A leading researcher in the field of algal-based jobs spoke with a group pf Florida Polytechnic University students and employees Aug. 13.
Dr. Ira Levine, the president and board chair of the Algae Foundation shared information about his organization’s work in developing curriculum related to the growing and utilization of algae. The presentation was held in the university’s Innovation, Science and Technology Building on the main campus in Lakeland. Levine, who is also a professor of natural and applied science at the University of Southern Maine, combines his academic expertise with more than 25 years of experience in algal farming, cultivar enhancement and product development.
Levine spoke about his foundation’s Algae Technology Education Consortium, which recognizes that as the algal production industry grows, so will the demand for researchers, scientists and engineers. The field is quickly generating the need for careers like algae farming, biotechnology and data analytics.
Some of the many benefits of algae include biofuel production, carbon dioxide consumption, wastewater purification – all of which will generate high-quality jobs for an educated workforce.
“This type of curriculum is socio-economically relevant, and that’s what we want,” said Melba Horton, assistant professor of biology at Florida Poly, who spearheaded the effort to bring Levine to campus.
Levine feels Florida Poly has the ability to become a leader in the Southeast when it comes to algal expertise.
“You have a new campus. You have new programs and degrees, and you have infrastructure and the willingness to experiment,” said Levine. “You have a singular opportunity to carve out a niche as a leader in algal culture engineering.”
The Algae Foundation is in the third year of a four-year program funded by the Department of Energy with a focus on developing algal-based education and bioeconomy workforce training.
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