Early Career Development Program

The Center for Bioenergy Innovation is helping to grow the next generation of bioenergy leaders through its unique Early Career Development Program. Open to funded early career scientists from current CBI partnering institutions, the program provides an opportunity for participants to conduct groundbreaking research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory while also learning about the management of a large collaborative science center. Appointees split their time between bioenergy research with an ORNL mentor and working with the CBI leadership team on administrative activities such as planning for the annual partner meeting and the Department of Energy’s annual review. Appointments last at least three months and are funded by the center. CBI’s Research Council selects early career appointees through an application process. 

Contact: Dr. Brian Davison at 865-574-0955 or davisonbh@ornl.gov for more information.

Current Mentees

Ajaya Kumar Biswal

Ajaya Kumar Biswal is an associate research scientist at the University of Georgia’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center. His research with CBI sits in the areas of cell wall polysaccharides, consolidated bioprocessing, plant-microbe interactions and computational biology.

Paul Abraham

Paul Abraham is a bioanalytical chemist in the Bioimaging and Analytics section at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His experience in biological mass spectrometry informs a greater systems-level understanding of plants, microbes and microbial communities, enabling the design and engineering of custom organisms for bioenergy production.

Former Mentees

Jaime Barros

Jaime Barros is a postdoctoral research associate at The University of North Texas BioDiscovery Institute. His research interests focus on the biology of wood formation in higher plants, including reactions that lead to lignin synthesis.

Melissa Cregger

Melissa Cregger is a research scientist in the Biosciences Division at ORNL, specializing in plant-microbe interactions. She received a DOE Early Career Award to conduct research for the BER Genomic Sciences program.

David Kainer

David Kainer is a staff computational systems biologist at ORNL, specializing in the integration of diverse biological datasets with machine learning approaches for functional gene exploration and genomic prediction.

Davinia Salvachua

Davinia Salvachua has been a staff microbiologist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory since July 2014. Her research is focused on understanding biological lignin depolymerization and catabolism by fungi and bacteria.

Breeanna Urbanowicz

Breeanna Urbanowicz is an assistant professor and lead of the Plant Biopolymers Group at the University of Georgia. She is faculty of UGA’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center and its New Materials Institute.

Liz Ware

Liz Ware has been a staff research chemist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory since 2016. Her research is focused on understanding lignocellulosic biomass cell wall composition and thermochemical conversion of biomass.

Allison Werner

Allison Werner is a staff molecular biologist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Her research uses synthetic and systems biology to understand and engineer microbial utilization of underused substrates towards biological valorization.