The Department of Energy wants to hear from you!

A note from the Algae Foundation Board President, Dr. Ira “Ike” Levine, about how you can best be heard.

Greetings All,

Please allow me to introduce the Department of Energy BETO’s Request for Information (RFI) DE-FOA-00002413: Understanding Workforce-Development Assets and Gaps for Technical and Non-Technical Bioenergy Workforce Preparation.  

This RFI is targeting three separate stakeholder groups:

  • Category 1: Industry
  • Category 2: Education-related institutions
  • Category 3: Workforce-development or government affiliation organizations

The Algae Foundation and its affiliates, Algae Technology Educational Consortium (ATEC), Algae Academy (AA) and Algae Cultivation Extension Short-courses (ACES), ask you to please take the time to complete the RFI template response form linked below.

Why are we asking for 15 minutes of your busy day?

The Algae Foundation is dedicated to supporting all of the above stakeholders of algal-based education and workforce development training.  We see the DOE’s RFI as a significant opportunity to organize their focus for future workforce development and training efforts, programs and potential funding.

Our aim is to gather 50+ responses for each category.  Industry input, education and training requirements, skill sets and learning outcomes are key to supporting the DOE’s need for commercial responses.

Resources are allocated to those groups who show up and participate. Let’s have the algae stakeholders form a significant response pool for the DOE and show them what we need to continue to grow. 

I thank you in advance for your time, effort and dedication to all things algae.

Ira “Ike” Levine

Algae Education and the Future of Bioeconomy

How the Algae Technology Educational Consortium (ATEC) is leading the way when it comes to educating the next generation of bioeconomy professionals.

The Algae Technology Educational Consortium (ATEC) is a collaboration between the Algae Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that sees a future that embraces algae as an essential solution for a sustainable and healthy planet, the Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (DOE BETO), which seeks to advance a thriving and sustainable bioeconomy fueled by innovative technologies, and the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). Together, these organizations have worked to create a myriad of widely accessible workforce development and training opportunities in algae.

ATEC and BETO

ATEC was developed in 2015 out of the recognition that algal production will create high quality jobs for an educated workforce due to the sustainable source of biomass for bio-based products, fuel, feed and foods.

ATEC is currently in the fifth year of a $2.55 million grant from DOE BETO with the goal to produce novel community college and university courses, certificate and degree programs in algal cultivation and biotechnology, and a series of educational curricula that offers students (grades K-16+), aquaculturists, farmers, biotechnicians, and interested individuals a particular skill set enabling them to incorporate algae into their career pathways while establishing them as serious candidates for the next generation of bioeconomy positions and entrepreneurial opportunities. ATEC directly meets BETO mission goals for education and workforce development, supporting the integration of algal biomass in the bioeconomy.

ATEC in Action

ATEC seeks to serve a diverse audience in order to achieve maximum reach and truly increase scientific literacy and overall public awareness of the role that algae can and does play in the production of an array of commercial products (biofuel, feed, food, nutraceuticals, and specialty chemicals), environmental services (nutrient extraction, ocean acidification remediation, oxygen production, carbon capture, and wastewater treatment), and the potential hazards of algae (red tides, toxins, and brown tides).

ATEC Programming Includes:

  • Algae Academy – K-12 STEM kits for in-class instruction and discovery
  • Two separate community college degree, certificate, and course curricula for Algal Cultivation and Algal Biotechnology originated at Santa Fe Community College and Austin Community College, respectively
  • Algae Cultivation Extension Short-courses (ACES) – Part 1: Macroalgae & Part 2: Microalgae
  • Introduction to Algae Massive Open Online Courses (Algae-MOOCs)

Algae Academy

The Algae Academy is a K-12 STEM learning opportunity distributed to classrooms nationwide through which students develop experiments, measure algal growth, analyze data and make connections on how algal production has a positive impact on the global environment. Students learn about the essential need for sustainable resources, current concerns about future protein shortages, and how algae can be a game-changing resource in developing countries.

The goals of the Algae Academy are to excite students about the power of algae leading them towards more advanced educational opportunities offered by ATEC and potential bioeconomy career opportunities.

Applications for the 2020/2021 Algae Academy sessions will be available later this month. Contact Marissa Nalley for more information at mnalley@thealgaefoundation.org.


