Public Release: 

Former ASPB president leading sustainable bioenergy education project

Rick Amasino receives $4.7 million from USDA

American Society of Plant Biologists

ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Richard Amasino, former president of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), has received a nearly $4.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to strengthen K󈝼 education related to sustainable bioenergy production.

Amasino and co-Principal Investigator Hedi Baxter Lauffer, who are both at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW), will develop a partnership involving UW researchers, students and faculty at the College of Menominee Nation (CMN), and K󈝸 educators in northern Wisconsin to prepare rural youth for bioenergy- and sustainability-related careers. The project, which is known as POSOH--meaning "hello" in the Menominee language--will also connect researchers at UW and CMN.

The multicultural education model of POSOH will embrace learning both traditional (from Native American collaborators) and scientific ways of understanding sustainability; this includes recent developments from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), housed at UW, and the Sustainable Development Institute, based at CMN. The educational aspect of this project will emphasize what being carbon-neutral means and the fundamental concepts related to what is typically called the carbon cycle.

"We have a unique opportunity with this grant to bring together a combination of educators, keepers of traditional knowledge, and scientists to learn collectively about sustainability from multiple perspectives," explained Lauffer. "Through this collaboration, we will develop learning resources that integrate scientific approaches with traditional ways of knowing so that students can recognize the value and relevance of culturally learned knowledge in the scientific context."

Amasino is distinguished professor of biochemistry at UW and recently served as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor, recognizing his long-standing commitment to undergraduate education. He is also education and outreach coordinator for GLBRC. Amasino is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of ASPB.

Lauffer is director of the Wisconsin Fast Plants program, a science education program that uses easy-to-grow rapid-cycling plants related to cabbage and broccoli as a model organism for research and educational use.

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ASPB is a professional scientific society, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, devoted to the advancement of the plant sciences worldwide. With a membership of nearly 5,000 plant scientists from throughout the United States and more than 50 other nations, the Society publishes two of the most widely cited plant science journals: The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology. For more information about ASPB, please visit http://www.aspb.org/. Also follow ASPB on Twitter @ASPB.

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