Algae interns soon available

A free training program in California is offering valuable continuing education training to retrain displaced workers.
By Erin Voegele | December 06, 2011

The future of the algae industry will likely be impacted by a variety of factors; scientific breakthroughs, sufficient funding sources, and demand for biofuels and biobased chemicals. However, it’s important not to forget that education will also play an important role in the success of the industry.

Algae companies need skilled workers. While our nation’s universities and colleges turn out an array of scientifically trained professionals, many may not have the specific skills fast-growing algae companies want or need. However, a free training program in California is addressing not only this need, but also offering valuable continuing education training to retrain displaced workers.

The University of California is now accepting applications for the program. Approximately 55 students will begin classes in March 2012. While the program is open to prospective students across the state of California, the reach of the program could be far more significant.

According to Stephen Mayfield, a professor of biology at UC San Diego and director of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology, feedback from the program’s first-year graduates, faculty and local biofuels companies is being used to redesign the curriculum for the students who enter the program in March. Once the program is perfected, an on-line, web-based curriculum will be made available to any California university or college. In addition, anyone from around the globe will be able to access the web-based curriculum via enrollment in UC San Diego Extension.

The training program, which is currently preparing to take in its second cohort of students, has been funding by a two-year, $4 million grant from California’s Department of Labor under the Green Innovation Challenge. The grant involves the work of several local partners, including UC San Diego, San Diego State University, Mira Costa College EDGE program, SD-CAB, CleanTECH San Diego, BIOCOM Institute, BIOCOM, Sand Diego Workforce Partnership and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. Students accepted into the program will receive the equivalent of a $7,000 grant from the state of California, and will attend classes at UC San Diego and Mira Costa College.

Both students interested in applying for the program, and biorefining companies interested in hiring interns that complete the program are encouraged to contact Karen Overklift at the BIOCOM Institute at 858-455-0300 or koverklift(at)