EBI Personnel Directory Long, Stephen
As Deputy Director of the Energy Biosciences Institute for its first five years (and now on the EBI Executive Committee), Dr. Stephen Long provided management and oversight for all EBI activities at the University of Illinois. Dr. Long has been with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1999 and serves there as the Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences. He is a researcher with the University of Illinois' Institute for Genomic Biology and a resident scientist with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.
Much of Dr. Long's research focuses on the effects of atmospheric change on vegetation and ecosystems, and on how certain crops might be used as biomass energy sources. He has served on committees worldwide that research global climate change and has briefed the President and Congress on this topic.
Dr. Long has been named one of the 250 most-cited authors in animal and plant biology and one of the 25 most-cited authors on global climate change. In 1998, he received the Andrew Mellon Foundation personal award.
Feedstock Production/Agronomy Program provides statistically sound information on yields, geographic variation, and agronomic requirements of sustainable lignocellulosic feedstocks and identifies agronomic procedures and feedstocks that will facilitate sustainable systems for the production of biofuels worldwide.
Current available varieties of Miscanthus and switchgrass are unsuited to semi-arid and sub-tropical/tropical climates. In order to provide a uniform basis for predicting yields for different candidate crops, this program extends the approach used to Micanthus and switchgrass viability to key tropical bioenergy crops (canes and sorghums) and to CAM crops. This program offers an effective and proven way for modeling these scenarios. The modeling tool will allow assessment at regional and operational plant scale to evaluate impacts of land conversion on water and energy balance. A user- friendly interface will let potential users access these tools easily.
This program is building tools to identify the best and most sustainable feedstocks for any given location. This is achieved by the development of state-of-the art models allowing projections of yields, yield stability and ecosystem services of second-generation biofuel feedstocks, while at the same time providing the largest database of actual measurements of these emergent crops.
Photosynthesis, which converts sunlight into stored chemical energy, occurs via several pathways, and C4 is the most efficient known. But unlike other photosynthetic pathways, it has been found vulnerable to low temperatures. However, the form of Miscanthus that is currently being widely tested by the EBI, Miscanthus x giganteus, is exceptional among C4 plants, being able to photosynthesize efficiently at almost 6 degrees C lower than corn, the most cold-tolerant of current C4 crops. This project seeks to understand the basis of this higher low-temperature photosynthetic efficiency, then how to improve low-temperature efficiency and what molecular characters to search for in breeding Miscanthus, or even energy cane for colder climates.