Faculty members to present at SEC Symposium
As a proud land-grant institution, Mississippi State embraces traditions of academic excellence and economic contributions through education, research and service to benefit local, national and international communities.
Campus representatives soon will travel to Georgia to celebrate MSU's impact, as well as similar accomplishments of the 13 sister Southeastern Conference partners at the inaugural Southeastern Conference Symposium to be held Feb. 10-12 in Atlanta.
The University of Georgia will host the gathering, and the theme will be "Impact of the Southeast in the World's Renewable Energy Future," where participants will detail the sustainable, renewable research initiatives being accomplished at each of the 14 universities -- and the impact of those initiatives on the world.
In addition to faculty presentations, the conference also will feature various visual exhibitions and a reception with SEC presidents, chancellors and provosts.
MSU will be represented by four renewable energy experts:
-- Professor Brian Baldwin, of the plant and soil sciences department, will discuss advantages of using perennial temperate grasses in farming systems.
-- Associate professor Rafael Hernandez, Texas Olefins Endowed Professor in the Bagley College of Engineering, will discuss his efforts to improve the efficiency in wastewater management and produce a biofuel from wastewater treatment operations.
-- Marshall Molen, Ergon Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and adviser for the national award-winning student teams in the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Vehicle Technology hybrid-vehicle competitions, will present details on alternative electrified vehicles and how they impact the Southeast.
-- Professor Philip Steele, of the forest products department and thrust leader for MSU's Sustainable Energy Research Center's Bio-oil Research Group, will focus on the conversion of bio-oil to petroleum-equivalent fuels for heating and transportation.
"The SEC Symposium provides us an outstanding opportunity to highlight the great accomplishments of the faculty and academic initiatives of our 14 member institutions," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.
Steele said opportunities to meet colleagues working on biofuels research often only occurs at professional conferences, so having this opportunity to be part of the first SEC Symposium should enable him and others in his field to better appreciate the work being done throughout the SEC.
Other MSU presenters agreed; the opportunity to present at the symposium honors them, their work and their students, they said.
"Being asked to speak is recognition for my work on perennial temperate grasses for biomass production," Baldwin said. "Of course, the work isn't all mine; my graduate students and undergraduate workers are intensively involved in the work that I am presenting."
For Molen, student achievements are an integral part of his work, too. MSU teams have won first place in four major alternative-vehicle competitions over the past eight years, including electric vehicles developed for Challenge X, EcoCAR and EcoCAR2.
"Our students' success in the competitions has recognized the strength of the engineering academic program at MSU, as well as the quality of students from throughout the university who participate in the numerous team activities," Molen said. "It is indeed extraordinary what they have accomplished and is a direct reflection of our outstanding young men and women.
"Once the culture was established in the early years of the competition, it has been self-perpetuating as the student leadership has continued to help mentor younger students who join the team. As the faculty adviser, I consider myself to be the team's cheerleader and I enjoy the opportunity to brag about their success."
Hernandez said the symposium represents an opportunity to highlight MSU research both nationally and internationally.
"There's good work coming from Mississippi State," he said. "We have large programs related to renewable energy, and it's a positive to students when this work is being highlighted. The symposium benefits the students at job interviews because employers see the intellectual capabilities in Mississippi."
For a conference schedule and other information, visit www.secsymposium.com.
Leah Barbour | University Relations