ATEC in Community Colleges/Universities

ATEC’s flagship programming involves community colleges and universities nationwide that are providing, or in the process of developing, algal cultivation and biotechnology certificates and degrees. Graduates of these programs learn practical applications of farming and biotechnology to develop skills for the algae industry workforce.

Santa Fe Community College – Algae Cultivation Certificate

The Algae Cultivation Certificate at Santa Fe Community College covers the basic science and technology of algae cultivation and provides students with the skills required to work in the algaculture industry or create their own algaculture business.

The first recipients of the Algae Cultivation Certificate graduated in May, 2018 with their degree in Controlled Environment Agriculture, A.A.S.

Austin Community College – Algae Biotechnology

ATEC and Austin Community College initiated an Algal-based Biotechnology Curriculum in the Fall 2017 semester.  Algal-based instruction is inserted into existing course syllabi due to similarity in techniques and instrumentation of classic bacterial and yeast coursework.  Each intro biotechnology course includes algal insertable laboratory and lecture modules.  Additionally, two, 1-week laboratory intensive courses have been developed.  Courses include:  Bioinformatics, Laboratory Instrumentation, Cell Culture Techniques, Molecular Techniques, and Biomanufacturing.


Algae Cultivation Extension Short-course (ACES)

ACES is the extension/outreach component of ATEC and is divided into two parts: macroalgae and microalgae.

ACES Part 1: Macroalgae

This first component of ACES covers macroalgae (seaweed) and is designed for those already in the aquaculture/shellfish industry seeking to learn the basic skills to grow these aquatic photosynthetic organisms.

ACES Part 2: Microalgae

This second component covers microalgae cultivation in a short-course based on a real college level courses. The original focus of this ACES section was to assist the algae biomass industry to improve the required skill set and techniques of potential and/or existing employees.


Introduction to Algae Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

The Introduction to Algae MOOC brings together some of the foremost algae experts from industry and academia to share their experience and understandings of the fundamentals of algae.

This course covers what algae are, why they are important, and why we are interested in them for both their environmental benefit, as well as their use for products. Participants explore the vast diversity of algae including the characteristics and applications of some of the main types of algae that are in commercial use today. This course was produced by ATEC and University of California, San Diego (UCSD). A second algal-MOOC, Introduction to Microalgae Biotechnology, co-produced by ATEC and UCSD is completed, accepted, and awaiting online launching.  Additionally, a third algal-MOOC, Introduction to Seaweed Biotechnology is currently being produced and scheduled for a 2021-2022 release.

Bioeconomy Careers

By offering a myriad of opportunities for individuals to engage with and advance their knowledge of algae, ATEC is strengthening workforce capabilities in the bioeconomy field.

For more information about career possibilities, take the time to explore BETO’s Bioenergy Career Map. This is an invaluable resource to learn more about jobs in algae as well as the entire field of bioenergy.

ATEC in 2020

The ATEC team works year round to continue to expand and improve ATEC programming while developing new opportunities for algal outreach and education. Our first bi-annual meeting of the year took place last month in San Diego and we are excited about what we have up our sleeves for 2020!

For more information on ATEC contact Dr. Ira “Ike” Levine, President of the Algae Foundation and Professor at the University of Southern Maine at ilevine@thealgaefoundation.org.

If you want to keep up with all things ATEC, join our newsletter and follow us on social media!

ATEC Team Spotlight: Luke Spangenburg

 It’s time to introduce another member of our #ATEC team!

Luke Spangenburg is the Director of Santa Fe Community College’s Innovation Center and Biofuels Center of Excellence. The Biofuels Center of Excellence houses the Algae Cultivation, Biofuels and Water Treatment programs while The Innovation Center hosts commercialization partnerships in food, water, energy, biotech and manufacturing with local businesses to establish new economic development in the region.

Luke is nationally recognized as a leader in the Algae and Biofuels industry and for his collaborations with educational development programs. He has current projects with the Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Labs, Sandia National Lab, Los Alamos National Labs, EPSCoR, and a variety of industry collaborations. Luke has been involved with the SFCC Alternative Fuels program since its beginning and continues to collaborate in developing new, cutting-edge programs.

