The Man Who Loves Algae


The Wall Street Journal has a profile of University of Texas plant physiologist Jerry Brand in its paper today.

Brand is an algae expert, he collects different strains of algae like they’re baseball cards. Many people believe that algae could be the next big biofuel, and that’s making Brand a much more popular man. The problem is that algae is not ready for large scale commercial implementation.

From the Journal: But biofuels entrepreneurs are picky. They’re searching for algae that produce oil — not all of them do — and ones that grow quickly. The ideal is algae that do both.

Mr. Brand, whose love of algae’s genetic diversity contrasts with his daily uniform of choice — grey sweater vests — believes that such focus is naive. “It is like saying I want a wheat [plant] with a high yield that grows fast,” he said on a recent afternoon, sitting in his small office where a half-eaten plum lay next to coffee mugs with algae illustrations on them. “But you also have to pay attention to the wheat’s disease resistance and whether it falls over when the wind blows.”

In an age where entrepreneurs are accustomed to fast startups, courtesy of the internet boom, Brand continues plodding along, testing different species of algae patiently. Read the whole profile at the Journal>>>>

Image: Lee Nachtigal

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