Isaac Emery, a third year PhD student in ESE, was recently featured as one of five students on Purdue University's campus that is making a global impact. After obtaining his undergraduate degree, Isaac and a group of friends were frustrated because they were not doing enough to better the world. They started the Heroes in Green project, a website that will combine role-playing and improving users' environmental footprint. The goal of Heroes in Green is to make sustainability fun and rewarding. This site will connect people who want to make a difference while reducing their carbon footprint and tracking their personal contribution to the planet. The site tracks greenhouse gasses, water use, including 'virtual water' used in agriculture or manufacturing, and landfill space, and will also include social networking functionality after development of the first beta site. Participants will go on real-world missions to improve their energy and water-use efficiency, and record their actions online. The site will track their progress and achievements as an individual and towards any team or site-wide goals. Heroes in Green will facilitate ways for people to improve their relationship with the environment, suggesting actions and providing accurate and well-supported information so participants can make their own educated decisions. Personally, Isaac makes an effort every day to contribute; he doesn't own a car and uses a bicycle as his source of transportation. He also pays attention to what he eats and avoids heavily processed foods. This past year Isaac started his own food garden and began brewing his own cider and mead from local ingredients. He has also been involved with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables.
At Purdue, Isaac works to understand the complexities of biofuel production by studying how producing and storing feedstocks affect fuel production and the environment. Despite the international biofuel research frenzy, very little is known about how differences between feedstock crops might affect their storage, or what the environmental impacts of feedstock storage might be. Isaac's work focuses on measuring the nutrients and greenhouse gasses lost from sorghum and switchgrass during storage, and modeling how those changes affect the whole biofuel production process. He hopes to develop tools that would help farmers and biofuel producers make informed decisions about how to harvest, store, and process biomass crops, and that his results will be incorporated into GREET, a model of fuel production used by the EPA to enforce emissions regulations.
Adapted from original story by Sarah Showalter.
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