URBANA, Ill. – As part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Cochran Fellowship Program, the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) is hosting eight agricultural professionals from Ecuador for two weeks of training focused on the U.S. biofuel industry.
“The progress and innovations in the U.S. biofuel industry can be applied to the sugarcane-based biofuel industry that is prevalent in South America and Ecuador,” explained Vijay Singh, Director of the IBRL and Distinguished Professor of Bioprocessing in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
IBRL has coordinated an intensive program for the Fellows that highlights the advancements within the U.S. biofuel industry, which is built on corn-based ethanol, and the work currently being done to improve sugarcane as an energy crop.
After a week in Champaign-Urbana, the Fellows will travel with IBRL representatives to Chicago and Washington D.C. to meet with representatives from several agencies including the USDA and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
“IBRL is becoming a hub for bioprocessing innovation and commercialization, so it is fitting for our team to help other regions expand their own bioprocessing capabilities. We are excited at the prospect of being integral to the international biofuel community,” added Singh.
The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) has previously hosted Cochran Fellows from Rwanda for training on in-vitro fertilization techniques to improve dairy production.
The Cochran Fellowship Program provides short-term training opportunities to agricultural professionals from middle-income countries, emerging markets, and emerging democracies. The goals are: 1) to help eligible countries develop agricultural systems necessary to meet the food and fiber needs of their domestic populations; and 2) to strengthen and enhance trade linkages between eligible countries and agricultural interests in the United States.
Approximately 600 Cochran fellows come to the United States each year, generally for 2-3 weeks, to work with U.S. universities, government agencies, and private companies. They receive hands-on training to enhance their technical knowledge and skills in areas related to agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy, and marketing. USDA announces eligible countries and topics each year based on current trade issues.
Since its start in 1984, the Cochran Program has provided training for more than 17,500 fellows from 125 countries. The program is named for U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi.
The Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory, or IBRL, is a flexible, plug-and-play, pilot-scale facility and analytical laboratory that brings faculty, students, and industry together to develop efficient and economical strategies for the production of renewable bio-based products. The facility is housed in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering in the College of ACES.