professor of crop and soil sciences.

• A panel discussion, “Government, University and Industry Partnerships in Renewable Energy Policy and Practice.” Moderator: Jason Evans, environmental sustainability analyst, Carl Vinson Institute of Government. 

• “Better Use of Energy in the Built Environment: The Smart Grid and Efficiency.” Moderator: Tom Lawrence, senior public service associate, College of Engineering.

• “Energy Advances in the Transportation Sector.” Moderator: Dan Geller, public service assistant,  College of Engineering.

• “Advanced Materials for Energy Applications.” Moderator: Yiping Zhao, professor of physics and director of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center.

SEC Symposium registration now open, abstracts being accepted

Faculty, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students from all SEC schools are attending the SEC Symposium for opportunities to network with renewable energy experts from the SEC schools and industry and government representatives. 

UGA is encouraging attendance through support of registration fees. The Office of the Provost and BSRI are sharing registration costs for BSRI members. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs will match home units’ contributions for postdocs’ registration fees. Early registration ends Dec. 14.

Students are encouraged to attend. In addition, the Office of Sustainability and BSRI co-sponsored a competition for two University Ambassadors and 10 University Scholars. 

Registered attendees may submit abstracts by Dec. 14 for the SEC Symposium poster exhibition through the symposium website. A panel of judges will evaluate the posters and select first- and second-place winners from among submissions in undergraduate, graduate student and post-doctoral categories (faculty are not eligible to receive awards). Invited talks during the afternoon closing session on Feb. 12 will be selected from submitted abstracts. 

The complete program, registration and abstract information are online at