Left to right: Allison Funk,
Dr. Sairam Rudrabhatla, Senator Patricia Vance,
Michael Chennavasin, and Pooja Patel
Penn State Harrisburg student researchers recently presented their work to state senators and representatives to raise awareness of alternative energy sources.
Freshman Michael Chennavasin, junior Allison Funk, and junior Matthew Reitzel showcased recent progress on a biofuels research project at Undergraduate Research at the Capitol day (URC-PA) on March 23. The event brings together students, faculty, and Pennsylvania legislators to share the experiences of students engaged in research or scholarship.
Led by Assistant Professor of Biology Sairam V. Rudrabhatla, the students presented their projects on jatropha, camelina, switchgrass, and sweet sorghum plants, all viable alternatives for biofuel production. The students believe the use of these plants for their oil content will become more widespread after genetic alteration, leaving food crops traditionally used as biofuels, such as corn and soybeans, available to be harvested for food.
Left to right: Dr. Sairam Rudrabhatla,
Senator Jeffrey Piccola, and Allison Funk
The students were unanimous in praising the value of their “hands on” research. Matthew Reitzel said learning the new technology gives him experience for future jobs. “You will need less training when you graduate, so it gives you an edge,” he said. Allison Funk said she recognizes the significance of her work given its potential to improve the environment. “I know what happens in the lab is making a difference in the world,” she said.