Georgia Tech’s Valerie Thomas, a leading expert in energy and environmental analysis, has been reappointed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to serve a second term as a member of the Biomass Research and Development (R&D) Technical Advisory Committee. The committee advises DOE and USDA on R&D related to biofuels and feedstock development. Her appointment is effective through December 30, 2019.
This committee, initially established by the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000 (Biomass Act), was reauthorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014. As part of this committee, Thomas, the Anderson Interface Professor of Natural Systems at the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, will assist the USDA and DOE in meeting the Act’s national goals of a healthier rural economy and improved national energy security.
The Act’s main focus is on overcoming key technical challenges through R&D that will lead to an expanded U.S. bio-based industry. Thomas has the responsibility of providing advice to the two departments on matters including biomass research and development; technical focus and direction of requests for proposals issued under the initiative; procedures for reviewing and evaluating requests for proposals; and facilitating consultation and partnerships among federal agencies.
Thomas’ research interests are energy and materials efficiency; sustainability; industrial ecology; technology assessment; international security; and science and technology policy. Current research projects include the environmental impacts of biofuels and electricity system policy and planning.
Thomas received a B.A. in physics from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Cornell University. Before coming to Georgia Tech she held positions at Carnegie Mellon University and Princeton University. From 2004 to 2005, Thomas was the American Physical Society Congressional Science Fellow. A member of the U.S. EPA Science Advisory Board from 2003 to 2009, Thomas is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society.