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September 19, 2013

Jonathan Trent: A Space-Time Guide to a Sustainable Future

Jonathan Trent
Not only does Jonathan Trent grow algae for biofuel, he wants to do so by cleansing wastewater and trapping carbon dioxide in the process. And it's all solar-powered. - TED 2012


Dr. Jonathan Trent will discuss how today’s teens and 20-somethings will lead the global imperative to imagine, engineer and deliver exciting, environmentally responsible energy solutions. In the process, you will be transported to the year 2033, as he shares possible methods by which humanity will harness and generate energy for industry, habitat and recreation.

Recording of Jonathan Trent's Presentation in 5 parts


Dr. Jonathan Trent invented OMEGA to grow oil-producing algae on municipal wastewater and is leading the multidisciplinary OMEGA team to test the feasibility of the OMEGA concept. Dr. Trent’s previous research focused on astrobiology and nanotechnology using extremophiles. Extremophiles are organisms adapted to live in the most extreme environments on earth and his studies of their lifestyle and adaptations have provided insight into how extremophies adapt to live in near-boiling sulfuric acid and how their protein structures can be used to construct robust, self-assembling, genetically versatile tools for nanotechnology. His nanotechnology has been applied to developing enzymes arrays to access the sugars in cellulose for making biofuels.

Jonathan Trent at TED June 2012: Energy from floating algae pods

After receiving his Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Dr. Trent spent six years in Europe at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Germany, the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and the University of Paris at Orsay in France. He returned to the USA to work at the Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine at Yale Medical School for two years before establishing a biotechnology group at Argonne National Laboratory. In 1998 he moved to NASA Ames Research Center to be part of NASA’s Astrobiology program and established the Protein Nanotechnology Group in 1999. In addition to working at NASA, he is an Adjunct Professor in the Dept. of Biomolecular Engineering at UC Santa Cruz and is a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. In 2006, Dr. Trent received the Nano50 award for innovation in nanotechnology. His work on biofuels was initially supported by and is currently supported by the California Energy Commission and NASA ARMD.  

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