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).
- CABBI Director Evan DeLucia welcomed 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.”
- Illinois Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Andreas Cangellaris lauded the work that will be done by CABBI toward “a sustainable future for our planet with an increasing global population.”
- IGB Director Gene Robinson stated “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!”
- Illinois Vice Chancellor for Research Susan Martinis said “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.”
- Conversion Theme Leader Huimin Zhao explained how automated design will allow more time to focus on scientific analysis.
- Sustainability Theme Leader Madhu Khanna discussed 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 discussed 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 visited a greenhouse at the Illinois Energy Farm, where Illinois Assistant Professor of Crop Sciences and CABBI researcher Erik Sacks discussed breeding of Miscanthus and energycane, and later CABBI researchers received 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.