Sustainability through Science
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Louisiana State University, and the University of Kentucky, representing the EPSCoR states of Louisiana and Kentucky, formed an integrated partnership for the rational design of lignin-based chemicals and advanced materials. These institutions were awarded funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the fall of 2016 for the four-year EPSCoR Track 2 RII Project, Assembling Successful Structures: Lignin Beads for Sustainability of Food, Energy, and Water Systems.
An interdisciplinary team of chemists, materials engineers, chemical engineers, biological engineers and agricultural engineers will, through research, address the challenges of lignin chemistry for sustainability using a bi-directional approach that relies on the complementary skills and research infrastructure of the institutions. In this approach, lignin mimetic oligomers (assembled from lignin monomers, or "beads") serve as a link between lignin monomers and natural lignin for the design of lignin deconstruction to desired value-added products and functional materials interfaces. Research capacity will be increased through a coordinated research structure that strengthens existing expertise and develops new research partnerships and opportunities, the mentoring of early career faculty, and the broader engagement of the institutions in the synergistic research themes of this proposal. The impact of the research will be maximized through education, outreach, and workforce development that link agriculture, science, and sustainability. The outreach education component on this project is to develop and conduct outreach activities and curricula to integrate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education via the science of plant building blocks and sustainability in the context of Food, Water, and Energy Systems into secondary agricultural education classes, 4-H programs and other educational avenues.