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Posted on  

May 6, 2002

R. Bothast Named Director Of New Ethanol Research Pilot Plant

Rodney J. Bothast, internationally recognized authority on industrial microbiology and biochemical engineering, has been named director of the new National Corn-To-Ethanol Research Pilot Plant in University Park on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Bothast, who has been with the USDA’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria since 1985, will take over as the ethanol plant director Aug. 1. The plant is being built with $14 million in federal funds and $6 million from the state of Illinois. Research at the plant is aimed at finding ways to significantly reduce the cost of producing ethanol, a renewable transportation fuel made from corn.

SIUE Chancellor David Werner said Bothast is a research microbiologist who brings an international reputation in biochemical engineering to the campus. “We are confident that Rod Bothast will be breaking new ground in ethanol technology in University Park,” Werner said. “His work and the research done at the facility will have a profound impact on the state and the nation.

“This research will open new doors to efficient and affordable ways to produce alternative transportation fuels.”

SIU President James Walker said the plant will play an important part of fulfilling the university’s mission of service. “The Ethanol Research Pilot Plant at SIUE is truly one-of-a-kind in the U.S. and will bring unique opportunities for research and business development to the region,” Walker said. “I'm pleased we have found a high-quality leader in Rodney Bothast to direct this operation.”

In addition to directing operations at the new plant, Bothast also will be responsible for finding clients, government appropriations, and both public and private grants for the facility.

As research microbiologist at the USDA’s facility in Peoria, Bothast developed technologies to produce lower cost fuels and valuable coproducts. He also had been a research leader of the facility’s fermentation biochemistry research unit.

He earned a bachelor of science in Animal Science at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and a master of science in Food Microbiology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University at Blacksburg, Va. Bothast also received a doctorate in Food Microbiology in 1971 from Virginia Tech.

In addition to more than 100 presentations to regional, national, and international meetings, and serving on national and international committees, Bothast also taught and conducted workshops throughout the United States and around the world. He also has received numerous honors and awards from national and international societies and agencies.

Bothast’s research in the field has been documented in more than 200 scientific publications, book chapters, patents, articles, and technical reports. He is credited with leading research teams that have made several pioneering discoveries, including the trickle ammonia process of drying grain, the first pentose fermenting yeast, reduced energy costs for the fermentation of alcohol, and methods for solving mold damage problems in the U.S. Food for Peace Program.


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