Small Algae, Big World: The Impact of Microalgae on Global Carbon Cycling and Sustainable Biofuels

LLNL Scientist(s)
Xavier Mayali ,
Ty Samo
Teacher
Erin M. McKay
Teacher's School
Tracy High School

 

Abstract:
Microscopic algae are responsible for processing roughly half the photosynthetically fixed carbon on earth (the other half comes from plants). They are responsible for the oil that we pump up from under the oceans and burn for energy. Microalgae could one day be used for making sustainable biofuels but can also be harmful if they produce toxins that hurt humans and ecosystems. This presentation will introduce the audience to the fascinating world of microalgae and discuss some of the research on this topic that is happening at LLNL. In particular, the presentation will introduce the concept that the algal microbiome (yes, algae have their own microbiome too!) has a strong influence on the fate of algal-produced carbon, and harnessing the power of microalgae and their microbiomes has the potential to change our world for the better.

Bios:

Mayali

Xavier Mayali received a B.A. in Environmental Sciences from UC Berkeley, an M. S. in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston, and Ph. D. in Oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. He is currently Deputy Group Leader in the Environmental Isotope Systems Group in the Nuclear and Chemical Sciences Division at LLNL. His research interest is in the molecular ecology and physiology of microorganisms and how they control carbon and nitrogen biogeochemistry. 

Samo

Ty Samo received A. A degrees in Liberal Studies and General Science from Solano Community College, a B. S. in Cell Biology & Biochemistry from UC San Diego, and M. S. and Ph. D. degrees in Marine Biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. He is a Staff Scientist in the Environmental Isotope Systems Group within the Nuclear and Chemical Sciences Division, working on the impacts of microbes on climate, water quality, and bioenergy production. 

McKay

Erin M. McKay is a Biology teacher at Tracy High School in Tracy, CA. She received her B. S. in Biology with an emphasis in Plant Biology and her science teaching credential from the University of California, Davis. While attending UC Davis, she interned at AgraQuest. She began teaching at Tracy High School in 2002. She also is an instructor in the Bioscience Teacher Research Academy and Biotechnology Summer Experience for high school students at LLNL.