CABBI Celebrates Official Launch with Talks, Tours, Science Meeting

The Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) officially launched as a new U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Center with a celebration on Feb. 1, 2018, at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB), followed by  a science meeting on Feb. 2 at the I Hotel and Conference Center.

More than 100 scientists and staff from Illinois and its 17 partner institutions — as well as government and campus dignitaries including Chancellor Robert J. Jones — attended the Feb. 1 celebration, which was emceed by CABBI Director Evan H. DeLucia, the G. William Arends Professor of of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Baum Family Director of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE).

DeLucia welcomes everyone to the opening festivities. “We are so excited to begin the push forward to a vibrant bioeconomy based on plant products — which will enhance the economic and ecological resilience of U.S. agriculture.”

IGB Director Gene Robinson: “The work we will be doing over the next five years will have a major, lasting impact on our nation’s energy, economy, and security. We already have people in the labs right here at IGB; the work has begun!”

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois 13th District, a supporter of the 857-page proposal the University of Illinois and 17 partner institutions submitted in 2016 to the U.S. Department of Energy, offers congratulations on landing the $115 million grant.

Illinois Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Andreas Cangellaris lauds the work that will be done by CABBI toward “a sustainable future for our planet with an increasing global population.”

Illinois Vice Chancellor for Research Susan Martinis: “Illinois has long been one of the Department of Energy’s strongest academic partners, and CABBI has strengthened those ties as the U.S. seeks answers to fuels of the future.”

Visiting scholars check out the IGB labs and core facilities where CABBI postdocs and graduate student researchers will do their research.

Visiting researchers get a look at the Illinois Biological Foundry for Advanced Biomanufacturing (iBioFAB), a core element of the CABBI Conversion Theme.

DeLucia offers an overview of CABBI and its place in the DOE Bioenergy Research Center space: “Our vision is to harness advances in biology, computational science, and ecology to lay the foundation for a vibrant, profitable, and sustainable bioeconomy, focusing on bioenergy and bioproducts derived from plants.”

Conversion Theme Leader Huimin Zhao explains how automated design will allow more time to focus on scientific analysis.

Sustainability Theme Leader Madhu Khanna discusses how that theme will examine ecosystem, land use, and economic viability and resilience to determine the best crops and products to produce.

Feedstocks Theme Leader Stephen Moose discusses the way newly engineered grasses will be developed to increase yield efficiency, storage of carbon in stems, and even resiliency such as more tolerance to cold.

Visiting scholars check out a greenhouse at the Illinois Energy Farm, where Illinois Assistant Professor of Crop Sciences and CABBI researcher Erik Sacks discusses breeding of Miscanthus and energycane.

Visitors examine the new biomass boiler at the Illinois Energy Farm.

Visiting CABBI scientists get an overview of the Illinois Energy Farm — and the projects already housed there — from Illinois Associate Professor of Plant Biology and CABBI researcher Carl Bernacchi.

CABBI researchers get a tour of the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL), still under construction at Illinois. Once open in May 2018, IBRL will serve as a site where bench-scale processes may be scaled up significantly to demonstrate their usefulness to industry.

CABBI Director DeLucia offers a champagne toast for the CABBI launch.

CABBI scientists begin their kickoff meeting on Feb. 2, 2018.

CABBI Feedstock Theme members discuss first-year research objectives.

CABBI Conversion Theme members discuss first-year research objectives.

CABBI Sustainability Theme members discuss first-year research objectives.