Recap: 45th Symposium on Biomaterials, Fuels and Chemicals

Posted 7/10/23 by . Filed under Featured News, Meeting Calendar, News and Updates.

Fairfax, VA (July 10, 2023) – It was a pleasure to host the 2023 SBFC in Portland, Oregon, from April 30th to May 3rd, 2023. The symposium had a fantastic attendance of 306 attendees from government, industry, and academia representing 18 different countries.

We opened the symposium with an inspiring talk from our Keynote Speaker, Dr. John McGeehan from the World Plastics Association, who discussed how we as scientists can work together globally to accelerate technologies to address plastic pollution by recycling, upcycling, and redesign.

This year’s program contained 3 topical tracks, each with 4 sessions. The ‘Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Synthetic Biology’ track included topics highlighting work in the Agile Biofoundry, AI/ML strategies for bioproduction, metabolic engineering to target biofuels and products, and upgrading bioderived carbon precursors to hard to electrify fuels such as Sustainable Aviation Fuels. The ‘Alternative Feedstocks and Biosynthetic Materials’ track featured research on organic waste valorization, plastic upcycling, C1 feedstocks, and the production of novel biomaterials and alternative foods. Lastly, the ‘Engineering and Deconstruction of Biomass’ track included topics on engineering of biomass and recalcitrant polymers, biomass and lignin deconstruction, biomass active enzyme discovery, mechanisms, and engineering, as well as integration and scale up for lignocellulosic biomass conversion.

The symposium also included 2 sessions of student talks and Rapid Fire presentations each day before the 2 poster sessions, highlighting our next generation of researchers. We additionally hosted a special session on ‘Biofuels and Negative Emissions’ where invited industry speakers discussed their perspectives and contributions on combining carbon capture and storage with biofuel production in an engaging and interactive panel discussion. All of the sessions included in this year’s SBFC represented researchers across academia, government, and industry in current and emerging research areas towards the development of a viable bioeconomy and more sustainable future.

At the end of the Symposium, awards were presented including the 2023 Charles D. Scott Award to Badal C. Saha from the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, USDA-ARS, the 2023 Raphael Katzen Award to Sean Simpson from Lanzatech, along with awards for outstanding posters and presentation from students. It was exciting to see the excellent engagement of all attendees through the entirety of the meeting.

Overall, it was a great honor and privilege to serve as the Program Chair of the 2023 SBFC, and I am especially thankful to have worked with such an engaged and dedicated team: Kevin Solomon (Co-Chair), Davinia Salvachúa (Past Chair), and Tina Hockaday, Jennifer Johnson, Haley Cox, James Earle, and Suzi Citrenbaum (SIMB). In addition, I want to say a big thank you to the Topic Area Chairs and Session Conveners who were instrumental in inviting a great group of speakers and ensuring sessions ran smoothly, and to our sponsors BioP2P Network, INFORS HT, and KATZEN International. We are especially grateful to KATZEN for sponsoring an excellent reception following the scientific sessions that served to unite attendees and fostered many networking opportunities. I am very much looking forward to the 46th SBFC in Alexandria, VA April 28 – May 1, 2024, where the Program Chair will be Kevin Solomon and his Co-Chair will be Ben Woolston. If you would like to be part of the organization or provide any input for the upcoming 2024 SBFC, please contact Kevin Solomon (kvs@udel.edu).

I hope to see everyone again next year in Alexandria!

Carrie Eckert
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
2023 SBFC Program Chair

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