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Team Leaders

The AHB team leaders represent the five different project teams and come from major Northwest research universities and the two industry partners.  The team leaders collaborated to ensure that all components came together to prepare the Northwest for a sustainable hardwood biofuels industry.

Gustafson, Rick
(206) 543-2790

Dr. Gustafson is a professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington.  Rick is the primary investigator for the entire AHB project and co-leads the Sustainability Team.  His research focuses on bioresource science and engineering.  His lab investigates the development of integrated biorefineries that use biomass to produce a range of products, from commodity fuels to high value food additives. These biorefineries are characterized by having good process economics with minimal environmental impact. His lab uses process simulation as the major tool for process development work. Rick works with colleagues doing fundamental research to integrate state-of-the-art conversion technologies to produce globally optimized processes. Results from the process models are then used in economic assessments to determine financial viability and in life cycle assessments to evaluate the broad environmental impact of candidate process configurations. The process modeling work also extends to developing new methods to measure and control critical unit operations in biorefineries. His lab works with chemists to develop robust probes to measure critical performance variables and developing process control strategies to maximize productivity and product quality.  Rick has a B. S. in Wood and Fiber Science and a Ph. D. in Chemical Engineering both from the University of Washington.


Conversion team logo; graphic of a yellow gas droplet on top of a green poplar leaf

Bura, Renata

Dr. Bura is a professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington and a researcher of the UW Bioenergy and Biochemicals Lab. Renata is the current leader of the AHB Conversion Team. Her research focuses on understanding and improving the process of converting lignocellulosic biomass into high-value, chemical products and biofuels. Renata has a B.Sc in Applied Chemistry and Biology from Ryerson University, a M.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. in Forest Products Biotechnology from the University of British Columbia.


Bryan JenkinsSustainability team logo; graphic of a globe on top of a green poplar leaf

Jenkins, Bryan

Dr. Jenkins teaches and conducts research in the areas of energy and power, with emphasis on biomass and other renewable resources.  Bryan is currently Director of the Energy Institute at the University of California Davis.  He has more than thirty years experience working in the area of biomass thermochemical conversion including combustion, gasification, and pyrolysis. His research also includes analysis and optimization of energy systems. He teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses on energy systems, heat and mass transfer, solar energy, and power and
energy conversion, including renewable energy and fuels, combined heat and power and cogeneration systems, economic analysis, and environmental impacts.  Bryan is a recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the US Department of Energy for exceptional contributions to the development of bioenergy, and the Linneborn Prize from the European Union for outstanding contributions to
the development of energy from biomass.


Jason SelwitzEducation team logo; graphic of books on top of a green poplar leaf

Selwitz, Jason

Jason became the Project Manager for the Agriculture Center of Excellence in late 2011.  After graduating from Penn State in Park Management, Jason served in the Philippines with the Peace Corps and co-founded the Palawan Conservation Corps.  Afterward, Jason was a four season wilderness educator leading multi-week expeditions and service projects in Oregon, California, Nevada, British Columbia, and Hawaii.  Jason earned his Masters in Regenerative Studies from Cal Poly Pomona by completing lab research on two strains of freshwater algae and their ability to treat human wastewater and produce biodiesel.  For over four years, Jason was the Program Manager with Green Empowerment where he collaborated with colleges and universities to provide rural farming communities in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and eastern Africa with access to appropriate technology, renewable energy, and watershed restoration.  Jason holds Certificates in River Restoration and Wetland Delineation from Portland State University.


 Brian StantonFeedstock team logo; graphic of a green poplar leaf, including the veins

Stanton, Brian

Dr. Stanton is the Chief Science Officer at GWR.  He has more than 25 years of experience in poplar genetics and is an internationally recognized expert.  His research has produced some of the finest breeding collections of Populus deltoides, Populus trichocarpa, and a variety of Asian Tacamahaca poplar.  Brian has overseen hybrid varietal development for poplar commercial tree farms in the U.S. as well as varietal testing in Chile, China, and Europe. Brian is past chair of the Poplar and Willow Working Party for the International Union of Forest Research Organizations and the past chair for the Society of American Foresters Genetics and Tree Improvement Working Group.  Brian received a B.S. in biology from West Chester State College, an M.S. in forestry from the University of Maine, and a Ph.D. in forest resources from Pennsylvania State University.


Patricia TownsendExtension team logo; diversely colored graphics of people joined in a circle on a green poplar leaf

Townsend, Patricia

Dr. Townsend is a Regional Extension Specialist at Washington State University and co-lead for the AHB Extension team. Patricia is playing an active role in developing ecosystem service markets for poplar trees, creating outreach materials, and conducting research on the needs and concerns of stakeholders regarding bioenergy. She completed her Ph. D at the University of Washington (UW) working closely with local landowners on tropical forest restoration and conservation in Costa Rica. While at UW, Patricia also worked on the environmental impacts of biofuel feedstocks. Currently, she is happy to be providing outreach to build a sustainable poplar energy and ecosystem services system in the Northwest.


Kevin ZobristExtension team logo; diversely colored graphics of people joined in a circle on a green poplar leaf

Zobrist, Kevin

Kevin serves as the Washington State University Regional Extension Forestry Specialist for the North Puget Sound area. He is based in Everett, WA, where he coordinates and teaches public forestry education classes, predominantly for owners of small-acreage forests. Kevin also does research related to small-scale forestry and education methods, and develops technical publications for landowners. Before joining the WSU faculty in 2007, Kevin was a forestry research scientist for the University of Washington. Kevin has a BS in forest management and an MS in forest economics, both from the University of Washington. Kevin’s top interests are ecology, native trees, woody biofuels, and using technology in forestry education.