convened the Committee on Research Frontiers in Bioinspired Energy to organize a second workshop in 2011 which, according to the statement of task, would explore the molecular-level frontiers of energy processes in nature through an interactive, multidisciplinary, and public format.1 Specifically, the committee was charged to feature invited presentations and include discussion of key biological energy capture, storage, and transformation processes; gaps in knowledge and barriers to transitioning the current state of knowledge into applications; and underdeveloped research opportunities that might exist beyond disciplinary boundaries. This report is an account of what occurred at the workshop, and does not attempt to present any consensus findings or recommendations of the workshop participants. It summarizes the views expressed by workshop participants, and while the committee is responsible for the overall quality and accuracy of the report as a record of what transpired at the workshop, the views contained in the report are not necessarily those of the committee.
Opening remarks were made by workshop organizing committee member Douglas Ray, from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, followed by an opening plenary talk presented by Leslie Dutton of the University of Pennsylvania. Dutton’s work has revealed common machinery in enzymes driven by electron transfer, which he has used to construct synthetic enzymes and hopes can be applied to helping to meet needs in energy and medicine. The subsequent technical sessions of the workshop focused on energy transformations, energy capture, and bioinspired energy systems, and are briefly described below. Greater details about each speaker’s presentation can be found in Chapter 2. A summary of breakout session discussions is given in Chapter 3.
This session began with Penelope Boston, from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, speaking about her work in extreme environments of the subsurface of Earth. Boston described microbes from these environments that carry out chemical processes in unique and novel ways with relevance to energy applications. Next, Steven Benner, from the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, spoke about his research in the synthetic biology field. One of the goals of his work is to develop a
1 See Appendixes A–D for the committee’s statement of task, the workshop agenda, organizer and speaker biographies, and participant list, respectively.