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Café Scientifique: "Alternative Landscapes: How Biofuels Production is Changing the Planet"

Date: 01/15/2013

Time: 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Location: Bryant Lake Bowl, Minneapolis

Cost: $5-$12


Are biofuels the answer to our energy prayers or the key to society's downfall in the form of ecological devastation and a dwindling global food supply? How will the shift to biofuel crops and production systems change our landscape, now and in the future? John Sheehan, scientific program coordinator for biofuels and the global environment at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, will lead us in a timely discussion about the impacts of biofuels production on a local and global scale. Sheehan's work focuses on the multifaceted question of biofuels and their sustainability as a future energy source, including social, political and environmental aspects of the biofuels transition.

Sheehan joined the University of Minnesota in February 2009, after spending nearly two decades working on biofuels. For 17 years, he worked as a project manager and analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. Initially trained as a biochemical engineer, he quickly developed an interest and expertise in the life-cycle assessment of biofuels. His published works include groundbreaking studies on the impacts of biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol technology. While at NREL, Sheehan also led research on the production and conversion of algae to biofuels, a technology now receiving a great deal of attention. His 1998 report summarizing the Department of Energy's algae research is widely cited. In 2007 and 2008, Sheehan was the vice president of strategic planning and sustainable development at LiveFuels, Inc., an algae startup company in Menlo Park, Calif.

Sheehan grew up in Philadelphia, but has spent most of the past two decades in Colorado, where he and his wife raised their two sons. He is passionate about education, having spent 12 years as a three-times-elected member of a local Colorado school board. He is an amateur philosopher as well—an interest he indulges in as part of his sustainability studies.


  • Name: Leah Peterson
  • E-mail: pete1313@umn.edu
  • Sponsored by: Bell Museum of Natural History


Bryant Lake Bowl is located at 810 West Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN .

Street parking is available, as well as parking in adjacent lots. Map & Directions

Reservation Information:

Reserve tickets in advance online

More information: http://www.bellmuseum.umn.edu/ForAdults/CafeScientifique/index.htm

Disability Options: To request disability accommodations, please contact [name, department, e-mail address, phone number].

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