In addition to being an ATEC member, Luke is also the president of New Solutions Energy, a company dedicated to integrated bioenergy solutions, and holds two patents for algal cultivation methods and systems. Luke’s knowledge of sustainable technologies, combined with his passion for the natural world, motivates all of his work.

ACES: Part 2: Microalgae

ATEC Announces Algae Cultivation Extension Short-course (ACES): Part 2: Microalgae Now Available!

This FREE Algae Cultivation Extension Short-course (ACES) is the extension/outreach component of the Algae Technology Educational Consortium (ATEC). Part 1 covered Macroalgae and Part 2 covers Microalgae.

The microalgae for aquaculture course is an online compendium of videos and online lectures chosen to give a thorough introduction into the culturing of various commercial microalgae, for those interested in the skill set and techniques required for the aquaculture industry. The course includes: a large number of videos produced by national and international programs, and guided PowerPoint presentations; including selections from the Santa Fe Community College, Introduction to Algae Cultivation online course. Offerings include cultivation and harvesting technologies, microscopy, algae species collections, nutrient media recipes, algae to fuel, carbon sequestration, food products and interviews with industry experts. There are additional chapters for the online algae culture collections, interviews and Ted Talks. There are several longer webinars and pdf documents about microalgae culture that can be downloaded.

ACES is a free on-line curriculum that covers both the U.S. perspective as well as inclusion of microalgae cultivation around the world. This course includes 148 online interviews, lectures, and instructional videos from individuals, universities, governments, NGOs and algae companies from around the world. There are also 17 links to algae collections, databases, supplemental reading, and social media.

Discover how microalgae cultivation skills can enhance your role in the aquaculture industry.

Register for FREE today!

Click here or register at the ATEC website http://www.algaefoundationatec.org/aces_intro2.html

Contact info: Dr. Stephen Gómez stephen.gomez@sfcc.edu or Dr. Ira Levine ilevine@maine.edu

This project was supported by the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office, the Algae Foundation, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

ATEC Team Spotlight

Let’s meet Dr. Philip T Pienkos, a member of the ATEC team and the Algae Foundation board.

Dr. Pienkos earned his B.S. in Honors Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin. He is currently Strategic Project Lead in the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He has more than 35 years of biotechnology experience in the pharmaceutical, chemical and energy sectors. He is a co-founder of two companies: Molecular Logix, an early stage drug discover/development company, and Celgene, a major biotech/pharma company.

He joined NREL in August, 2007 as Principal Research Supervisor to work in various aspects of cellulosic ethanol and algal biofuels production, and he has helped to established new areas for the biofuels R&D program including biological methane upgrading and waste to energy. He was promoted to Principal Group Manager in May, 2011 and refocused his efforts as Strategic Project Lead in 2018. Phil is principal investigator for two algae projects, one funded by DOE, focused on development of multi-product biorefinery concepts based on complete valorization of algal biomass, and one funded by the global mining company, BHP, to develop algal cultivation as means to remediate the water and produce biofuels at inactive mining sites.

He is heavily involved in partnership development efforts, and currently leads a small group of NREL scientists and engineers in the development of entrepreneurial skills for repurposing core technologies to expand R&D mission space. He is part of a team of algae experts from NREL and Sandia National Laboratory who worked with the Department of Energy to organize the National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap Workshop held in December, 2008 and was a contributor to the National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap document, published in May 2010, designed to be an instrument in the acceleration of the commercialization of algal biofuels.

Philip is a founding member of the Algae Biomass Organization and the Algae Foundation and has served as a member of the board of directors for both of those organizations. He has been named in Biofuels Digest’s list of the top 100 people in biofuels every year since that survey was established.

ATEC Team Spotlight

The ATEC team is comprised of seventeen members based throughout the United States who collectively have more than 100 years in algal-based education, research, and commercial experience. Let’s get to know them!

First up? Dr. Jake Nalley.

Jake is the Director of Agronomy at Qualitas Health, a Texas-based nutrition and supplements company. He manages the health and well-being of Nannochloropsis across two locations in Texas and New Mexico, focusing on driving on-spec annual production. He is also a Board Member of The Algae Foundation, helping lead the Algae Academy, ATEC’s K-12 STEM Initiative which has educated over 25,000 K-12 students nationwide. Jake completed his dual PhD in Integrative Biology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior at Michigan State University in 2016 and has a deep interest in science education and dissemination.