Biofuels researcher and Eisenhower Fellow Associate Professor Ben Hankamer
Biofuels researcher and Eisenhower Fellow Associate Professor Ben Hankamer
9 April 2010

A University of Queensland researcher has met with US political and business leaders to fast-track biofuel development after winning a top international fellowship.

Associate Professor Ben Hankamer from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) was awarded a 2009 Eisenhower Fellowship, one of only two in Australia and 25 worldwide.

These prestigious awards are granted to those identified as international leaders in areas of energy, technology and supply.

Dr Hankamer is a founding Director of the Solar Biofuels Consortium, a group of over 70 researchers at UQ and overseas working to maximise the development of high-efficiency microalgal biofuel production systems.

“The development of clean fuels for the future is one of the most urgent challenges facing society due to the need to address climate change and secure fuel supplies,” Dr Hankamer said.

“Using microalgae has several advantages over traditional biofuel sources, as the production systems can be located on non-arable land, eliminating competition with food production. They also have the potential to store carbon, which would help in reducing CO2 levels.”

The Eisenhower Fellowship allowed Dr Hankamer to tailor a six-week program of meetings with up to 80 researchers, UQ Senators and Members of Congress from both sides of the biofuels debate, in addition to CEOs from top industry organisations including microalgae producers, biofuel producers and transport companies.

From these meetings, he gained further insight into the most efficient methods of producing biofuels, as well as the political climate and the needs of end consumers.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield congratulated Dr Hankamer and said the fellowship would deliver long term benefits through access to high-level contacts who will facilitate further international co-operation.

“An Eisenhower Fellowship continues to deliver returns long after the recipient finishes the initial round of meetings,” Professor Greenfield said.

“Dr Hankamer now has lifelong membership of the fellows’ network, which gives him privileged access to outstanding leaders whom he can trust for advice as he works on sustainable fuels for the future.”

The Eisenhower scheme is chaired by former US Secretary of State General Colin Powell, and encompasses around 1700 fellows from a broad range of industries and occupations.

Media: Bronwyn Adams (07 3346 2134,