Beth Ahner with Algal Bioreactor

ACSF Faculty Fellow Beth Ahner (BEE) studies how plants and algae adapt to trace metals in the environment, including how they take up, detoxify, and sequester metals.  

Engineering Plants for a Cleaner Environment

September 10, 2013

Beth Ahner with Algal Bioreactor

ACSF Faculty Fellow Beth Ahner (BEE) studies how plants and algae adapt to trace metals in the environment, including how they take up, detoxify, and sequester metals. Biomolecular farming—producing specialty enzymes and proteins in transgenic plants and algae—is one current focus of her research. Her findings lead to new strategies effective in a number of sustainability arenas, from biofuels, to hydroponic farming, to cleaner water.

One of the Atkinson Center’s first Faculty Fellows, Ahner was a PI on “Improving the Stability and Productivity of Algal Bioreactors for Biofuel Production, a 2008 project funded by the first cycle of ACSF’s Academic Venture Fund. She is now at work on her third AVF-funded project, “What Causes Brown Tides?” The multidisciplinary research—a collaboration with Mingming Wu (BEE), Nelson Hairston (EEB), and John Guckenheimer (MATH)—aims to identify environmental conditions that trigger harmful algal blooms for safer water and sustainable aquatic ecosystems.

A member of ACSF’s Faculty Advisory Board (FAB) since 2010, Ahner became FAB vice chair this fall. “The AVF funding that I have received has had a real impact on my research program. I am excited to contribute back to the Atkinson Center in this small way,” Ahner remarked.