Himadri Pakrasi

Myron and Sonya Glassberg/Albert and Blanche Greensfelder Distinguished University Professor

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Biography

Pakrasi is director of the International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability (I-CARES). He conducts his research in the areas of systems biology, photosynthesis, and metal homeostasis. He also directs two large-scale multiinstitutional Systems Biology projects, NSF-FIBR and PNNL Grand Challenge. Pakrasi is deeply engaged in bridging research interests in Physical and Biological Sciences.

Stories

Water world

Three Washington University in St. Louis scientists studied the great granddaddy of all photosynthetic organisms — a strain of cyanobacteria — to develop the first experimental map of that organism’s water world.

$2.4 million instrument upgrade will let scientists see what is happening inside microbes​​

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded David Fike, PhD, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences, $2.4 million to adapt a powerful chemical microscope called the 7F-GEO SIMS for biological samples. The updated instrument’s ability to map the chemistry inside cells will boost research on microbes that are promising candidates for biofuel or bioenergy production.

Major Indo-U.S. Advanced Bioenergy Consortium launches

The government of India’s Department of Biotechnology, Indian corporate leaders and Washington University in St. Louis have invested $2.5 million to launch the Indo-U.S. Advanced Bioenergy Consortium for Second Generation Biofuels (IUABC). The goal of the center is to increase biomass yield in plants and algae, enabling downstream commercial development for cost-effective, efficient and environmentally sustainable production of advanced biofuels.

Sustainable design

Winning teams in the I-CARES Student Competition displayed their sustainability projects on the Danforth Campus of Washington University in St. Louis last week. The annual competition asks students to propose a physical installation in the area of climate change, renewable energy or sustainable design.

Creating plants that make their own fertilizer

Much of modern agriculture relies on biologically available nitrogenous compounds (called “fixed” nitrogen) made by an industrial process developed by German chemist Fritz Haber in 1909. Himadri Pakrasi, PhD, a scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, thinks it should be possible to design a better nitrogen-fixing system. His idea is to put the apparatus for fixing nitrogen in plant cells, the same cells that hold the apparatus for capturing the energy in sunlight. The National Science Foundation just awarded Pakrasi and his team $3.87 million to explore this idea further.