Oregon State University has named John Talbott as the new director of the Western Region Sun Grant Program.
He will oversee Sun Grant operations in nine states and several Pacific islands.
The Sun Grant Initiative is a national network of land grant universities researching the development of bioenergy – energy derived from agricultural products instead of petroleum. OSU coordinates the Western Region Center.
Sun Grant's goal is to increase environmental sustainability, economic development, and national energy security. The organization awards grants to researchers for projects to develop renewable alternative bio-based energies.
"One of the drivers for bringing John in is that the Sun Grant program has matured," says Bill Boggess, who directed the region since 2008,and is being replaced by Talbott. "We're expecting John to do things we've never had the resources to do, such as building our working partnerships with federal research agencies, private firms, and related state agencies throughout the western region."
Talbott, who is finishing his public policy Ph.D dissertation at Virginia Tech, has a diverse background that includes time as a wildlife ecologist, ranch hand, private consultant and county and state agency administrator. For the last five years, he has been deputy director and project manager of the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership headquartered at Montana State University, a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy working to find ways to capture and permanently store greenhouse gasses.
Priorities for the Sun Grant program include enhancing and developing alternative feedstock, the plant material used to make bioenergy; creating energy-efficient agricultural operations, and producing sustainable aviation biofuels.
Boggess says there has been a renewed demand for both commercial and military aviation biofuels. OSU recently participated in an effort, led by several major airlines and other aviation stakeholders, which resulted in an outline to develop a sustainable aviation biofuels industry in the Pacific Northwest. Talbott's work in his new position may be driven by this increase in interest.