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Five Students Win Scholarship to Attend 2011 National Ethanol Conference

February 1, 2011


The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Renewable Fuels Foundation (RFF) are proud to announce the five recipients of a scholarship to attend the 16th Annual National Ethanol Conference: Building Bridges to a More Sustainable Future.  These students will receive a complimentary registration to the conference, providing them the opportunity to meet and connect with ethanol industry leaders, top policymakers and preeminent experts in the field of renewable fuels. The five recipients of the NEC Scholarship are: Ethan Kenney Ethan Kenney grew up on a farm and ranch operation outside of Amherst, a small town in central Nebraska. Growing up he was always interested in engines and mechanical processes. As a senior in high school Ethan began working on cars and building engines. His first project was successfully converting a 1963 Ford pickup to run on E85. Since then Ethan has begun several other projects including starting a dirt track racing team. He is currently a junior at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.  His future plans include a career within the automotive industry designing engines or fuel injection systems. Derek Latil Derek Latil was born and raised in Venezuela until the age of 13. He acquired special interests in both petroleum and nature.  Driven by his desire to better understand nature and life, he obtained a Bachelor´s degree in Biotechnology from the University of Vic in Spain. Derek realized that his interests converged in biofuels and applied to the Professional Science Masters in Bioenergy, the first Master´s degree in the U.S. focused on Bioenergy. After recently graduating, Derek is currently working part time for IllinoisVentures in the Cleantech and Life Sciences venture capital sectors while looking for a job in the bioenergy industry. Anuradha Mukherjee Anuradha Mukherjee is pursuing her PhD in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University under the guidance of Dr. James R. Whiteley. She is working on the design and implementation of an on-farm ethanol separation unit. The pilot plant/farm scale demonstration unit will be capable of producing 95 vol% ethanol from fermented sweet sorghum feedstock. Her research includes but is not restricted to alcohol dewatering technology, detailed process design, safety and economics, sweet sorghum feed evaluation using GC/MS, and feed fouling studies. Apart from being a keen researcher she enjoys the outdoors and makes time to pursue Asian drumming. Kai Nortey Kai Nortey is passionate about her collective vision for a sustainable, international community that is committed to reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. Kai is a California native and a graduate student of Integrated Marketing Communications and PR at Golden Gate University, in San Francisco. Graduating in April 2011, she will earn her Masters of Science where she has focused much of her studies on marketing and branding opportunities for E85. As a result of her vision, Kai is an ethanol fuel enthusiast and biofuels blogger who uses social media and PR to lead by example. Kai utilizes the benefits of YouTube, Twitter, and blogging to show friends, family, and the public why she fills up her 2005 Honda Civic with a 50/50 mixture of both E85 and gasoline, until she gets her flex fuel engine converter kit installed. Kai's video can be viewed on her YouTube channel "EvolveWithE85." Inspired by Brazil's use of ethanol, Henry Ford's Model-T ethanol automobile, and David Blume's book "Alcohol Can be a Gas," Kai is influencing the general public to learn more about the environmental and American economic benefits of E85 fuel and flex fuel engine converter kits. When Kai is not talking about the benefits of E85, she is either composting for her garden or dancing Afro-Cuban salsa and West African dance. Kai is looking forward to building a career in the ethanol industry and is excited about participating in discussions that share ideas about consumer marketing and policy initiatives on higher blends of ethanol. Julia O'Rourke Julia O'Rourke is a 2nd year MS/PhD student in mechanical engineering and MPaff student in public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the recipient of both the NSF graduate research fellowship and the Powers Fellowship. In 2009, she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh where she majored in philosophy, mechanical engineering, and history and philosophy of science. Her academic interests include: renewable energy, energy technology and policy, and sustainable mechanical design. She is currently working on a yearlong policy research project on the ethanol in the United States, focusing on ethanol-related policies and the future of the industry.