Friday, July 1, 2011

Educating a Green Workforce

by Britt Flaherty

Green algae may soon be what powers our cars, planes, and light bulbs, but only if a workforce of smart professionals learns how to grow and process the energy stored in photosynthetic bugs. That's where Educating and Developing Workers for the Green Economy, or EDGE, comes in. EDGE is a collaborative effort on behalf of San Diego powerhouses such as UCSD, SDSU, CleanTECH San Diego, BIOCOM, and the San Diego Workforce Partnership, focused on educating a next-generation workforce in green technology. In this second entry of SD-CAB's new blog on all things green in San Diego, I'll profile a few students from an EDGE course on Biofuels this past quarter, taught by Professor John Buchner, Ph.D. Buchner, like many EDGE instructors, is a post-doctoral scholar in an SD-CAB lab and is focused on a career in educating the next generation of scientists and researchers.
These are the men and women who will power the green economy:

Nasser Bahrampouri
Nasser Bahrampouri has been a scientist in the biotech industry for a few decades and spent the last five years working for the local company, Biogen. "I feel the need to follow the latest trends in biotechnology," he says, "and my hope is to be part of the transition to fossil fuel independence, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and extending our survival on this planet." Bahrampouri is passionate about green energy, and says that his coursework with EDGE gave him "a reason to brush up on what I had learned before" and helped him to prepare for a future in which green energy production is a key component of biotech in San Diego.

Jo Ann Jackson
Jo Ann Jackson is no stranger to hard work - she balanced a full time job while studying biofuels with EDGE. While "finding a balance between work, home life, and school is no easy feat," she's passionate about a career that effects positive change for our planet's future. With a bachelor's degree in Biology from SDSU and a master's in project management from Keller, Jackson says "I wanted the opportunity to utilize my project management skills and to one day move up in a company. Biofuels will need a person who can understand biology, chemistry, and engineering, and that is attractive to me." Jackson hopes to manage projects in biofuels harvesting one day and feels that the scientific and networking skills she honed during her EDGE courses will open the doors to many new and exciting career possibilities.

Rebecca Fowler

Rebecca Fowler holds an Environmental Studies degree from UNLV and has been working in development and land management for many years. She feels that the EDGE program has given her career direction: "I hope to apply what I learned in this program to a job where I am ultimately proud of what I do," she says "and now that I have a child, it means more than anything to me to do something that will serve him and his generation." Fowler feels a strong connection to the environment, and even wrote a thesis on redevelopment as an undergraduate. She says that "being exposed to all different aspects of the biofuels industry as well as the talented and educated EDGE instructors" is preparing her for a career that focuses more on alternative energy and environmental protection.

Britt Flaherty is a graduate student at UC San Diego and a volunteer writer and educator with SD-CAB. You can contact her at

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