Midwest Energy News has named UW–Madison associate professor of genetics Chris Todd Hittinger and assistant professor of life sciences communication Neil Stenhouse to its “40 Under 40” list. The annual list recognizes the Midwest’s emerging leaders in transitioning America to a clean energy economy. Hittinger and Stenhouse are two of only three academic researchers to make this year’s list, which includes some of the region’s most influential utility executives, leaders in the non-profit sector, policymakers, and entrepreneurs.
With the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, Hittinger leads research on bio-designing yeast to improve the economics of sustainably produced biofuels. By developing and deploying genetic tools, Hittinger engineers yeast strains that more efficiently convert cellulosic biomass to fuel. His foundational research could help clean up a transportation sector currently producing more than a quarter of the country’s emissions of carbon dioxide.
Stenhouse’s research focuses on the intersection of science communication and the politics of scientific issues, especially energy and climate change. By studying which communication strategies affect political behavior and participation in clean energy issues, Stenhouse is providing research on how clean energy advocates, scientists, and other professionals can effectively communicate about energy and climate to diverse groups of people.
Both Hittinger and Stenhouse are affiliates of the Wisconsin Energy Institute.