Navigation Links
K-State sociologists use Department of Energy grant

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- Kansas State University was awarded a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to study the social, cultural and economic impacts of the "biofuels revolution" on rural communities in Kansas and Iowa. The $696,827 grant comes from the department's Ethical, Legal and Societal Implications of Research on Alternative Bioenergy Technologies, Synthetic Genomes or Nanotechnologies program. The researchers from K-State's department of sociology, anthropology and social work are: Theresa Selfa, assistant professor; Laszlo Kulcsar, assistant professor; Gerad Middendorf, associate professor; and Richard Goe, professor. They are joined by Carmen Bain, assistant professor of sociology at Iowa State University.

"There has been very little research into the social dimensions of the bioeconomy," said Selfa, who is the grant's principal investigator. "We are among a small number of social science researchers examining this topic, which is why this grant is very important."

As the United States works to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and expand the development of alternative fuels, ethanol plants are springing up in rural communities across the Midwest, including those in Kansas and Iowa. Although such plants often are touted as economic and population drivers, Selfa said that the social and economic costs and benefits haven't been assessed with in-depth case study research. The project will examine four Kansas communities and two Iowa communities to see whether claims that ethanol plants will revitalize the towns hold true.

The communities to be studied will be chosen based on several factors, including population size, location of an existing or planned ethanol plant, and availability or constraints on a plentiful water source for the ethanol plant. The researchers will use demographic analysis, population surveys, content from local newspapers and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders.

Selfa said one aspect the researchers will study is whether new populations are moving to these communities because of ethanol-related jobs and how this affects the community. They will examine the attitudes that ethanol plant workers and farmers have about the opportunities that ethanol plants present. The researchers also are curious about how much local communities are investing to bring ethanol plants to their towns and how benefits from ethanol plants differ depending on whether they are owned locally or nonlocally.

"We believe that local ownership would bring more benefit," Selfa said.

The researchers want to see how the scale of the plant affects the community economically and socially. For instance, Selfa said they want to examine whether smaller plants distribute their benefits -- and costs -- among communities in a way that large, centralized plants don't.

Another aspect of the research will look at how communities and government officials balance the need for economic growth and jobs with the reality of declining water availability, especially in places like western Kansas.

"How do they balance water demands between agricultural crops for food versus for fuel and then for household, municipal and industrial uses?" Selfa said.

She said the researchers plan to use what they learn to inform policymakers and rural communities about the possible benefits and limitations of bioenergy development.


Contact: Theresa Selfa
Kansas State University

Related biology news :

1. K-State professors discover enzyme responsible for creation of a beetles hard shell
2. K-State researchers study insects immune system
3. K-State researchers study gene regulation in insects
4. K-Staters design and build a low-cost remote sensing tool for environmental studies
5. Honeybee decision-making ability rivals any department committee
6. Special Imaging Study Shows Failing Hearts Are Energy Starved
7. Growth in biomass could put US on road to energy independence
8. Hydrogen and methane provide raw energy for life at Lost City
9. Study of energy and health in Africa focuses spotlight on charcoal and forest management
10. Scientific issues associated with carbon-neutral energy sources such as cellulosic ethanol
11. Cholera pathogen reveals how bacteria generate energy to live
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/17/2015)... Pressure BioSciences, Inc. (OTCQB: PBIO) ("PBI" and ... of broadly enabling, pressure cycling technology ("PCT")-based sample preparation ... it has received gross proceeds of $745,000 from an ... "Offering"), increasing the total amount raised to date in ... are expected in the near future. ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... 2015  Arxspan has entered into an agreement ... for use of its ArxLab cloud-based suite of ... partnership will support the institute,s efforts to electronically ... information internally and with external collaborators. The ArxLab ... the Institute,s electronic laboratory notebook, compound and assay ...
(Date:11/10/2015)...  In this report, the biomarkers market ... type, application, disease indication, and geography. The ... consumables, services, software. The type segments included ... biomarkers, and validation biomarkers. The applications segments ... drug discovery and development, personalized medicine, disease ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Copper is an essential micronutrient that all ... copper is also toxic to cells. With a $1.3 million award from the ... a systematic study of copper in the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa), a ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... PUNE, India , November 24, 2015 ... to a new market research report "Oligonucleotide Synthesis Market ... Equipment), Application (PCR, Gene Synthesis, Diagnostic, DNA, RNAi), End-User ... to 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected ... 1,078.1 Million in 2015, at a CAGR of 10.1% ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... --> --> ... by Transparency Market Research, the global non-invasive prenatal testing ... 17.5% during the period between 2014 and 2022. The ... Analysis, Size, Volume, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2014 ... to reach a valuation of US$2.38 bn by 2022. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... In harsh industrial processes, the ... in-line sensors can represent a weak spot where leaking process media is a ... sensor housings , which are designed to tolerate extreme process conditions. They combine ...
Breaking Biology Technology: