Bruce Babcock, BIC director, recently supported and co-sponsored the Eighth Annual Berkeley Bioeconomy Conference, held April 1-2, 2015, at U.C. Berkeley, CA.
Babcock, who is the leader of the Iowa NSF EPSCoR Energy Policy effort, saw this year’s conference as an opportunity to ensure bioeconomy research in Iowa continues even after the Iowa NSF EPSCoR grant is finished. “I thought one way to make the EPSCoR programs in energy policy sustainable was to pick the brains of smart people about what future key research topics were in the area of biofuels, bioenergy, and biorenewables policy,” Babcock said.
He tailored speaker invitations with an eye for encouraging future collaborations and projects. Babcock is the Cargill Endowed Chair of Energy Economics and professor of economics at Iowa State University.
The Bioeconomy’s Past, Present, and Future
The conference presented analyses of the biofuel sector and other renewables’ past performance and future prospects. Attendees also discussed biofuels and forestry, the global bioeconomy, and biotechnology regulation. During the sessions, Babcock presented “Land Use Changes at the Intensive and Extensive Margins” and Iowa NSF EPSCoR energy policy researcher Sebastien Pouliot presented “Willingness to Pay for E85: Evidence from Revealed and State Preferences.” Presentations and a full agenda are available on the conference website.
After seven years, the Berkeley Bioeconomy Conference lost significant funding. Fortunately Babcock provided enough support from Iowa NSF EPSCoR to give the conference one last year. “It was like a swan song for the program,” Babcock said. “They needed the support money, and I was able to tailor the invitations to meet my needs.”
As director of BIC, one of Babcock’s needs is to gather unique perspectives in order to create the best research agenda possible. “The viability of keeping research funding going at Iowa State depends on us coming up with new, innovative, and cutting-edge research proposals, projects and ideas,” Babcock said. “I put out a request for proposals (RFP) for the Biobased Industry Center for the 2015 research projects that reflected the ideas that were presented at the conference. The RFP does contain a lot richer set of ideas and projects than I would have thought of, so it did meet its objective.”
The conference was co-sponsored by Iowa NSF EPSCoR, the Giannini Foundation, the Energy Biosciences Institute, and the College of Natural Resources at U.C. Berkeley.
Article by Sara Parks. Reprinted from Iowa NSF EPSCoR