A high school debater, Jacqueline Han anticipated that she would gravitate toward political science at MIT. But she was surprised to find that many energy courses appealed to her as well. After taking Environmental Law, Policy, & Economics and the Physics of Energy, she was sold on the Energy Studies Minor. She realized she loved puzzling over the “big, interesting questions” that arise when looking at energy through a multidisciplinary lens.
A fortuitous encounter with Al Gore laid the groundwork for Jenny Hu’s interest in energy. She was part of a high school group who met with Gore in Philadelphia after watching his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth: “He told us how John F. Kennedy challenged people to get on the moon… He looked straight at us and said that’s what you need to do for energy. That really sparked my interest.”
Earth’s oceans are filled with microorganisms that use solar energy and carbon dioxide to make their own nourishment, including lipids that are of interest for making biofuels. Using novel analytical techniques, MIT biologists have come up with unexpected news about the most abundant of those organisms, Prochlorococcus. This bacterium not only retains lipids inside the cell but also releases them into seawater as self-contained, lipid-bound “vesicles”—structures so small they’ve never before been detected in cultures of marine bacteria or microbes that perform photosynthesis. This property is intriguing in the context of biofuel production: In a future system, lipids could be retrieved by simply scooping off the vesicles while the cells—left intact—continue to grow and produce more. The researchers are now exploring the mechanisms that control vesicle formation and release as well the impact of this process on marine ecosystems and carbon cycles.
Read more about their research at http://bit.ly/1uxYjpT
Under the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), Institute researchers are
hard at work on this portfolio, addressing alleviating immediate
shortage, security, and environmental concerns. We are also working to
find secure, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable energy
Learn more about our work at mitei.mit.edu.