For college students, the fall marks the beginning of four months of classwork, jobs and extracurricular activities. For nature lovers, the fall is the beautiful time when leaves turn from green to rustic orange and brown. For athletes, the fall means packed football games and cool breezes in which to practice. But for some folks who live near fields, the fall is associated with the smoky smell of burning sugarcane. Maybe not for long though. Dr. Ramaraj Boopathy, distinguished service professor of biological sciences, is studying ways to help sugarcane farmers eliminate the practice of sugarcane burning. Boopathy has received funding from the Governor’s Energy Initiative to develop ways to produce fuel grade ethanol from sugarcane waste, such as sugarcane leaf litter and bagasse.
In addition to teaching and research, Boopathy reviews research proposals for the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Energy. He also edits the International Journal of Biodeterioration and Biodegradation and was selected as a 2006 Fulbright Senior Scholar to visit Indonesia. Before coming to Nicholls in 1999, Boopathy worked as a scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory managed by the University of Chicago. There he studied the bacterial degradation of trinitrotoluene, otherwise known as TNT.