BESC Center Management

Paul Gilna - Director

Dr. Paul Gilna previously held a position at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology and the Center for Research in Biological Systems, both located at the University of California, San Diego. At San Diego he served as executive director for the Community Cyber infrastructure for Advanced Marine Microbial Ecology Research and Analysis project. Previously, Dr. Gilna was director of the Joint Genome Institute at Los Alamos National Laboratory and has worked at the National Science Foundation. His research interests range from molecular biology to microbiology to computational biology.

Brian Davison - Science Coordinator

Dr. Brian Davison is chief scientist for Systems Biology and Biotechnology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and adjunct professor of chemical engineering at the University of Tennessee. He has managed individual and multi-institutional projects. He has authored over 100 publications and six patents, including one of the first reports that genetic variation in Populus composition can affect hydrolysis. Dr. Davison is the awardee of the Charles D. Scott Award by the Society of Industrial Microbiology.

Renae Speck - Technology Transfer and Partnerships

Dr. Renae Speck is the director of Technology Transfer and Partnerships for BESC. She is managing the BESC Commercialization Council and tracking all intellectual property created using BESC funds. Dr. Speck is responsible for managing research relationships for large multipartner, multiyear awards involving researchers and staff in the Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Dr. Speck earned a doctor of philosophy in pharmacology and molecular sciences from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a bachelor of science degree in recombinant genetics and chemistry from Western Kentucky University.

Cheri Foust - Project Manager

Cheri Foust joined BESC in April 2012 to take on the role of BESC technical project manager. She comes to BESC with over 20 years of project management experience. A considerable amount of that experience focused on developing project plans and managing project stakeholders, the project team, risk, schedules, milestones, budgets, and conflicts. In addition Ms. Foust has a background and formal training in public health. She holds a master in public health degree from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor of science degree in both business administration and health.

Lee Lynd - Biomass Deconstruction and Conversion Lead

Dr. Lee Lynd is professor of engineering and biological sciences at Dartmouth College. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation's Presidential Young Investigator Award, as well as a two-time recipient of the Charles A. Lindbergh Award for his efforts to promote balance between technological progress and preservation of the natural and human environments. He has been awarded the Charles D. Scott award for outstanding contributions to the field of biotechnology for fuels and chemicals and is the inaugural winner of the Lemelson-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sustainability Award.

Debra Mohnen - Biomass Formation and Modification Lead

Dr. Debra Mohnen is the BESC Biomass Formation and Modification lead and professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and at the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center at the University of Georgia. Her research program centers on the biosynthesis function and structure of plant cell wall polysaccharides. Her emphasis is on the biosynthesis of pectin, pectin function in plants, human health, and on the improvement of plant cell wall structure so as to improve the efficiency of conversion of plant wall biomass to biofuels.

Mark Davis - Enabling Technologies Lead

Dr. Mark Davis, a researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is focused on integrating multivariate statistical data analysis and spectroscopic methods such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and pyrolysis-molecular beam mass spectrometry (PyMBMS) to follow changes in plant cell wall chemistry due to transgenic modification. He has developed pyMBMS methods to rapidly analyze cell wall chemistry and teamed with plant geneticists to use the results of these analyses to identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs) in poplar and loblolly pine. He has also developed several NMR methods to characterize pyrolysis oil and liquid products from lignin.