Sorlie participates in energy research program

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Lisa Sorlie, district library media specialist for the Bonduel School District, spent part of her summer investigating the key challenges of making sustainable biofuels.

Sorlie, of Green Valley, participated in the Research Experience for Teachers program hosted by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the Wisconsin Energy Institute.

Sorlie spent seven weeks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus working alongside GLBRC scientists. While immersing herself in biofuel research, she also developed instructional materials that will provide her students with the experience of investigating similar scientific questions in the classroom.

Sorlie scrutinized various yeast species for the Yeast Exploration and Analysis Science Team. Yeasts, which help convert plant sugar to fuel, are key to biofuel production.

She will return to Bonduel with a variety of instructional materials related to yeasts and advanced biofuels.

The materials are designed to reach different types of learners across different grades: an online picture book, a webcast, lesson plans rich with graphics, videos and hands-on experiments, and guidelines for advanced placement biology students to collaborate with UW-Madison scientists through the YEAST program.

“The world is big and Bonduel is small — we say that a lot,” Sorlie said, “but we’re a piece of the big world so we need to consider how we can make a real difference. I’m excited to introduce my students to real scientific challenges and problem-solving techniques related to biofuel production. I want to help them realize that they can be scientists, too!”

Of the RET, Sorlie said, “The scientists were genuinely welcoming and so good at teaching. The work is significant, the mission is admirable, and I was lucky to be there.”

GLBRC is one of three Department of Energy bioenergy research centers created to build the foundation of new cellulosic biofuels technology. For more information, visit